Social media research project: Starbucks and social media use

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Starbucks Corporation is an American coffee company with a chain of coffee restaurants across the world. It is enlisted in the New York Stock market and has shown a steady performs in the financial market. Starbucks offer special coffee to coffee clients. Starbucks started operating in Seattle, Washington in 1971 and has been serving coffee to many customers who have maintained a long standing relationship with Starbucks (Brennan & Schafer, 2012). Starbucks uses the highest quality of Arabica coffee to make all its espresso drinks. Quality forms the base of its products, which is coffee drinks. Today, Starbucks boasts of over 23,768 chains all over the world and continue to be one of the high ranking leaders in the beverage industry. Social media has played an instrumental role in the success of Starbucks.

Social media has increasingly become the tool of choice for Starbucks when it comes to marketing their products. Starbucks has consistently relied on social media to inform their clients of what they are up to such as promotions, new products, and changes in prices, community service and general marketing of new chains. Starbucks has a team of social media employees that work round the clock to inform and interact with Starbucks clients (Brennan & Schafer, 2012). Starbucks Corporation continues to explore social media as a significant strategy for its overall growth.

Literature Review

Social media is a pro computer and smartphone oriented technologies, which speed up a transfer of data and sharing information, concerns, and away to interact with the society in many ways. However, for companies, social media has become a marketing tool and away to communicate with customers and influence their choice of product (Holland, 2016). Social media represents the new generation of marketing, and that is evidenced by the high number of organizations on social media, which include: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube among others. Social media has also been seen by many as the new industry where everything is sold and bought, and it is projected that shortly, most products will be sold on social media and not in stores (Minazzi, 2014).

21st has revolutionized how we communicate and has completely transformed communication platforms (Minazzi, 2014). Many companies used to rely on the commercial advertisement on television, telephone calls, billboards and radio to advertise and inform their clients of new products. Many companies, for example, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Red bull today see social media as a strategic platform to engage customers and inform them about different activities that the companies are working on to improve services (Holland, 2016). Consequently, social media has also allowed customers to air their grievances and seek answers from the companies. Social media enables organizations to recommend products to clients, and create product awareness. It has helped many organizations evaluate their products and launch only products, which are liked by the consumers.

Social media is the new market and a company that realizes that sooner can target customers and expands reach to customers; get new and diverse clients, and buyers can also contact such organizations if they use social media (Minazzi, 2014). Many people today own phones, which mean that most of the people who own phones are on social media hence most clients are on social media (Holland, 2016).Interactive sessions on social media with its customers can create loyalty as clients feel that they are part of the organization because their views on the product offered matter.

Organizations like Amazon has shown that the cost of selling products online is much cheaper compared to having a shop (Minazzi, 2014). The concept of liking and sharing the ideas or product information online has proved to be effective. Starbucks admits to getting orders from clients on the recommendation from friends who shared the new espresso posted online. The sharing of information about a product on social media is known as social currency (Minazzi, 2014). Consumer sentiment towards marketing (CSM) is a research done to establish how consumers feel towards marketing on social media. One general outcome was that the consumers must be open to technology (Trefzger & Dünfelder, 2016).

Understanding the platform in social media that most users prefer the first step towards achieving a successful social media campaign (Blair, 2017). Evaluating technology readiness of customers is important to establish if the mode chosen is useful. Social media has grown from a place where family, friends, and colleagues check on each other into a place where consumers get to learn about the company’s products, new products and whether their favorite companies care about their needs. Consumers using social media to shop and this has led to powerful search engines, and applications tailor made for users to help buy secure, faster and safer (Trefzger & Dünfelder, 2016).

These technologies have expanded the scope of reach to clients for organizations seeking to expand its customers’ base. Shopper marketing strategy has emerged as the preferred guide for organizations on social media. Shopper marketing refers to planning and execution of marketing activities that influence a customer before, after and possible repurchase of a product. Shopper marketing is both short and long term strategy aimed at creating a large sales volume through offers, price drops and creating more awareness of the product.

Studies show a company that engages their clients online creates a sense of entitlement of the product by customers (Holland, 2016). Customers will tell what they like and they think should be altered. These companies understand what clients want. What would customers prefer to have in the future? Social media through blogging has also become the judge on many products. Blogging is writing about a product, book, fashion, food among others with the intention of rating the product. Companies use to bloggers to recommend their products to their followers (people who subscribe to their blogging channels).

