Image Alt

Brand Focus: The Starbucks Recipe for Social Media Success

Brand Focus: The Starbucks Recipe for Social Media Success

Since 1971, Starbucks has been conquering the world of coffee. Although the franchise didn’t hit the national market until the mid-1980s, former CEO Howard Schultz shaped Starbucks into the familiar brand we know today: an international coffee company that focuses on community, environmental sustainability, and ethical sourcing.  

But how exactly did Starbucks evolve from a standalone coffeeshop in Seattle to the 35th most valuable brand in the world, according to Forbes? How did this small local business become a trendsetter in the wider food and beverage industry? And what can other companies learn from this bold caffeine empire? Read on to find out.  

Step #1: Cross-promote, but don’t cross-post.

This tip is practically the first commandment of social media. To put it bluntly, it’s a mistake not to cross-promote on your social platforms. Even large enterprises like Starbucks push the same content across multiple channels. That said, you should avoid crossposting, or simply copying and pasting the same link and caption to every platform. The key is to customize your post for each network, giving customers a reason to follow your brand on a variety of sites.   

Step #2: Find your voice.

This tip piggybacks off our first point, but it’s important ground to cover.

In addition to diversifying their posts across different platforms, Starbucks tailors its social voice and messaging to reach specific audiences.

Starbuck’s Facebook page, for example, is devoted to community voices and stories.

Starbuck’s Twitter feed, however, focuses more on branding efforts and building loyalty through interaction with customers.  

Starbucks’ Instagram page is all about aesthetically pleasing pictures that promote their product.    

And lastly, Starbucks’ Pinterest boards discreetly promote their product with DIYs, recipes, seasonal inspiration, and lifestyle photography.  

Understanding each social network‘s underlying purpose is the key to increasing social engagement and establishing a compelling online presence.

Step #3: Incorporate video.  

From tightly edited “how to” tutorials to animated shorts to inspiring original miniseries that encourage positive change through community-building, Starbucks’ YouTube channel delivers an unexpected, versatile mix of branded content. It also features compelling “behind the scenes” videos that show glimpses of the company and its employees.

As Starbucks so elegantly demonstrates, video is an incredible tool for spotlighting your brand culture and point of view. And if subscribers find that point of view compelling, they’ll come back to your channel again and again.

Step #4: Build brand loyalty.

Starbucks is the master of building customer loyalty, and they have the devoted cult following to prove it. Need we mention their famous frappuccino has its own verified profile on Twitter with a whopping 206K followers? 


But the real secret to building loyalty is giving generously. When your brand gives, your customers know you appreciate them. Rewarding your customers financially and socially fosters emotional, mutually beneficial relationships.

In an interview with Forbes, Chris Luo, vice president of marketing at loyalty technology company FiveStars, reflected on the success of the Starbucks reward system. “Starbucks had a very strong loyalty program that rewarded customers who prepaid for their visits,” Luo explained. “They leveraged two very strong loyalty program levers – prepayment and points per visit. We’ve seen that prepayment can increase return visits by up to 50 percent.” How’s that for customer satisfaction?

By carefully curating its company persona and online presence, Starbucks has cemented its status as a global industry thought leader. Serving up a delicious range of educational, promotional, and lifestyle content, this iconic brand is engaging the mind, the heart, and the senses all at once. Pumpkin spice latte, anyone?