Social Media Marketing: How Starbucks grew to be a trendsetter

There might be many coffee shops selling great coffee. But Starbucks is perhaps the first place most people think of when they need their morning coffee. And with Starbucks, it has always been about delivering a great experience. 

Starbucks has grown to become one of the most popular brands on social media. And the brand’s strategies are a great source of inspiration for any brand looking to revamp its social media marketing. Let’s see what Starbucks does differently.

Starbucks And Marketing

As you open the door at a Starbucks outlet, the warmth of the ambiance instantly melts your morning stress away. The magical aroma of fresh ground coffee reels you back to reality. Baristas welcome you with a smile and have your coffee promptly delivered just the way you like it, in a cup that has your name on it. 

Every little detail in the Starbucks experience has been crafted to perfection. And that’s what makes this brand a market leader. 

Starbucks has managed to make every customer feel at home not just in its outlets but also on social media. Its friendly demeanor on social media and the timely responses to customer comments and a whole lot of other things have made the brand successful even on social media. 

11 million followers on Twitter, 17.7 million on Instagram, and 350K subscribers on YouTube! It’s not just about the numbers it is about how interactive the brand is on social media. It is about its active customer engagement strategies and creative campaigns. And that’s exactly what brands should aim for if they need to stay a step ahead in social media marketing. 

So, let’s delve into the refreshing social media marketing strategies of Starbucks to see how you can use these ideas for your brand. 

But before that, how did a small coffee store in Seattle grow to become the largest coffee chain in the world? Let’s find out. 

A Peek Into the History

Source: Starbucks

In Pike Place Market, Seattle, a small coffee store was opened in 1971. As the store gained popularity for its fresh ground coffee a few more stores were opened. 

In the 1980s, Howard Schultz who bought these stores turned them into coffee shops where people could hang out with friends. His inspiration was from his visit to Italy where he fell in love with the concept of cozy coffee shops as socialization hubs. The rest, as we know, is history!

Half a century old, this coffee chain still casts a similar spell on its customers as it did decades ago. Ethically sourced coffee, the brand’s unwavering support for local farmers, and the Starbucks siren are among the many things that have remained unchanged over the years. And the brand has always designed its marketing strategies in a way that keeps reminding customers of these unique little details about the brand. 

Social Media Marketing Ideas From Starbucks 

Talking about Starbucks, here’s what Howard Schultz has to say: “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.” 

As a brand that has always focused on the people – the employees behind the brand and the customers, Starbucks has managed to keep its interactions warm and friendly everywhere. At the outlets as well as on social media. 

That said, if you look at the posts and campaigns of Starbucks on social media, you will notice a few things:

  • The brand keeps up with the social media trends that its customers love 
  • It regularly shares customer content and makes customers feel acknowledged
  • Starbucks uses a lot of visuals to create posts

So, if you are looking for ways to elevate your social media strategy, here are some ideas based on Starbucks’ social media posts. 

1. Create relatable posts

Starbucks’ Twitter feed is one of the liveliest places to be. You will see that it has a good mix of image-based, video-based, and text Tweets to keep its followers engaged. 

One other notable thing is that most of the Tweets from Starbucks are relatable. These posts help the brand easily strike a conversation with their customers, their followers on social media. Take the above Tweet for example – posts like these are sure to get customers talking. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Understand your customers by analyzing the kind of posts they interact with the most. After this, ensure that the visuals and the copy in your posts are aligned with your customer personas. Always remember that creating relatable content is the way to win your customers’ hearts. 

2. Keep it expressive 

It is hard to scroll past a post like this one filled with fun emojis. You will find a lot of similar posts on Starbucks’ Twitter feed. The brand always keeps it playful and vibrant on its social media pages and this Tweet is just an example. 

Marketing Takeaway:

When you want to add visuals but do not have an image planned for the day, make the most of emojis. Emojis are emotive and colorful enough to grab attention. 

Or better yet, sign up for a graphic design subscription, like Kimp Graphics so that you always have new visuals for your social media feeds. 