Case Study

Why does Starbucks heavily rely on social media?

Starbucks heavily rely on social media to promote Starbucks product. The constant rise in the youth and with the old coffee lovers aging away; the young people who are the majority users of social media are the target to get sales. For Starbucks, social media is an avenue to showcase its quality espressos and improvements. Without social media in the modern world, Starbucks will largely depend on a walk in customers asking the question with little idea about their coffee and would opt to check the menu (Funk, 2012). According to Lewis and Nichols (2016), social media is a leading marketing tool today. Starbucks has online menu and guides for consumers who want to know what they sell.

Through social media, Starbucks received complaints about the small sizes of the ounce: 8 ounces, 12 ounces, 16 ounces and 20 ounces of coffee. Clients wanted something bigger. Starbucks is about to launch 31 ounces taller Trenta (largest coffee cup) for its customers. The launching of a Trenta was mostly initiated by clients on social media who wanted to order one Trenta but a large one without the difficulty of holding several ounces of coffee in cups. The consumer drive on social media gave Starbuck the insights as to what the customers wanted, and the launching of the 31 ounces of Starbuck coffee would not only give it a competitive advantage over its competitors but also help it retain and attract customers.

To show how bad social media is important to Starbucks, various analysts have based the argument on its followers on social media. Starbucks by April 7, 2017, had the following fans: 11.9 million on Twitter, 4.9 million on Google+, and13.7 million on Google+. The millions of followers on social media show the impact Starbuck can have on their sales and social currency. From time to time, Starbucks runs promotions to reward clients and increase sales. Social media is the avenue to reach customers across the globe. Advertising on television and billboards in many countries is costly; hence Starbucks heavily rely on social media to reach the global market.

Why do Starbucks choose to use social media?

One of the reasons why Starbucks selected social media as a marketing tool is because of the diverse customers it could reach. Social media has millions of users and presents a broad market. Consequently, the cost associated with using social media is very cheap and requires minimal resources (Trefzger & Dünfelder, 2016). A commercial advertisement on TV and billboards cost a lot of money, and there is no one on one customer interaction to engage the success of such marketing strategies. The time spent to articulate ideas to clients is also shortened.

Secondly, Starbucks chose social media to achieve effective customer service. Most of the clients today will take their complaints to social media (Funk, 2012). Starbucks uses social media to address the issues raised by customers who would otherwise not buy from them again. Social media also enables Starbucks to market its product and increase sales. When you are the company that has millions of followers, the most concern is to turn those millions into sales (Blair, 2017). A well-crafted feedback is significant is establishing quality customer service and appreciating customers.

Starbucks educates their clients on social media about recipes and how to make many espressos. It is easy to put the videos online or clients to view as opposed to DVDs.

Customer relationship is the key Significant to Starbucks, and that is why, on their social media pages, they tell clients about the tea or coffee they are taking. Informing consumers about what they eat not only make clients aware but also feel appreciated; hence customers stay loyal to Starbucks. The buyer service strategy is effective on social media and is one of the reasons why Starbucks selected social media. For example, beautiful wall paper photos on their Pinterest account, which customers can save, shows how effective they have mastered the use social media.

The major social media sites that Starbucks use

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ are the major social media platforms, which Starbucks use to interact with millions of its clients. These sites have the majority of customers who engage the company. The majority of followers are on Instagram, which is closely followed by twitter at 11.9 million. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram play a significant role in their marketing strategy (Friedrichsen & Mühl-Benninghaus, 2012). The sites are accessible any people around the use them hence Starbucks understand the sales they can make by using such social media platform (Blair, 2017). It is essential to note that Starbucks has many followers and subscribers on other platforms that are equally enthusiastic about Starbucks products (Dooley, 2016). Those sites are Pinterest with 302,004 thousand followers and YouTube with 131,100 thousand customers by April 7, 2017.

Starbucks success story is envied by many organizations that wish they had such success with social media. Starbucks has a large volume of sales and products that tens of millions of its clients talk about on social media every day. Starbucks has earned the trust and loyalty of its customers through social media. Consumers are consistently engaging Starbucks demanding new products and new chains. They have made consumers believe that Starbucks products are lifestyle products and must be consumed.

