This is a blog geared toward small businesses, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play with the big boys sometimes. I wanted to talk about one company that is doing a lot of things right: Starbucks
Starbucks is a pretty bad-ass player at Social Media. Sure they’re huge, but that doesn’t mean a small business like yourself can’t learn from them. Here are a couple lessons worth paying attention to:
Listen To Your Customers
Starbucks has an entire website dedicated to listening to their customers. It’s called My Starbucks Idea, and it’s a place for those to give suggestions on how to improve the “Starbucks experience”.
I think of this idea as I think about editing blog posts. Sometimes we are so close to something that we can’t see how to make it better. If I work on a post for an hour, I am so involved, that I can’t step back and see a typo. But if I have someone read it over for me, then they will catch it right away. Same idea here. Sometimes your customers will really have amazing ideas on how to improve the experience they have with you. Take a note from Starbucks and make sure there is a forum where they can contact you and leave a suggestion.
Two big reasons why this works for Starbucks: 1) Any customer who is willing to register can participate 2) Others are able to see submitted ideas and vote on them, and even see results.
Use Your Employees
Starbucks Ideas In Action Blog is written by many Starbucks employees about different aspects of the Starbucks experience. A lot of times they are reacting to the ideas and suggestions put out by customers. But sometimes they are announcing a contest or touting a new coffee or telling a personal story about themselves and coffee. Whatever they decide to blog about, it’s a great way to engage with customers and open up a dialogue.
Twitter For Multiple Purposes
Starbucks has a Twitter handle @Starbucks. They use this for customer service mostly. But they also have @MyStarbucksIdea which is a Twitter shoot off of the webpage. They use this handle to encourage customers to engage. Last week they ran a pumpkin spice latte haiku contest in order to promote their seasonal product. So not only is Starbucks using Twitter to deal with customer complaints, but they are also using it for fun ideas like contests and games.
Work An Unexpected Angle
Did you know that Starbucks has a Youtube channel? Until researching this blog post, I didn’t. And when I found out, I have to admit, I was surprised. It had never occurred to me that they would work that angle. The channel has videos of their advertisements and commercials, along with info on their coffee blends.
Do What’s Right
I am shutting off the very loud part of my brain that is more cynical than many can imagine in order to write this next segment. Starbucks does a lot of great things as an ethical company, and they make sure you know that.
I think it’s great. If you are a company that is participating in charities, helping out your community, or just doing something that is moral, don’t be afraid to share it. Starbucks makes their values known from the second you are on their site. While some might say they should just do it because it’s right and not have to shout about it, I say you put it out there. You will most likely impress more people than you turn off.
All in all, Starbucks goes out if its way to engage customers and listen to them. Sure they’re big, but there is still a lot to be learned.
What do you think about Starbucks use of social media? Are you going to apply any of these lessons to your small business?
September 21, 2010
I am just getting into the social media sphere, but to me it all makes common sence to keep your customers engaged. The UK is still way behind the US when it comes to the use of social media. I believe it is just a matter of understanding a business and developing ideas on how they can create a community of loyal customers if the organization takes up social media.
I love the whole idea behind social media. As it is many organizations are scared to get into it because they know the services they offer are below par. It is definately an opportunity for small businesses to rub shoulders with the big boys.
September 22, 2010
Hi Peter, I didn’t realize the UK was behind in social media usage, but if you’re in the UK this is such an amazing opportunity for you to use it to your fullest advantage and get ahead of other small businesses. It really is a great way to build a huge brand without spending too much money. Thanks for the comment!