Customer engagement via social media platforms is typically measured by likes, comments and shares. As a result many companies have focused their social media efforts solely on attracting as many new fans as possible with the hope of converting fans into sales.
“We want to create a connection with our customers that’s not based only on trying to ring the register” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
How does Starbucks go about building customer relationships?
1. It cultivates its most loyal fans or “super influencers” who share the most widely, by treating fans to special deals. Last Fall Starbucks ran a promotion where fans competed to have their city receive the first pumpkin spice latte . Fans were encouraged to share on Facebook and Twitter with daily & creative challenges including word searches, general trivia; pumpkin poetry, chalkboard art and scrapbooking. This focus on current relationships rather than solely focusing on attracting new customers, ensures Starbucks has more fans/followers in the long run and continued brand advocates.
2. It encourages sharing : Loyal fans are eager to share experiences with their friends through social sites as Pinterest and Instagram. Sharing is also promoted through My Starbucks Idea which encourages fans to share ideas and voice their opinions on posts. These collaborative experiences keep fans engaged and give Starbucks unlimited opportunities to strengthen ties with their customers. Sharing also spreads the goodwill and increases the likelihood that posts will appear more widely.
3. It offers a customized experience and taste specifically chosen by the customer. Examples include personalized signature drinks and My Starbucks Rewards program which is about to expand to enable customers to earn rewards for Starbucks grocery store purchases which can be redeemed later in Starbucks retail stores.
4. It is community minded and current with the causes it supports : Whether encouraging volunterism to help clean up local communities or collecting donations to help tornado victims in Oklahoma, Starbucks gives consumers a charitable reason to buy their product that is beneficial for all.
5. It cross-promotes: By sharing photos on Instagram, posting to Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, pinning on Pinterest, each network provides an opportunity to reach a new audience.
Engaging customers is about much more than just generating likes on a Facebook page. You need to make genuine connections with them, build relationships by listening to their suggestions and concerns and reward them for their loyalty. Starbucks shows building relationships has its perks.
Submitted by: Melanie Marsland, SMBP, University of Waterloo
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