The success story of Starbucks

Starbucks through social media is now a renowned product, and many people write. The more many articles and reviews it gets, the more the Starbucks name spreads across the world. When your product is the topic on social media every day, but for good reasons you know you are on the path to more success. Starbucks has used the popularity to expand to emerging markets or areas where consumers have been requesting Starbucks’ shops. Most of these new chains had proven to be a more successful story than Starbucks estimated when they were opening the strings.


Engage quite often with customers. Posting several feeds throughout the day is a good way to keep the clients happy and show of concern (Mahoney & Tang, 2017). It is essential that Starbuck continues to explore unique strategies on social media to influence their sales and expand further. Starbucks’ Pinterest still has fewer followers compared to Twitter and Google+. Therefore, it must continue to not only provide beautiful photos on its account but also interact more with clients. More interaction online with customers often informs them and keeps them interested in your products, which means that Starbuck can increase sales from followers on Pinterest.

Organize seminars on coffee education. Starbucks must share the enthusiasm of coffee with customers and the community; by educating the customers on a quality coffee bean, an importance of coffee, and coffee product. It’s a way of incorporating coffee lovers and consumers to have knowledge on what they are consuming (Dooley, 2016). It is also the way for Starbucks to share the coffee experience, an obligation of giving back to the society.

Have competent employees who care about quality and are polite to customers. Starbucks employs thousands of employees and should carefully evaluate every employee to ensure that only the best serve the customers. Employees who have the bad attitude towards clients should be facing off. When you have employees who do not care about customers, definitely they will not care about the quality of the coffee they sell and may compromise the Starbucks’ quality.

Train new chain baristas. New chains often employ baristas with no or less knowledge on Starbucks history. It is common to walk into a new chain and find employees who are clueless about your order. The recipes are sometimes not mastered, and you feel a different type of order compared to orders from traditional chains (Hall & Peszko, 2016). Proper training for new baristas ensures the quality of beverages offered. Training also equips the employees with traditions of Starbucks, which have propelled Starbucks to where it is today. Employees must preserve the Starbucks traditions.

Exceed the expectation of the customers. Starbuck must invent or improve their customer service level as not to custom clients with the usual follow ups and emailing. With time, clients get bored of routine and would demand change (Dooley, 2016). Creativity in dealing with its customers is the way to go for Starbucks. Creative response and customer service are necessary if Starbucks is to maintain the market share they currently enjoy.

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  1. Blair, M. K. (2017). Using digital and social media platforms for social marketing. Oxford: Oxford Medicine Online.
  2. Brennan, B., & Schafer, L. (eds) (2012). Starbucks: It’s the Experience!, in Branded!: How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi: 10.1002/9781119200567.ch4
  3. Dooley, A. C. (2016). More Than Just Marketing: Social Media As An Exhibit Development Tool. Indianapolis: The Geological Society of America.
  4. Friedrichsen, M., & Mühl-Benninghaus, W. (2012). “The Social Media Management Chain, How Social Media Influences Traditional Media.” Handbook of Social Media Management, Berlin: Springer.
  5. Funk, T. (2012). “Advanced Social Media Campaigns.” Advanced Social Media Marketing, pp. 173-206. New York: Apress.
  6. Holland, H. (2016). 8 Social Media-Marketing. Retrieved July 27, 2017 from
  7. Lewis, B. K., & Nichols, C. (2016). Social media and strategic communication: A Three-Year Study of Attitudes and Perceptions about Social Media among College Students. Retrieved from
  8. Mahoney, L. M., & Tang, T. (2017). Strategic social media: From marketing to social change. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.
  9. Minazzi, R. (2014). “Mobile Social Media Marketing in Tourism.” Social Media Marketing in Tourism and Hospitality. Berlin: Springer.
  10. Peszko, K., & Hall, H. (2016). Social media as a relationship marketing tool of a modern university. Marketing I Zarządzanie, 5(46), 41-56.
  11. Trefzger, T. F., & Dünfelder, D. (2016). Unleash Your Brand! Using Social Media as a Marketing Tool in Academia. Social Computing and Social Media Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 9742, 449-460.
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