Social Media and Engagement: The Starbucks Example

Social media is all about engagement – engaging with people, consumers, brands, celebrities, you name it. As you know, some people tend to do it better than others. A recent research conducted by ENGAGEMENTdb attempts to measure the top 100 global brand’s value and engagement within social media channels. Before going any further, let’s review their top 10 list:

  1. Starbucks
  2. Dell
  3. eBay
  4. Google
  5. Microsoft
  6. Thomson Reuters
  7. Nike
  8. Amazon
  9. SAP
  10. Yahoo! and Intel (Tie)

I found it surprising to see Starbucks at the top of this list and were expecting instead to encounter the usual suspects in this study, i.e.Southwest airlines, Jetblue or Wholefoods. Turns out these brands were not researched since they haven’t made the global brand list. Back to Starbucks. They scored the number one spot, before technology-savvy brands such as Dell and Google. How did they do it? Alexandra Wheeler of Starbucks’ Digital Strategy department has an explanation: “We live in the physical world with thousands of natural touch points, so when we laid out the vision for our social strategy, it felt like home for the brand. It’s about the relationships we form with our customers, not marketing.” Here it is again: engagement. When approaching social media channels, it’s important to keep this in mind, before any marketing strategy you might want to conduct.

It’s been a difficult year for Starbucks financially speaking. The company has seen a decreased in revenue, which prompted it to undergo drastic changes – closing coffee shops, changing menus, etc. This also makes me wonder how this emblematic brand was able to score the top spot of the study. Patricio Robles over at Econsultancy is asking the following: “if you make the statement that “deep engagement with consumers through social media channels correlates to better financial performance” but the company that you rank as the most engaged has seen steady declines across many key business metrics (not just total revenue), how can you legitimately suggest cause and effect?”

This is a tough question that carries many underlying ones. Can social media efforts be financially measured? And if so, how can one interpret the correlation between financial gains and engagement? What if by trying to measure social media’s ROI we were just missing the point? The authors of this study came to this conclusion:

While much has been written questioning the value of social media, this landmark study has found that the most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social media engagement. The relationship is apparent and significant: socially engaged companies are in fact more financially successful.

What do you think? Do you see a correlation between social media efforts and direct ROI?

Bernie Borges’ Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book

We are very excited to bring to you Bernie Borges’ new book: Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing. Bernie’s book aims to give a macro view of social media marketing with a focus on “what it is” and “how” small and medium size businesses (SMB) can develop a strategy, implement it and measure results.

Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing covers these topics:

  • Marketing 2.0
  • What is Web 2.0 and Social Media?
  • Think Like a Publisher: Content Marketing
  • The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media Marketing
  • Measuring Results in Social Media Marketing
  • Risks in Social Media Marketing
  • Benefits of Social Media Marketing
  • Case Studies – SMBs Succeding with Social Media

We have invited Bernie Borges, the author of Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing to discuss his book. Bernie Borges is the Chief Find Officer of Find and Convert, an Inbound Marketing agency serving clients nationwide. Find and Convert helps companies get found on the web and build profitable relationships through search marketing and social media marketing strategies. Bernie is a podcaster, blogger and frequent speaker on social media trends in business. Bernie is a native of New York, N.Y, and resides in Palm Harbor, Florida with family.

Bernie Borges

Blog Find and Convert Twitter BernieBay

Buyers learn to trust the sellers who engage in authentic relationships.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Bernie, it is a great pleasure to discuss your Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. Tell us about what Find and Convert does?
Bernie Borges: Find and Convert is an inbound marketing agency. We create winning marketing strategies on the web for our clients through search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media, content marketing and web analytics. Our clients are mostly SMBs marketing on a national and some international scale. We are meticulous about measuring results that matter for our clients.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What prompted you to embark on writing Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book?
Bernie Borges: I started Find and Convert in 2002. In 2006 I started to hear about “Web 2.0.” As I got involved in social networking I began to recognize the opportunities for business. But, I observed that most SMBs are very conservative in their thinking. Most clients and audiences I spoke to had interest in learning about social media but were not acting on it. I wrote this book to communicate that marketing on the social web is a mindset. Business owners and executive must first understand the mindset before they embrace the tactics comprised of blogs, social networks, Twitter, video, photos, etc. The mindset must come before the tactics.

Social Influence Marketing Report by Razorfish

Razorfish has recently released their annual Social Influence Marketing Report that surveys and analyzes how brands evolve within the social sphere. These reports are proving to be very useful and somehow a bit of a reality check. Indeed, amidst all the rave about how great and unavoidable social media is for brands and companies, we tend to forget to remain critical and focused in our online marketing efforts. Here are some excerpts we feel are quite relevant:

1- People trust offline channels the most when making purchase decisions

This might come as a surprise to some. According to Razorfish’s numbers, 36% of consumers tend to trust TV advertisement over expert online reviews (34%) or social network advertisement (21%.) Even more surprisingly, online friends account for even less influence (9%) – we’re a far stretch from the 66% of trust attributed to offline friends.

2- People tend to trust offline advertising mediums over online ones

Respondents seem to think brands look more authentic on TV and print than on radio, online banners, blogs and social networks. Also, respondents showed a high level of indifference to online marketing.

What does this means to brands and businesses? First, let’s not forget what social media really is about: tools that help people connect. Second, most brands are not understanding and/or using social media tools in an efficient way. As Razorfish points out, they should “focus on value exchanges. The most influence takes place around products and services, and not in terms of affiliations with a particular brand.” Third, brands need to increase their credibility on social platforms. It is not just a matter of borrowing influencers’ trust and people’s relationships but instead to develop your own language to talk to your consumers.

You can get your own copy of the report right here.

What has been your experience with social media marketing so far? Have you been able to develop your brand’s trustworthiness on these channels? Let us know what your experience has been so far.

Free… for Free by Chris Anderson

The free economy that has been expanding ever since our lives got digital is generating a lot of discussions these days. You’ve heard about the newspapers’ financial troubles associated to the free distribution of their content, the music and film industries’ fight against piracy or Radiohead giving their creations away to whoever wants to pay attention. Some swear that our economies will be transformed for the best by all that is free, others say it will be our demise! Truth is, information is scattered here and there and is mostly based on opinions, not facts. So is Free a good or bad thing for us?

Chris Anderson has recently released a book about the free economy that I had the pleasure to read… for free. Indeed, his book was published on good ol’ traditional paper, but also digitally on Scribd(with more free distribution channels to come). Free brings a lot of food to the table – it starts off with a historical overview of the free economy, from Jell-O to Gillette up to Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, then moves on to full course where it dissects nicely different models of the free economy (freemiums, freebies, piracy, etc.) as well as its specific effects on human psychology. The book is definitely an advocator of “free”, even though the author tries to give its negative side some coverage as well. Let’s say the book tends to bend towards Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do politics – How can you compete against free? Instead of trying to fight it, embrace it. Chris Anderson states his point loud and clear, backed up with great amount of facts, case studies and examples. Once you’re done reading, it is hard not to consider having a slice of that cake integrated to your business model. But can this be sustained by any types of businesses? Also, for all these companies that succeed with their “free” model, how many just don’t cut it? Monetizing the free economy is still a challenge for many online and offline businesses, especially since ad spending and revenues keep going down. Any newspaper representative will tell you how much of a challenge it is.

All in all, Free makes for a great poster child of the free economy and is packed with examples, facts and statistics that supports this business model. Read it for inspiration and see if this can be applied to your business or project, but bear in mind that “free” still asks for creative monetization models. But eh, why don’t you check it out yourself and see if Free applies to you… and it won’t cost you a dime!

You can read Free for free on Scribd.