COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study

How Starbucks Uses Social Media to Engage With Its Audience   

Starbucks uses a multi-channel approach when engaging with their customers over social media.


Photo Credit: Pexels.

App/Rewards Program

Starbucks Rewards has created a loyal following both with an experience-based program and rewards program.

The experience side allows users to manage their card, reload funds, use location service and is enhanced by mobile ordering—a customer can order and pay for any menu item, chose the location, and walk in and pick up their drink without having to wait in line, thus creating loyalty by this enhancement to the customer experience.

Members are given “stars” (points) for their purchases that can be redeemed for any menu item when they reach 125 stars.  Participants can also reach “Gold Level” status which comes with great perks, including an actual gold card.  The elite member status symbol is a strong motivator.

The app also features seasonal drinks and menu items that greet the customer when they first load the app.  Oftentimes a member will receive more stars for trying these recommended offerings.

As a member, I regularly receive triggered emails that mirror my purchasing history with a slight twist.  For example, I frequently buy Caramel Macchiatos and Cool Lime Refeshers.  The company offers me extra stars if I purchase both, plus another menu item of their choosing within a certain time period.  It is a win-win: the customer receives a bonus and tries something new, and the company is upselling by offering extra stars.


Besides the usual company-based information that is found on most brand pages (contests, jobs, store locator), Starbucks creates content that focuses on the personal rather than the business so that their page is friendly and engaging.


Starbucks has a strong presence on LinkedIn that features more than job postings and selling coffee—they highlight their company culture and post interesting articles.

They also emphasize building community and with that, increase loyalty.  The company aligns with other non-profits that serve local communities like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.


The brand’s posts and customer’s posts alike feature seasonal content—warm and cosy in the winter, and bright, cheery, and refreshing in the summer—with friendly captions.  Starbucks fans also show brand loyalty through their posts.

The platform is also used by the company advertise promotions which increases engagement and brand loyalty.  And they love to regram, especially celebrities drinking Starbucks.


Starbucks’ Twitter communications strategy includes original and retweeted content: information-sharing, emotion-evoking, and action-inducing.  Their replies consist of information, apology/support, and comments which including showing gratitude.


Year-after-year, they creates successful media campaigns—think Pumpkin Spice Latte and their famous red cups.  Of late, one of their more successful campaigns had customers submit their red cup designs through social media.  Thirteen different designs were selected and used that year.  With personalization influencing customers like never before, this campaign was on point.

Where They Miss the Mark

Starbucks is definitely a successful B2C model however, where they succeed in engagement, they fall down in transparency with their rewards program—the parameters for the program change frequently and communication is not great.  Here’s an example of poor communication: did you know that you now have to claim your birthday drink on your actual birthday?  You used to have four days to do so (down from the original seven days).



COM0015 – Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

When I started thinking about companies with a strong social media presence, there were a few companies that came to mind – Tim Horton’s, McDonalds, Harvey’s, Red Bull and Oreo, to name a few. But two companies that stick out in my mind when I think of successful social media campaigns are Dove and Starbucks.

The key to any successful social media campaign is engagement and interaction between the consumer and the company. If the consumer is not engaging or the company is not responding to the customer, the point of the campaign is lost.

Starbucks has an active online presence with almost 38 million likes on Facebook, 181, 000 followers on Twitter (There are 6.88M followers in the US), and almost 67,000 followers on Instagram. They also have a YouTube channel with 46, 843 subscribers.

Starbucks is extremely well branded, and all of their social media platforms reflect the experience that Starbucks is trying to promote to their customers. I think they do a good job of evoking the senses, and creating the desire to go and enjoy a Starbucks beverage.

But most importantly, there is regular activity on their social media sites, to keep consumers engaged, and maintain two-way communication between Starbucks and the online user. They are on top of all comments; whether they are positive or negative, and responding to what their customers have to say.

Dove also has a very active online campaign, especially with their Campaign For Real Beauty. Dove has over 23.5M likes on Facebook, 134, 000 followers on Twitter, a YouTube channel with 960 followers, 17, 000 followers on Instagram, and 316 followers on Pinterest.

Their social media strategy is very comprehensive, utilizing all of the main platforms. And while some platforms are more successful than others, Dove does a good job of communicating their brand and message across all platforms, and keeping the consumer engaged.

The company that I feel would benefit from a social media strategy, is actually one that previously ran a campaign that comes to mind when I think of successful social media strategies. Unfortunately, once the campaign ended, so did their social media engagement.

The company I’m talking about is Lays. Lays has over 7M likes on Facebook, 287K followers on Twitter, 12K followers on Instagram, and 5,232 followers on their YouTube channel.

Lays Do Us A Flavour contest was brilliant for generating online engagement. People were asked to create new chip flavours, share their creations online and social media voted to determine the winner. People loved the idea, and the possibility that your creation could be the next big chip flavour, generated tons of activity on their social media sites, especially Facebook and Pinterest. But as soon as the contest was over…silence…on all platforms.

Lays was in a position to take advantage of the large number followers they had acquired, and maintain interest in the brand, but there hasn’t been any activity on their Facebook site since May 13th. Their Twitter site is a bit more consistent, and the last activity was October October 22, but that is still too much silence for a social media platform. But Facebook?? They have an audience of over 7M people just sitting there waiting!

I think Lays should maintain their existing platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, but they need to re-engage their followers. I think they could benefit from a Pinterest account where they post recipe ideas i.e. chip dips, uses for lays chips, food pairing ideas etc. and link these to their Facebook and Twitter accounts so that people are reminded of the brand. And pictures, pictures always make people hungry!

