Starbucks: Powering Product Launches and Building Community — Live from BlogWell

3:50 — Andy Sernovitz introduces Starbucks’ Director of Digital Strategy, Alex Wheeler.

3:51 – Alex: Social is first: it’s all about relationships, not marketing to add value; second; should fit within a larger digital strategy.  97% said that a dig brand experience influenced whether or not they purchased (Razorfish study)

3: 52 – Alex talks about new Frap launch yesterday.  Huge following on Facebook who love Fraps.  Lots of Frap Love.  This provides great insight into our customers

3:54 – Alex talks about agency – BBDO and their work on Frap site.  Looking for ways to engage with Frap on FB and Twitter.  Allowed for consumers to be part of the experience. Broadened campaign idea to include everyone and increase connections.

3:57 – Alex talks about maintaining existing relationships, not just acquiring new customers. New additions such as soy… new categories. Starbucks sent out poll to see what people like and utilized current fans for insight.

3:58 – Alex: Reward and love your existing communities, too.  Alex talks about interesting ways to integrate (you can build your own frap!).

3:59 – Alex: Celebrate the power of “we”.  Alex talks about co-responsibility, getting people involved in environmental causes.  Starbucks launched the “Big Picture” on Earth Day. Using digital/social to change behavior (reusable bags, etc) to get people more earth conscious. Global event to get people to trade in paper cups for reusable ones.  What can we do together? This was advertised on FB.

4:01 — Alex: Holistic – not just digital.  Talks about providing value and encouraging sharing (earned vs. paid media).  Has seen a lift in reusable cups since Earth Day campaign.

4:02 – Alex talks about recognizing all dimensions.  Now, consumers can manage their gold cards on FB.  Very meaningful experience for customers.

4:03 – Alex talks about Bold coffee campaign – pick which bold coffee you are (what coffee matches your personality).  Amusing discovery – provides value back to Starbucks on their customers.

4:04 – Alex: about bringing value to customers and building communities

4:05 –Alex talks about customizable frap – happy hour May 7-May 16 – enjoy half price fraps (3pm – 5pm)


Q: Great job integrating all media platforms.  Any tips so you aren’t operating by silos?

A: Alex – we put customers at the center.  Looking at it from their point of view.  This is enlightening to all levels of employees.  Holistic approach is very valuable.  Make relationships with all divisions of the company.

Q: Andy – What is the structure of the team that does this?

A: Alex  – Fluid.  We have leaders and look at them to drive efforts.  IE. Facebook card idea led be specific team… etc. 13 individuals who work together.

Q: Scott from TiVo – What are benchmarks used in reports you share?

A: Alex – Standard. traffic and engagement… how many people created/shared content.  Hard to compare… not apples to apples.  Baseline accordingly (some get more of a digital push).  Other metrics around customers (perception around brands… how do customers engage).  Avoid working as silo – measuring into those bigger metrics.

Q: Andy – Green initiatives… how do you deal with the detractors?

A: Alex – It’s a huge opportunity to turn this around and give people the correct information about your brand.  What level of noise is bad/ok?  What happens when it takes place outside of community?  Need to educate as you go.  Case by case.  Where is that balance?  Sensitive about being transparent –giving the right reasons behind what they are doing.

Q: Stephanie from Cisco – Were people in video real or actors? Have you done user generated content?

A: Alex – It was talent shot intentionally but inspired by customers.  They were actually crazy about fraps though.  User generated content?  Yes (contest for Via coffee – people submitted videos, etc).  We have a content team in house who shoots stuff and curates video (youtube channel with “coffee moment”).

Q: Costco – Frap facebook page was initially organically large– what made you want to engage with this group?

A: Alex – We wanted to bring value to the relationship.  Didn’t want to spam content – wanted to converse/share engaging content/send deals when it made sense.  Was a concept they stumbled upon recently.  You are signing up for something big – go into it with a strategy – make sure you are ready to make commitments

Q: Andy – What about typos?

A: Alex – Tricky.  Important with trademarks.  Where can we be flexible? “fraps” Trying to build guard rails with attorneys

Q: Dennis from Sportswear – How do you adapt to ever changing campaigns with developer resources? Being agile with campaigns? Monitor all campaigns?

A: Alex – You must be nimble. There are tons of campaigns and it’s hard to monitor.  Core tech team that oversees. Hired agency to monitor as well. Must be able to adapt – act quickly.

Q: Andy – Tech behind managing gold card on fb page – how do you manage?

A: Alex- New technology… still working it out.

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