According to Brad, Starbucks has embraced Social Media because of its growing popularity, but also because it works. He gave specific examples of how Starbucks uses Social Media as a key element in their branding strategy and also cited a recent Razorfish study in which 97% of Connected Consumers reported that a positive digital brand experience influenced their purchase behavior.
Starbucks uses Social Media five ways:
- As standard operating procedure for any new launch or corporate policy initiative.
- To monitor conversation and become aware of emerging issues that might positively or negatively impact the Starbucks brand or products.
- To provide contextual and complete information around issues or controversies (i.e. to make sure that all facts are available as well as to give their brand champions complete information).
- As a rapid response tool to issues or questions.
- To put a human face on the company by providing information in a personal and relevant manner.
Starbucks management is confident that social media, in conjunction with more traditional tools, has played a significant role in the success of the Via brand. Social media has also been used as the primary medium in successful promotions for Free Pastry Day and Red Cup Day.Brad also related an interesting story of how Twitter and Facebook helped with an international crisis management issue. An update to the Starbucks website has referenced Taiwan as a Province of China. This is a very controversial issue, and the blogosphere began humming shortly after it was posted. The issue was discovered and acknowledged within 3 hours, and fixed within 24 hours, just as the traditional media outlets were discovering the story. Starbucks' fast response made further reporting a non-story and traditional media outlets moved on to other stories. This is a great example of how listening and responding quickly can work to the advantage of any brand.
As more case studies come to light on the value of Social Media as a branding tool, ad agencies must listen and respond. Social media is not a fad. It is a legitimate way to monitor and converse with your brand's audience, and agencies who continue to ignore its power and presence as well as its branding potential will regret it.