Posts Tagged 'social media'

Starbucks back on top?

Starbucks the coffee mogul, Starbucks the international meeting place, Starbucks the failure, now Starbucks the news distributor?

I can see the board room discussion that took place two years ago when Howard Schultz came out of retirement and re-appointed himself as CEO.

“We’re losing money and have closed hundreds of stores around the world,” Howard would have screamed across a long rectangular table.

“The internet seems to have taken off, why don’t we do something with that?” A pimply faced intern would have replied.

“I like it! To the keyboards!” Shultz would have said.

And that’s what probably happened. Since Shultz’s return, Starbucks has become the number one consumer brand on social media with over ten million friends on Facebook and nearly one million Twitter followers.

In fact, they decided to go a step further then the status update and on July 1st introduced free Wi-Fi in all of their US stores and a few in Canada.

This is not a new thing, free Wi-Fi is something people now expect from a café and most public places. The crumbled communal newspapers are being replaced by laptops and Apple gadgets.

However, it is the upcoming launch of the Starbucks Digital Network (SDN) that is changing the dynamic of the café.

Partnerships with iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and others are enabling Starbucks to offer otherwise exclusive content free to their in store customers.

Pay walls on news sites such as The Wall Street Journal can be side stepped upon purchase of a beverage and free downloadable music will be available through their deals with iTunes.

So their stores become downloading hubs. Not being able to find a place within the specialty coffee market has forced the company to give content away for free in order to get back on top.

As they filter information in their cafés to caffeinated consumers, they will no doubt re-invigorate their brand. Sitting in a café on a laptop for hours can equate to multiple purchases as one coffee does not fulfil hunger, only a muffin could tie you over til you’ve reaped all the benefits from the SDN.

Yet the perpetuators of the second wave of coffee may now have started the fourth. This network may very well turn the social part of a café into a point for connectivity, where we all stare at our screens, silently flicking through the web giving whole new meaning to the phrase ‘having a quiet one’.

Tweeting the Bean

What coffee do they drink on Network Ten’s show Neighbours? C’mon, it’s been on at 6:30 every evening for the past twenty-five years and they spend at least two scenes at the café in every episode.

It’s Genovese, and it is a clever way to market a product that mostly moves by word of mouth.

There is not a lot of advertising surrounding coffee. Apart from McDonald’s McCafé and the occasional love story intertwined with a latte-art heart on a Gloria Jeans commercial, coffee is such a quick grab that to go out of your way for one requires an intimate endorsement.

I go to places that are recommended by friends, people that have been there and experienced all that the beans and baristas have to offer. They are the best coffees, because my friends know me and they know what I like.

Yet, with the advent of cafés tweeting and hiring professional bloggers to sing sweet beans from the social media stage, where to get a good coffee has never been so easily at our fingertips.

St. Ali, one of Melbourne’s most successful cafés, hired reputable blogger Ed Charles a little while back to video blog, or vlog, all things newsworthy about their growing business. To supplement this, they regularly use the micro-blogging site, Twitter, to re-tweet clever 140 character promotions which usually turn viral.

Last week, they tweeted: “Roasters ready. Kitchen ready. Baristas ready. Floor ready. St ALi is ready for you. coffee subscription to whoever mentions this tweet 1st.”

I and eight other people re-tweeted the dare, who won? Absolutely no idea, but I have nearly 100 followers and if they ever look at what I have to say, they now have St. Ali in their vocabulary.

And so on for the eight others that thought they were up early enough to catch the 8:03 am tweet.

Other coffee affiliates that tweet good bean are Market Lane, Seven Seeds, Melbourne Coffee Review and Stumptown.

It’s so simple, follow a couple cafés, maybe a barista or two and the coffee community is on your screen whenever you log onto Twitter. It is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a thirty second spot or a place on a popular sitcom for that matter.

A step beyond that is to actually sell coffee on the networking site. Which is what a US based roasting company has recently engaged in.

Their Twitter alias is Atomic_Cafe and they are a micro-roaster in Massachusetts. Although they have a site for their company listed, it has been “under construction” for the past month.

Atomic_Cafe has been using Twitter to conduct business, I assume until their website is all sorted and functioning.

Recent Tweets include: “you bet bro let me know what you want for coffee your address and if you want it whole or ground, will ship it out Monday

And: “Just brought in a classic Guatemala Antigua (la flor) coming soon to an airpot near you…….”

The fact that the social media airwaves are perpetuating this word of mouth and movement offline is happening, is good enough proof for me that you can be successful even if you don’t have a stake in one of the most popular television shows in Australian history.

The people you follow on Twitter are usually the people you want to hear from. And like my friends I’ll take a coffee suggestion from any of them.


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