Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Power of Social Media (or How Starbucks Made My Day...)

I work in marketing so I am well aware of the power of social media. I have seen it used in some truly ingenious ways...and some severely egregious ways as well.

Recently I was the lucky benefactor of what was - in my humble opinion - a brilliant use of social media.

I am a loyal Starbucks customer - a gold card carrying, daily coffee stop making customer. And I get very excited when the holidays arrive and I get my first red cup.

Also, as a marketing junkie I love seeing what the cup design looks like, what their 'tagline' and strategy is for the holidays and how that translates into the decor of the store. This year they are using this:

Share Joy...simple and effective...I approved.

One recent Tuesday morning - after a very rough night's sleep - I sent out this tweet:

About 45 minutes later I received this reply from the official Starbucks Canada twitter account:

I was literally blown away. Especially considering that in my original tweet I didn't mention Starbucks directly...just the hashtag of #needcoffee

I promptly DM'd my email address and received this email a few minutes later:

Once again...I was blown away.  I had expected a coupon for one free coffee...not a $15 gift card.  This was going way above and beyond...

Note the highlighted postscript at the bottom - a brilliantly subtle revenue generating strategy. While I'm happy and excited at the receipt of my own unexpected gift they gave me the chance to pass on the feeling and Share Joy with someone else. How could I not? And I bet I was not the only one that did.

I also spent the entire day sharing my story with friends, family, co-workers and social media connections. I couldn't say enough good things about Starbucks and what they had done that day to make me happy...

Of course I knew I wasn't the sole person that Starbucks had singled out to Share Joy with that day.  But I was very curious what it was about my particular tweet that got me I checked out their twitter timeline.

Turns out my choice of hashtag - #needcoffee - was a perfect example of right place, right time. All the other lucky recipients at the same time used the same one.

I dug a little deeper and found that the social marketing team also rewarded tweets that didn't even mention coffee at all!  There were people that missed transit connections, were studying for exams, kept up by crying babies, etc.

This one was a particular favourite of mine...

So well done Starbucks...for creating a genuinely engaging social media strategy that really managed to make an already loyal customer feel like a part of your community.

This is social media at it's best.

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