By now most major brands have realized that they need to get involved in social media, even if it’s only in a small way. A year ago, only a handful of companies were willing to put their reputation on the line and experiment with establishing a social media presence. One of these leaders was Starbucks, one of America’s favorite coffee chains.
As early as 2006, Starbucks was developing ways for consumers to interact directly with its brand online and extending the experience beyond its thousands of retail locations. In this astoundingly early year, the company signed up for its first official Twitter account, which now boasts more than 887,000 followers. In an effort to take its social media activities even further, in 2008 it developed My Starbucks Idea, which ReadWriteWeb described as “a socially driven marketplace for Starbucks-related ideas that will help the company reinvent itself”. On MSI, which also has its own Twitter account, consumers can literally share their ideas for improvement with the company, giving them a virtually unprecedented say in the direction of the brand.
Starbucks has also stayed on the cusp of new social media platforms such as Foursquare and continues to forge innovative partnerships with them like the “Barista” badge. Coffee-addicts have the chance to be awarded the “Barista” badge and publicly declare their infatuation by checking into five different Starbucks locations. This was a very smart move, considering how far some Foursquare users will go to obtain an obscure badge. Starbucks has decided that Foursquare is worth the investment based on last week’s decision to take its involvement with the platform to the next level by announcing the first-ever nationwide mayor special.
Once a user becomes the mayor of an individual Starbucks location, they automatically unlock the Mayor Offer, which the company plans to change-up after an undetermined amount of time. From now until June 28th, the Mayor Offer is $1 off of a Frappucino. Yet another intelligent move on behalf of the social media thought-leader, because it is sure to spur intensified competition for the coveted title of mayor. As someone who considers herself a Foursquare addict, I would without a doubt make an extra trip to Starbucks if it meant that I held onto that honor (although it would more than likely be a Dunkin Donuts instead.)
However, Christina Khoury recently brought up a good point about the new Starbucks offer to my attention.
After checking into a local Starbucks and discovering the deal, she was disappointed to learn that the special was a dollar off a customized Frappucino. She doesn’t like Frappucinos. Coffee addicts don’t drink Frappucinos. The offer was related to the new special Starbucks has been promoting for its Frappucino happy hour which could suggest that the mayor offer doesn’t target loyal Starbucks customers. She thinks a Starbucks mayor should choose whatever drink he wants to use the special on. True coffee addicts probably won’t be willing to pick a different drink simply because they’ll save a dollar. While the prospect of saving money is tempting, it’s still not enough for her to change her order from a skinny dolce cinnamon latte as it would ruin her morning and most likely, her day. I’m sure she’s not the only one.
I think Starbucks dropped the ball on its mayorship special. I know I’m not the only who thought this way either so I’m curious, what would you like to see Starbucks do in its next social media initiative? What else can they do with Foursquare? Who knows – if we got Betty White on SNL maybe we can get Starbucks to listen to what we have to say too!
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