How Starbucks Engages Millions of Facebook Fans

social media expert interviewIn this video I interview Alex Wheeler, Director of Digital Strategy at Starbucks. Alex shares how Starbucks built a Facebook community of over 7 million fans by asking their community to help them build their official Facebook page.

Alex gives you some useful tips on engaging customers on social media. And you’ll hear details of how Starbucks uses video marketing on different social media channels.You’ll also find out what Alex refers to as their “scrappy” approach to social media.

Be sure to check out some more takeaways below.


Here are some more takeaways:

  • When launching their new instant coffee, Starbucks Via, through social media, Starbucks used social media primarily to listen to what their customers had to say.
  • Starbucks creates brand story videos to share on social media and engage with their customers.
  • Videos were used in their Haiti outreach campaign as a tool to engage customers and let them know about this option to contribute to Haiti relief program.
  • Starbucks has different roles for videos when publishing them on YouTube or Facebook.
  • Alex says you need to listen holistically and understand how things fit into the big picture, and then balance this with what’s right for the social media channels you use.

Find out more about Starbucks here: Twitter, YouTube, and be sure to look at the Starbucks Around The World tab on their Facebook page.

Are you a Starbucks fan? What do you think about their social media strategy? Please share your comments below.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, and host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. He also authored of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.sunandmoonvision.org/filmforgood Becky Sangha

    This is a great post! I love the way starbucks has allowed their fans to help them with their branding of the instant coffee line. Photos and videos from people making and consuming the coffee in different places, from remote to everyday, really gives the product appeal, and lets the customer know starbucks is listening to them. I’ll pass this on in my blog. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessicathedancer Jessica Hanson

    Great interview. Shes a very savvy lady and well spoken!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    I know it sounds crazy, but I do not drink coffee. But I really love all the creative ideas that Starbucks brings to the table.

  • http://www.awencreative.com Kelsey Childress

    starbucks really knows what they’re doing. Thanks for the interview!

  • Maguire09

    This was a great interview, thank you. Alex offers some really great brand marketing and outreach advice. I also think it is great how Starbucks, unlike other companies out there, decided to invite existing fan pages to be part of their official page as opposed to attempting to dis-ban them as some companies have. Social media is a chance for companies to return to older more traditional standards of practice, where the customer really does matter.

    There is an interview series that you might enjoy of social media experts discussing current trends and future applications of social media.
    http://www.ourblook.com/topic/social_media.html

  • http://startups.com/ juliacassidy

    It is true, I agree with @Maguire09, excellent interview and useful advice! If there is something better than getting true testimonials and advice based on real experiences, it is to see them on a video interview. Especially when it comes from a successful company like Starbucks.
    Great job!
    I’ll recommend this interview to all the entrepreneurs I interact with.

  • Tomasz

    Great example of how to build active community around your brand in social media. In Poland Maxwell House brand spent thousands of Polish Zloty for fanpage creation and encouraged people to become “fan” by giving every person a cup with Maxwell Hous logo. They distributed 50 000 cups and built community that is actually dead :-) I like approach presented by Starbuck.

    Michael great job, thanks for this material!

  • David Epstein

    Weighting my 8min. against the ideas I picked up came up with and excellent R.O.I.

  • swagv

    While the points you write here are factual, Michael, you are being tight-lipped about the elephant in the kitchen on this topic. Facebook fan counts are a for-profit business line within Facebook. Businesses pay for placement and encouragement like any other CPC campaign.

    To completely gloss over the fact that Starbucks is also paying Facebook handsome money to inflate their fan count is completely disingenuous on your part.

  • http://twitter.com/worldmikel worldmikel

    SBUX has done such a clever marketing job that Dunkin’ Donuts ads appear prominently on this page. ;o)
    Starbucks is such a bunch of GreenWashers! Co-opting the Green movement is really a sin for this company.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Swagv,

    Thanks for your message. You don’t seem to understand Facebook. No one pays to Facebook in exchange for higher numbers. If they pay Facebook it is for advertising to draw people to their fan page.

    For example, we have over 6000 fans and we have not paid Facebook a dime. How about you show some evidence for your claims. If it is true, I will be happy to let the world know about it.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/william2233 william sawyers

    I love star bucks from a children author of Concord, Ca.<Besides the great flavors it helps me focus on writing my books.

  • http://www.facebook.com/socialmediareach Shane

    Great video.

  • http://budurl.com/ynfr Megan Zuniga

    Starbucks has great appeal even if it’s not the best coffee out there. Still, I love it. They do more than just market their product, they create influence. And I love those cute little virtual Starbucks you can give away in FB.

  • http://thesocialdeviants.com Taylor V

    Michael – thanks for the great interview with Alex! I love seeing the personalities behind the brands, especially when they are as successful as Starbucks continues to be.

    As part of the social marketing movement, I completely sympathize about having to be “scrappy” and “asking for forgiveness, not permission.” Now that companies have seen the power of social to motivate consumer engagement, each socially-active brand has become richer and more relevant to consumers. Talk about a new kind of “top of mind!” Here’s to developing deeper and more meaningful relationships for B2B and B2C.

  • Lauren

    STOP WASTING TIME MANUALLY MARKETING ON FACEBOOK!!!

    http://www.thefacebookwizard.com

    Unlimited adds, comments, messages, likes, etc.

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  • http://browsingideas.com Chantelle

    I am a Starbucks nerd, they create a great community where ever they go. Here is my thoughts http://browsingideas.com/starbucks-mammoth-facebook-competitions-and-interactive-apps/

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