3. Use videos to your advantage 

Each video that Starbucks posts, has something unique and catchy like the above Instagram video, for example. In this video, the reverse loop makes you stop and see what the video is about. And then the video clearly conveys that the post is about an apple-based beverage and that these apples are freshly sourced. For this, all it takes is a creatively edited video! 

Marketing Takeaway:

Videos are engaging and easy to consume. Use videos to convey your message in the form of an interactive story. This is one way to keep your audience interested in your content. If you are wondering how to use videos more, remember that even a simple video can be given a creative flair with professional video editing services.  

Did you know that video editing services are part of your Kimp Video subscription

4. Creative use of motion graphics

Besides promotional videos, Starbucks regularly uses eye-grabbing motion graphics like cinemagraphs and animated static designs. These are refreshing deviations from stationary images and conventional video formats. But still, there is a subtle activity that grabs attention making users stop and take notice. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Experiment with different types of visual content to give your social media pages a unique touch. 85% of videos on Facebook are watched muted. To keep the content interactive even without sound, such subtle animations are highly effective. 

Kimp Tip: Add simple animations to create looping videos that can be converted to GIFs. This way, you have fast-loading visuals that can be repurposed to make your email newsletters more engaging too. 

Curious about exploring the many formats of motion graphics for your brand? Sign up for a Kimp Video subscription today. 

5. Show the face behind the idea 

The people-focused business model of Starbucks is something that has helped it grow tremendously. You will see the brand regularly include barista stories or even proudly talk about its baristas’ achievements on its social media pages. 

The above post on Instagram showcases how the brand lets its employees proactively come up with ideas for betterment. And how these ideas are actually valued and implemented. Stories like these are the ones that customers love to hear and interact with. 

Marketing Takeaway:

65% of consumers prefer brands that treat employees well. So, include employee stories on social media. Show your customers how much you value your employees. Social media is the best place to talk about your strong company culture. 

6. Accurately optimize for the platform 

The above image is a LinkedIn ad by Starbucks. Compare the professional tone and the dapper design the brand incorporates for LinkedIn with the more friendly and fun themes it uses across the rest of its social media. On LinkedIn, it is about reaching professionals and even corporate clients. So, the theme of the ad and the concepts it integrates are kept on point. 

Marketing Takeaway: 

When you know to whom you are selling the idea, you can be more persuasive. It is alright to repurpose a few of your ads across social media platforms. But make sure that you have some very specific ones created for each social media channel being mindful of the type of audience you interact with on that particular channel. 

Kimp Tip: Even if you have to create different ads for different social media channels, you can try to maintain visual consistency by sticking with your color schemes and other visual elements. 

Struggling to get your ads to consistently resonate with your brand’s personality? Choose a Kimp Graphics subscription and have all your social media ads designed by a dedicated design team. 

7. Show it in action 

The above Facebook ad, like most other Starbucks ads, captures the real-life scenarios where you might yearn for a coffee. Seeing the Starbucks cups in an office coffee break setup will remind you to place a Starbucks order during your next coffee break. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Use images and videos to depict the relevance of your product in a particular situation. By simulating the experience you end up reminding your customers when and why they need your products. 

8. Emotions speak louder than words 
Source: Facebook

Starbucks has a reputation for actively sharing customer stories on social media. Seeing these dreamy customer images and all the positivity in them makes you realize that love brews here, not just coffee. And such a positive image for the brand motivates even people who have never dined at a Starbucks to actually visit one nearby. 

Marketing Takeaway:

If you want to add more value to your social media marketing efforts, try to focus on the sentimental value of your brand. Capture the emotions of your customers both while interacting with your brand and later. Because when you make connections at an emotional level you are boosting customer loyalty. 

9. Consistency across content types 
Source: Instagram

One noticeable trait of Starbucks’ social media strategy is that it gives due importance to ephemeral content like Stories on Instagram. The brand makes the most of this space to boost its engagement rate. 

Starbucks incorporates its signature color schemes and friendly tone even in the content it posts on Stories. On the whole, you will notice a striking visual consistency between content appearing in the regular posts and on Stories. 

Marketing Takeaway: 

Maintaining design consistency across your content types is as important as creating a social media aesthetic for your brand. Ephemeral content like Story helps you constantly stay in touch with your customers or even provide quick updates on your brand. So, do not underestimate it. 