The resources are there, but they need to be properly utilized.

COM0015 Blog #2 | Social Media Heroes and Zeroes

Social media heroThe Heroes
I’ve always maintained that my top two social media heroes are WestJet and Starbucks. These are two of my favourite companies. Not only do I enjoy their products and services, but I like their brands. Both companies believe in building a community with their employees and customers. This sense of community—of accountability, of corporate social responsibility and of building something beyond a business-to-consumer relationship—is what drives the actions of both companies, including their social media activities.

WestJet maintains an impressive following on social media with over 244,700 followers on Twitter and over 463,900 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote ticket sales, services and destinations, respond to feedback and inform people of flight delays, career opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share travel plans and pictures. Sharing pictures is especially popular on Winglet Wednesdays where passengers take a picture of the plane’s winglet—the near vertical extension of the wing tip—and post it to Twitter using the hashtag #wingletwednesday. This is a great way to have some fun while promoting the various destinations to where WestJet flies.

WestJet is excellent at responding to questions and comments in a timely and empathetic way. WestJet is also a fun company with a sense of humour and it shows through in its posts—jokes (its April Fool’s Day prank of a new Furry Family program was particularly good), entertaining questions to spark lighthearted discussions, pictures of staff and guests enjoying themselves and of the scenic destinations where it flies. But what impresses me most is WestJet’s ability to remain professional and to handle negative feedback positively, always working towards resolution.

WestJet is an airline that really cares for its customers—online and in the air.

Like WestJet, Starbucks Canada maintains an impressive following on social media with over 93,300 followers on Twitter and over 642,400 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote its products, respond to feedback and share job opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share favourite menu items and pictures. I especially like how Starbucks sells its products through social media by posting either tantalizing pictures of its drinks and food items or comforting pictures of, say, a drink cup next to a novel or a cup with a sweater cozy. Through these images, Starbucks is attempting to make an emotional connection with its followers, selling them an experience.

Starbucks is also excellent at engaging with its followers. It wants to know what people like about the Starbucks experience and what it can do to improve. The My Starbucks Idea allows people to suggest new products and services via an online forum. Others can then discuss and vote on the idea. Ideas with the most votes receive serious consideration from the company and can be implemented. The soft pretzels that Starbucks has introduced to its line up of baked goods are due to someone’s Starbucks Idea. Starbucks is also very good at answering people’s questions via Twitter and Facebook. From personal experience, questions directed to the company were answered within 24 hours.

Starbucks aims to share great coffee with its friends, and it does this both in its stores and online.

The Zero: Metro
Calling Metro a zero is a bit harsh since it does have a Facebook page, with over 99,500 fans, that it uses to promote its online flyer, products and recipes—along with enticing pictures—respond to customers’ questions and engage them by asking them about their favourite recipes and other food-related questions. However, not only is Metro missing an opportunity to engage with people on Twitter as it does on Facebook, it’s missing the chance to gather input on its existing and potential product-lines (Selection and Irresistible brands). This focus-group type activity could be done through Facebook or Twitter, or it could be done through an online discussion forum that’s integrated into Metro’s website. Metro is also missing the opportunity to be of service to people by providing them with consumer alerts and tips on healthy eating and food safety.

Metro could learn from its competitor, Loblaws—another social media hero—on the benefits a comprehensive social media strategy could have on a grocery chain.

What social media heroes or zeros have you encountered?

Image by JD Hancock

COMM0014 – Blog Post #4: B2C Case Study

The B2C business that I decided to research and is certainly at the top of their social media presence is Starbucks. With 35 million follows on Facebook, 5 million followers on Twitter, 1.6 million followers on Instagram, a presence on Foursquares, and has an iPhone app. This is a solid example where the coffee giant has commanded a massive connection to their consumer base on a social media landscape.  By browsing throughout all their social platforms, I determined people connect with Starbucks for free music downloads, sharing pictures in the moment with the product, express their anger and frustration with the company, specials on drinks, and checking into locations. Coffee in general is a part of the everyday work life of most people,  and today we are more busy then ever but yet we all find time to connect online with our smartphones, and who is there interacting with us in a global online community? Starbucks is, and they have over 20,000 locations in 62 countries which makes it the biggest coffeehouse company in the world.

The company just released a new social media strategy through twitter that everyone should check out, it is brilliant marketing. What you do is sign into your Starbucks account, then you type in the twitter handle of the person you would like to tweet a free coffee to, then Starbucks will then tweet that special someone a link (it’s a barcode) to redeem your treat in the shop by having the barrister scan it. I can’t think of anything better than this that would brighten someone’s day when they received a tweet in the morning from a friend for a free coffee, it’s a win win situation for everyone. As I had mentioned previously, Starbucks has a strong presence online but in order to hold on to it they must continuously come up with new campaigns and activities to keep the consumers engaged, and I’m seeing no signs of slowing down.

Just over a week ago this was tweeted:

Starbucks20 Oct

Customers asked. We answered: The Braille gift card now available year-round. 


Just another example of listening to your customers’ needs and concerns, such a minimalist change to a Starbucks card that would target a certain customer base but yet it truly shows you are in touch with what people want from your product. Starbucks may have had the advantage of being around for a few decades by now, but they decided to be a leader and become one of the most socially engaged companies out there. Companies wanting to engage in social media certainly need to study Starbucks rise to the top.