Businesses That are MADE for Social Media

There are businesses that certainly do better on social media than their competitors do. In my opinion, this is so not because they have more budget on social media but because of such businesses’ products are simply easier to become much more popular through social media.

Let’s see some numbers first: Starbucks has 16.1 millions of followers on Instagram and 12 millions of followers on Twitter. Compare to its competitors Dunkin Donuts, which has 1.3 millions of Instagram followers and 1.2 millions of followers on Twitter. If compare to the substitutes in such industry – McDonald’s has Instagram followers of 3 million and Twitter followers of 3.57 million.

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It’s clear that Starbucks is much more popular on different social media than its competitors and even substitute. I think the most important reason is their products, which are different stunning seasonal drinks. These can easily go viral on social media, especially when your friends and your celebrities are drinking it.

For example, this picture here is called the unicorn drink, which went viral on different social media, and a lot of my friends went to buy this drink and posted on social media even they never drink coffee. This phenomenon simply can be explained by the stunning looking of the drink.

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seriously, how do you not like it when their drinks look like this…367A2D7700000578-0-image-m-44_1469120912963.jpg


Starbucks has a great brand reputation and it is known for their varieties of drinks. Over the years they have created a strong social media presence in the digital age. Having those Instagram Famous Drinks helped it to promote its business. Compare to its competitors such as Dunkin Donuts, which doesn’t have such strong social media presence because it is a lower cost provider and their drinks don’t have such stunning look as Starbucks has.

what about some other industry like Technology?

Here are the numbers: GoPro has 13.6 millions of followers on Instagram and more than 300 millions of  #gopro topic on Instagram. Compare to some Tech giants such as Apple, which has 4.4 millions of followers on Instagram and Sony has 5.5 millions of followers.

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GoPro is a company who manufactures eponymous action cameras. As a company, Apple and Sony are much bigger than GoPro, and they have more products than GoPro does. However, GoPro certainly is doing much better than those Tech giants on Instagram.

GoPro’s products such as waterproof actions cameras and drones, connect extreme sports with technology. People use their products when they are: scuba diving, skydiving, snowboarding, surfing etc. Such connection with technology makes the audience and customer feel excited and thinking that their products are cool!

Here is one of their video on YouTube which is made by their product, it has 45 millions of views.

If you are working or studying, their videos and posts make you want to purchase their cameras and just go out to explore the world. Such cool videos which are made by their products helped them to gain many viewers and followers on youtube and Instagram.

Certain businesses such as Starbucks and GoPro have products that can create a strong social media presence. It is interesting to see how they took advantage of this and promote the businesses.

Another example I want to point out is KPOP, Korean Pop Music. Even it is an industry, we can view it as a business. Several years ago, there are not many people know what KPOP is in the United States. People used to only listen to U.S pop music and watch the U.S produced music videos. Most people used to think that they just can’t listen to other countries’ music when they don’t understand the language and America have the best music industry, which is still probably true. Until in 2012, a music video called: Gangnam style posted on Youtube:

This video went viral, it now has 3.1 billions of views and 14 millions of likes. This amount of impressive audiences can easily beat any American music videos. I know the Gangnam style song is a little wired and funny, but whether you hate it or love it, you can’t deny the fact that the artist called PSY use this one single song and his signature dance to bring people over the world together.

After Gangnam style, many artists from the KPOP industry use Youtube as their media platform to promote their business and enter the U.S market.

For example, BTS is a boy band, they are very active in social media and they have one of the most popular music videos on Youtube. Most of their fans know them from Youtube and love their different style and music.

The MV here has 311 millions of viewers and 4.6 millions of likes.

They enter the U.S market successfully even they don’t speak much English. They hosted many concerts in the U.S. In 2017 they won the Top Social Award at U.S Billboard Music Award. They also attend many popular shows such as Allen shows, The late show, and Jimmy Kimmel.

The business model of Starbucks, GoPro and KPOP are similar, which is using social media as a platform to promote their business and attract more customers. Such strategy is very successful in the digital age.


  1. Great post, Henry! I completely agree that these industries are mastering the use of social media to successfully promote their business. From your examples, I believe GoPro does the best job at utilizing social media even if their numbers aren’t as high as companies like Starbucks.

    I feel like GoPro’s social media success can be attributed to the fact that their product provides a means of capturing content people share via social media. While pretty Starbucks drinks are nice to add to a Snapchat story or an Instagram feed, a GoPro can be used to actually capture the things we share. Unlike Starbucks, GoPro’s were made as a product of social media and for that reason I believe they do the best job at utilizing it.

  2. mqzhang · ·

    Thanks for sharing such an insightful post, Henry! Just as companies in the mid-20th century had to adapt to television displacing print media, so too must companies in the 21st century contend with digital advertising displacing all other sources of advertising. I agree with your analysis on the appeal of companies such as Starbucks and GoPro in today’s internet age. For such companies and their products to do well, they must have a certain “wow factor” that inspires audiences to purchase their own products to share themselves. In turn, these people allow companies to effectively leverage the network effect to an unprecedented degree, encouraging explosive and exponential growth in the span of days, months, or years.

