Starbucks has more Facebook fans than anyone in the world — more than 8 million worldwide. It’s a huge honor for the brand, but it also creates a significant “now what?” challenge.

The company says its goal is to establish meaningful relationships with fans in these communities, and they’re doing it in lots of ways, using lots of topics. Sometimes it’s for fun (like leading a record-breaking global sing-along of “All You Need is Love“), and sometimes it’s to get together around shared ideals. And sometimes, it’s simply for a coupon or discount.

Some big ideas from Starbucks’ Alexandra Wheeler and Matthew Guiste’s presentation on the topic at BlogWell San Diego:

  • Establish a basic workflow for user-generated content. Through their four forms of response (Amplify, Context-ify, Change or Ignore), Starbucks can quickly make decisions about the content their fans are creating. Positive or negative, Starbucks’ system makes it possible to react to their fans in real time.
  • Coach everyone on authentic engagement. Most social media folks get the “authentic” concept by now. Outside of that bubble, many still don’t. Alexandra and Matthew have taken the time to coach PR pros within Starbucks on how to move from corporate speak to genuine conversations.
  • Create a system to identify what matters. Starbucks uses the Twitter test to determine if something is a real issue for the social media team or not. If it doesn’t matter on Twitter, it doesn’t matter.

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7 responses to “Andy's Answers: How can Starbucks build meaningful relationships with their millions of fans?”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sbosm: How can Starbucks build meaningful relationships with their millions of fans? from @sernovitz —

  2. annie pettit says:

    The bigger question though is do millions of people WANT a relationship with starbucks. I’m a fan of bacon but that doesn’t mean I want to receive personalized emails from meat. I’m just having a little fun sharing my interests. I think marketers forget that people don’t have the same kind of invested interest in the brand.

  3. I think Starbucks have established an unique relationship with its fans that `Starbucks`coffee`is part of their daily routine and they would walk further or even try to find Starbucks without going to a nearby coffee shops.

  4. Infoholic says:

    I always giggle when I see the phrase "Starbucks Coffee". If you examine the vast majority of beverages sold by Starbucks coffee is at best just another flavor additive similar to hazelnut or caramel syrup. They should rename themselves to Starbucks Milk.

  5. @jgraziani says:

    Thanks, Andy, for this post. It's always good to see what others are thinking or doing that might be different or worthwhile. I'm not really convinced though that Twitter is the right venue for determining the value of a conversation. I guess it depends on where your market is hanging out these days.
    My recent post A Passion To Fight Childhood Obesity

  6. Tracey says:

    Starbucks mentioned having an index of some sort to determine when to respond to a complaint – vs. ignoring those who just want to complain. Anyone have something like this?

  7. […] estrategia en el último Blogwell en el que participó la marca -y que Andy Sernovitz recoge en el SmartBlog on Social Media-, la cafetera lo ha conseguido desarrollando un sistema tan particular como preciso. Las claves: […]