Starbucks is known for its consistent brand image with friendly baristas, green straws, “chill” coffeeshop vibe venues, and the same quality beverage at any location. What many people fail to recognize about Starbuck’s brand is their exceptional presence on social media. Starbucks has 13.4 million followers on Instagram, in addition to 36 million likes on Facebook, 11.9 million Twitter followers, and
large followings on Pinterest and Youtube.
So what exactly is Starbucks doing with their social media and digital business platforms? Rather than talk about the classic forms of social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) I want to highlight a few different parts of Starbucks strategy.
Did you know you can order your drink before you get there?
The Starbucks Mobile Application is, in my opinion, genius. With over 20% of their business stemming from mobile wallet payments, I find the statement hard to refute. I think the success of the mobile app comes down to the convenience and accessibility of the platform.
The most useful attribute of the app is the ability to make a mobile order and to pay with your phone. You can upload money onto your account and scan your phone rather than paying with your debit card. You can also preorder your coffee, and the app will recognize what drinks are your favorites to make it easier for you. I found this particularly helpful over winter break when I became obsessed with a complicated drink. I was ordering a double (sometimes triple) shot of Espresso with one pump of Sugar-Free Vanilla syrup over ice in a Venti cup and would mix in a vanilla protein shake. Definitely something to try for coffee lovers- but also pretty high-maintenance to order. So, I turned to the mobile app and saved face both on my end and on the baristas end trying to process potentially my most complicated order to date.
In addition, using the mobile app to pay for your Starbucks order helps you generate points, and you can become a Gold Member in their rewards program. Their rewards program is featured on the app and will tell the user when they can cash in for a free pastry, or a discounted drink. The app also allows for music download and others features.
Beverages can have a personality too.
Starbucks has capitalized on giving their drinks a personality and identifying with the consumer. Think about the Pumpkin Spice Latte and what type of person comes to mind that might order that drink. Memes have been dedicated to the idea of this. High maintenance girls (especially teens) are presumed to be infatuated with Autumn for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, breaking out their Ugg boots, and wearing leggings with oversized sweaters all the time. Now, this isn’t to be assumed of every girly-girl, but I’d be surprised if you told me a different type of persona came to mind.
Moving on, Starbuck’s holiday cups have created a connection to the consumer in the Winter months. Starbucks first introduced the holiday season cups as a depart from the norm of crisp, white cups to a bright red color. Starbucks realized through photos on social media that many customers were doodling on these red holiday cups, so they ran with the idea. Starbucks allowed consumers to draw up designs and printed them as their holiday cups this past year. They received over 1,200 submissions from 13 different countries via Instagram. In addition to the festive cups comes festive drinks to match, only offered for a limited time.
Let’s talk about the secret menu which, as it turns out, is not so secret. It doesn’t seem like Starbucks is concerned that their “secret” menu is revealed – probably because they made it known on purpose. I think the most well known “secret” drinks are the purple and pink drinks you may have seen featured in your Snapchat or Instagram feeds. I tweeted about this article that basically guarantees you Instagram likes if you order these Ombre colored drinks on the not-so-secret menu. The drinks pictured to the right are combinations of the different colored drinks from the secret menu. I’m not sure how good it would taste to be mixing the different drinks, but do it for the gram.
Can I get a name for that order?
The last thing I want to highlight is the fact that everyone still acts so surprised when the friendly Starbucks barista misspells your name. Has anyone ever thought about the fact that maybe they do this on purpose? Starbucks wants you to Snapchat your friends that the cute barista spelled your simple name Katie as “Caty”. Better yet, Instagram it with a witty caption for your followers to identify with and comment about that time the barista didn’t know that you typically spell Matt with two t’s. Why? Because your friends who see the post may think about how good an iced Caramel Macchiato sounds right now and head to their local Starbs to buy one.
I must admit, I don’t know for a fact that any Starbucks manager promotes the misspelling of names, but it is a theory. I’m not the only one who holds it, either.
Starbucks as a whole has a consistent brand image on all of their social media platforms and uses each platform for a distinct purpose. Combined with the Starbucks stores and personal interactions, the social media platforms allow for Starbucks drinkers to feel connected to the brand and be a part of the Starbucks community. Whether the use of the social media platforms is posting a picture of your Starbucks coffee to celebrate your first day of your job on Instagram, or Snapchatting your friends about how it’s your fourth shot of espresso that day (estimated about three weeks subsequent), Starbucks brand will be sustained by the consumer through social media for years to come.
P.S. When explaining this blog post to my Starbucks-loving mother, she told me that Starbucks is now using pastel colored cups for Spring time, and followed up with this picture. I’ve seen a few of these in my Snapchat and Instagram stories already – have you? Upon looking into it further, I found a news release in which Starbucks stated that for a very limited time, you can get your hot beverages in a blue, yellow, or green cup – some with the hand-drawn designs including an umbrella and a sun. Other cups feature a blank white circle canvas to encourage the user to doodle and share on social media. I’m sure you will see plenty of these Spring cups on your social media channels over the next few days before the cups become obsolete. Another great tactic to bring people into the store, which will then be sustained by Starbucks drinkers on social media.