    I would like to propose a “shareability factor” for products and services in the connected 21st century. For products to score high on this scale, they must possess both visual and social appeal. Visual appeal encompasses characteristics such as aesthetics and uniqueness. These factors initially draw attention to a brand’s product. Social appeal, the feeling of excitement when someone envisions sharing those products online themselves, then takes over to encourage a content viewer to begin searching for places to purchase that product themselves, thereby increasing their perceived social standing amongst their network.

    I’m sure companies that are maintaining a strong social media presence has similar and more advanced systems to create products that maximize the potential for users to share products online, generating almost free advertising and allowing companies to maximize the purchasing power of an advertising dollar. As social media advertising continues to proliferate, I’m sure we will continue to see increases in the amount of wonderfully shareable products online. And what consumer doesn’t love that?

  3. roarkword · ·

    I enjoyed the use of three very different industries to examine the effects that social media can have on businesses. However, I would argue that the number of followers isn’t always a direct translation to more customers. Amusing content can be successful at garnering attention, but translating that attention into meaningful purchases or value to a business is a completely different matter altogether; whats more, these three businesses get a return on investment toward advertising in very different ways. So while “doing better” on social media can easily be measured by likes/follows, the effective return on social media campaign investment is not as simple a matter. Tara’s point sums up this sentiment quite well given that Go Pros were made as an means of relaying more social media content, so it would make sense that they get better returns on their social media campaigns; whereas Starbucks is simply using social media to advertise campaigns that are in use across all advertising channels.

  4. Lucy Wilson · ·

    Really interesting topic, Henry. I think you bring up a interesting relationship between companies and how their products translate to social media. Starbucks vs. McDonald’s was a great example to illustrate this. It’s not hard to understand why people would prefer to post a photo of a limited edition rainbow drink than to post one of McDonald’s delicious but incredibly ordinary french fries.

    On top of what you mentioned in your post, I think it’s also important to look at how brands’ social media presence translates to business results. You mentioned GoPro as a company that was built for social media. Despite its success on those platforms, the company’s financial success has tanked the last year or two. This reminds me of our discussion around Bud Light’s “Dilly, Dilly” campaign that had little effect on the company’s performance.

    1. HenryChenChen · ·

      I agree with your point, but its quite hard to identify how brands’ social media presence translates to business results.

  5. Addison LeBeau · ·

    Great post! I personally loved the section about Starbucks, because I am a former Starbucks barista. I loved that you highlighted the ‘Pink Drink’ and sub-sequential Rainbow Drinks! I was working the summer these blew up in popularity, and it was very intriguing to watch. First, it became popular by the influencers who ‘discovered’ the recipe for this drink, and surprisingly Starbucks immediately embraced it and advertised it through their own social media! However, they wouldn’t release an official recipe for it, which was very contradictory. Their Instagram posts drove consumers to order the mystery drink, however there was no uniform method to make them which led to variation and disappointed consumers. I think that entire experience was a great example of a way in which they’ve responded to being a social media made brand.

  6. jjaeh0ng · ·

    As a South Korea native, I am more than surprised how k-pop has become a global pop culture today. It was 2001 when PSY made his debut in Korea. He was a big hit and a huge sensation to the Korean music industry with his maverick style (his nickname PSY came from the world “psycho” as he described). HIs success did not only came from his eccentricity but also musical talents in singing, dancing, and composing in addition to humorous character in many TV shows: In fact, he was a versatile entertainer. I have been a huge fan of PSY since then. I remember listening to his new song, which was very unique at first while its music video was hilarious, on a Korean search engine website “Naver” in 2012. Few months later, almost everyone around the world was saying “Gangnam Style!” and dancing the iconic horse dance.

    Being a PSY-holic for more than a decade, I was so proud to see the phenomenon yet wondering how was this even possible? The story behind was very interesting. Worldwide fans of Big Bang, another very famous Korean boy band, who watched their music videos on YouTube were directed to PSY’s Gangnam Style M/V for related videos. How? Because Big Bang and PSY are in the same company called YG Entertainment in Korea. (You see the connection there, right?) It was thus Big Bang fans that made that Gangnam Style video go viral and the rest is history. With that, I strongly agree with you that YouTube was a platform that effectively introduced a talented South Korean singer to the world. It is actually not just a story of k-pop. J-pop (Japanese music) and all other “world” music genres are available on YouTube. Music industry, in general, is utilizing social media platforms to make songs go viral and eventually popular.

    p.s. I would like to share the video of PSY’s brilliant debut stage with you guys. Just for the note, his debut album title was “PSY from the Psycho World!” Hope you enjoy.

  7. Very nice post. I might actually constructively disagree with your conclusions (or at least the reasons why they are true). I don’t necessarily think that some products are naturally suited for social media, but that some companies make their products appealing on SM. Starbucks is a perfect example. They wouldn’t have developed the Unicorn Drink if it weren’t for instagram that is perfect to sell that type of drink.

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