You are here

Starbucks - a brand that embrace April Fools day

Starbucks are arguably the worlds leading social marketers having been ranked number one in online engagement, number one on Facebook, and the number one Tweeted brand.  They were the first to have over ten million fans on Facebook, with the number still growing (over 11million to date), as well as having just under a million followers on Twitter.  However, their digital marketing efforts go far beyond just Twitter and Facebook.

Starbucks’ initial objective is to engage their customers outside the four walls of a coffee shop.  The social media space lends itself well to a brand like Starbucks; as they aim to use social media as a way of building relationships with their customers rather than marketing towards them.

Their message

Starbucks use social media as a tool to get their messages out.  For instance on April fools day, they create campaigns that have an element of fun (coffee from a USB stick).  The message here is that Starbucks is a fun brand that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.  This will resonate well with its customer base as they too want to see themselves as fun people and part of a fun brand.  Likewise, they ran a campaign to save the forests by trying to get customers to reuse their old coffee cups.  The message here is to show that Starbucks care about the planet, and create a sense of community by galvanizing customers around a shared idea.

These marketing efforts create great content that can be integrated throughout all the Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, PR and advertising activities, and through their retail teams.  The result of these particular campaigns increased their non US Facebook fans by 20%.  However, Starbucks states that the number doesn’t actually matter; they see these campaigns as an opportunity to engage and build new relationships.

Starbucks’ key in creating a message is to be authentic and to not outsource their voice.  Agencies can act as good eyes and the ears of a company, by analyzing and listening to the market.  However, the mouth that talks about the brand has to come from in-house.  All messages must complement both the personality of the people within the company (the person tweeting for example), and the organisation’s brand message.

Making a commitment

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, says that ‘the key is to connect directly to the most loyal customers who will drive future growth’.  Starbucks decided to take a risk and invest in their most dedicated customers to see what the outcome would be.  They created a website called ‘My Starbucks Idea’, which was an online community where customers can go and suggest ideas.  The site took off with great success; generating thousands of ideas, with hundreds of them being put into action.  The first idea that was put into place was free Wi-Fi throughout the coffee shops.  This community is now built into the Starbucks culture for generating new ideas and enhancing the customer experience.


Starbucks use analytics to gain insight into future content strategies.  They believe that the art of good content is to say ‘no’.  The only content that should be released should be that which will add value to Starbucks relationship with their customers.  With insight into the market through analytics; specific content can be created which is relevant to their customers, rather than spamming them at every opportunity.

Starbucks also like to point out that they don’t take analytics from just one platform.  They incorporate the analytics from across all platforms to offer a full voice of results to the leadership, which then decide the next direction of the company.

How B2B companies can use Starbucks digital strategy

Although Starbucks are a B2C organisation; there are plenty of things that B2B firms can take away from their digital activity:

  • Starbucks outline the use of social media as a way of engaging with their audience and developing their relationship with them, rather than marketing towards them.  Relationships are just as important for B2B companies as they are to B2C companies.  By engaging your audience and making them feel part of the brand; you are building a long lasting connection with that organisation.  This in B2B is important for ongoing business services.
  • Starbucks say that when choosing content you have to be good at saying no.  B2B companies have to use engaging, interesting content which relates to their audience and can again further develop their relationship with their brand.
  • Starbucks believe that the most loyal customers are going to drive the future growth of their company.  B2B organisations need to have strong relationships with frequent clients and possibly reward them for that exact reason. This would increase regular running profit and help maintain a healthy business position.
  • Finally Starbucks exhaust analytics to the full extent.  Starbucks use analytics from all of their different platforms to gain a full voice of all their marketing efforts.  This gives the top level management reliable information to go on, before making any decisions about what direction to take the company in the future.