10. Setting the mood

Starbucks never fails to amaze when it comes to creating themes to set the mood for its posts. For example, it uses red cups for Christmas cheer, muffins in winter-themed posts, pumpkins, and autumn leaves in fall-themed posts, With such simple and relatable ideas the brand simplifies conversations on social media. 

Marketing Takeaway: 

Good marketing makes customers fall in love with your product and virtually experience the mood your product creates. Use relevant themes and appropriate photo props or background settings to set a strong mood for your social media posts. 

11. Respond to your customers 
Source: Facebook

Starbucks is one of the few brands that make it a point to respond to most of the comments from its followers. This is also one of the reasons why you will notice a good engagement rate on Starbucks’ social media posts. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Social media conversations for brands should be two-way communication. And this means that posting content and leaving it out there is not enough. To support this, you should respond to customer queries or feedback. With this you make them feel acknowledged. And this will also be a way to encourage them to interact more with your posts. 

12. Give shoutouts

Customers love sharing their favorite memories and beverages at Starbucks. And Starbucks regularly shares customer content on its page as well. By giving shoutouts to its customers it motivates people to share more and thus spread the word. 

Marketing Takeaway:

User-generated content can be a great promotional tool that brings new leads and strengthens the loyalty of existing customers. So, encourage customers to share their experience with your products and also give them a shoutout when they tag your social media page. 

13. Show that you care
Source: LinkedIn

One of the biggest drivers of Starbucks’ growth has been its strong set of ideals and how religiously the brand adheres to them. Its ethical sourcing methods and contributions to the coffee community have set it apart in the competition. The Starbucks Foundation provides grants, disaster response, and so much more. 

The brand uses its social media channels to talk about these activities. This helps the brand garner support for its initiatives. And this also has a strong positive influence on its brand image. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Customers are 4-6 times more likely to make purchases and stay loyal to a brand that is purpose-driven. Use social media as a channel to let customers know that you care for the community. And that your brand goes beyond selling products. Use social media to establish your brand’s ethical values. 

14. Establish your brand’s values 

Starbucks purchased a coffee farm in the year 2013 and named it Hacienda Alsacia. And through this farm, the brand continuously works on sustainable methods to improve coffee cultivation. There is also a dedicated Instagram page for the farm where users can stay up-to-date with what’s happening at the farm or learn from other users about what the farm tour offers. 

The farm serves two purposes. One is to support the coffee supply to the Starbucks outlet. The second main purpose is that the farm backs up the brand’s research. And its research is mainly on crop varieties that are resilient to diseases and rough weather conditions.

Besides research, the brand also distributes these seeds to farmers around the world to keep the coffee plantations around the world up and running. Customers who hear about all this through social media naturally fall in love with the brand, a little more. 

Marketing Takeaway:

Good social media marketing goes beyond advertising. It is about actually having meaningful conversations with your customers and telling them your brand story. Experiential strategies like the ones adopted by Starbucks strengthen the brand’s emotional ties with its customers. 

15. Talk about burning issues

Starbucks finds new ways to incorporate a more sustainable approach into its operations. And it also talks about them actively on social media. This way, the brand educates and raises awareness about moving towards such eco-friendly practices. These are healthy discussions that customers love to engage in and share with their friends. So, it works in favor of the brand. 

Marketing Takeaway: 

Customers love doing business with responsible brands. So, using social media to talk about your green initiatives can be a great way to shape your brand image. In the end, this increases customer loyalty and has an overall positive effect on customer relationships as well. 

Breathe New Life Into Your Social Media Marketing Strategy With Graphic Designs From Kimp 

Starbucks incorporates plenty of videos, images, illustrations, and animations on all of its social media pages. This is what makes Starbucks’ social media pages colorful and hard to ignore. If you want to enhance your social media strategies too, you will need visuals. Lots of them. The easiest way to lift the burden of designing social media posts off your shoulders will be to sign up for an unlimited graphic design service like Kimp Graphics. 

Start your free trial today and find out how to transform your brand’s social media presence.