Starbucks has been part of our lives since 1998, when they started appearing on our high streets, serving their own coffee and hot drink blends which we’ve all come to love. Whether you’re a fan of the frappuccino, or a connoisseur of the cinnamon roll, Starbucks has something to help you get through the day. It’s hardly a surprise that their UK Twitter feed has more followers than the population of Glasgow!
Since they joined Twitter in 2011, Starbucks’ feed has been particularly media heavy, with very aspirational photos. Photographs are highly stylised, and very worthy of Instagram. Bright colours, happy people and prominent product placement feature heavily in their images.
— Starbucks UK (@StarbucksUK) July 7, 2016
You’ll frequently see photos with iPods, breakfasts in bed, and high end magazines used as props for the Starbucks prohigh-end’s very much intended to convince the consumer that, as a Starbucks customer, this is the kind of lifestyle they could achieve.
One thing which is lacking from Starbucks’ feed is humour. Unlike some of their competitors, such as Costa Coffee which regularly features cartoons, GIFs and silly photos, Starbucks focuses on factual, serious news and promoting its products. While they will post the occasional smile inducing post, it’s never blatantly silly or stupid. It’s always well-considered and fits in well with their image of class and seriousness.
An area where Starbucks excels is customer involvement. Customers are actively encouraged to share their @StarbucksUK tweets, which Starbucks retweets for its followers. Customer photos featuring family members with Starbucks products, follower reviews, and silly photos, which are very different to the sort of media which Starbucks post themselves, but are clearly intended to make the follower feel like part of the Starbucks family. Starbucks never comments on these photos – it just retweets them.
Rather than using polls, Starbucks cleverly runs competitions which require customers to hashtag an answer to a question to enter, encouraging their followers to get the word out for them. Recently, they asked followers to help them decide the flavour of their latest frappuccino, using a hashtag of #teamcookiedough, #teamcinnamonswirl or #teamcupcake to provide their answer.
Occasionally, Starbucks will use its Twitter feed to publicise a special offer, although this does not seem to happen as frequently as it does with other retail companies. In May 2016, they tweeted an offer of half price frappuccinos between 3-5pm, using the hashtag #frappuccinohappyhour to get the word out. There was a big build up to this event, with heavy usage of the hashtag in the run up to the big day.
Frequently, Starbucks will link up with other companies. Sometimes this is altruistic and in aid of a charity, and sometimes it’s a mutually beneficial act. In March 2016, Starbucks heavily promoted its involvement in the apprenticeship scheme, and how it has benefitted them as a company. When it sent some of its staff over to Rwanda to see how its farmers produced coffee, it made a point of letting its customers know that it kept its staff in touch with production from the ground up.
Commercially, it promoted an offer with cosmetics manufacturer Benefit, where customers who received a Benefit branded sleeve on their Starbucks cup were entitled to a free second drink to share with a friend, while posting tweets about Benefit’s makeup on the Starbucks website.
The Starbucks UK feed is a great example of modern day Twitter usage. They make good use of hashtags, promotional offers and customer interaction, and the images they post portray the company as desirable, high class and ambitious. With 849 shops doing business in 2015, and even more planned for 2016, this is a company with its finger on the pulse of coffee drinking in the UK.