Advertising research and consulting firm, PhaseOne, recently released a proprietary study on social engagement that ranked Starbucks as the most socially engaged company. The study looked at 75 brands across six verticals: Automotive, Dining, Food/Beverage, Retail, Services and Technology and assessed them based on earned media (social media engagement) across paid (i.e. TV ads) and owned media. (i.e. Facebook brand page).
PhaseOne researchers discovered that the most socially engaged brands provide a social benefit. Users engage with the brand because they hope that their connection with the brand
enhances other’s perceptions of them. The report indicates that by associating with the brand, users are making a “Me Statement” to express their “Idealized Self” which is how they want the public to perceive of them as opposed to their “Private Self” who they’d rather keep to themselves.
Some pretty fluffy stuff, I know, so I had to check this out for myself. However, watching TV to catch a Starbucks TV ad sounded like searching for a needle in a haystack, so instead, I checked out Starbucks’ owned media. Starbucks has nearly 30 million likes on their timeline Facebook page and everything they put up seems to get at least 500 individual comments (x 130 average Facebook friends per user = reach of 65,000). Their Twitter feed which reaches 2.3 million followers is brimming with responses to Tweets from other users.
What’s their secret sauce? Starbucks acts like more like a person than a brand. It tells you not to worry your mom by talking on the phone while driving—sneaking a message in about its newest drive-thru. Additionally, it responds to customers using colloquial language and emoticons
—more of a cool friend than a customer service rep. From all the research I’ve looked at, responding is the strongest action a company can take to retaining a customer and making him feel special.