Starbucks’ Secret Sauce to Becoming the Most Socially Engaged Company

Starbucks Facebook Page 4-2-2012

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.

Dollar Shave Club, More Disruptive Than You Think

Dollar Shave Club, a start up that provides customers with a monthly subscription service to razors, shook up the shaving world on March 5th, 2012 when it declared via YouTube video that it was selling razors for $1/month.

Gillette was not the only one watching in amazement as comedic co-founder, Michael Dubin parodied his way through the spot–so were advertisers and marketers. For $4,5oo, Dubin and Mark Levine were able to gather millions of views on YouTube. They now have over 5,000 subscribers to this monthly service.

There are three tiers to the Dollar Shave Club subscription services based on razor quality. The first level, “The Humble Twin” is the one Dubin talks about in his video. At $1/month, the subscription does make it less expensive for consumers who are used to Gillette razors. However, their other levels “The 4x” and “The Executive”, which are more comparable in quality, are actually more expensive than Gillette refills. The value to the customer in the latter would be in not having to go to the store to buy razors.

Dubin says that Dollar Shave Club is able to create these shavings for consumers (couldn’t help myself)  because of their lean operations, but I think it also has to do with changing customer behavior. From informal field research, I learned that if the facial hair is thick and shaving takes place every day, most men will change their razor blade every two to three weeks, with the last razor in the pack lasting longer than the rest.

Nonetheless, whatever they are doing is working.  In concordance with another blog post I read earlier this week, “Now [really] is the Golden Era for Advertising“.



What is Kony 2012?

Kony 2012 is a film and campaign that was launched last week by the Invisible Children organization to bring awareness to Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Notorious for kidnapping children to be soldiers and sex slaves in their militia, the LRA is a small but powerful force that has been terrorizing Northern Uganda since 1987. Founded in 2005, Invisible Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that creates and runs programs to provide access to education and improve the livelihood of those affected by the LRA. Among their objectives is to bring awareness to the atrocities of the LRA and to have Kony captured.

The Kony 2012 film was uploaded to YouTube on March 5th, 2012. Three days later, this film has nearly 40 million views and 42% reach (Social Mention). The director, Jason Russell, openly asks viewers to share the video through social media. By asking for this spotlight, the film has also sparked lots of criticism. Some argue that the organization mismanages funds and others warning that taking Kony down would mean fighting his army—children.

This brilliant social media campaign is well integrated with the organization’s functions. The video enables viewers to join their cause by encouraging interested parties to visit their website for bracelets or Action Kits ($30), filled with posters, bumper stickers, bracelets etc.—think Obama 2008. The campaign culminates to an event call Blanket the Night, when participants will hit the streets to put up posters so that when the rest of the country awakes, Kony 2012 posters will be everywhere.

There is no doubt that this is a worthy cause. However, I urge all viewers to not get swept up in the social media blitz. Do some research, so that whatever the decision may be, it comes from an informed place.

Your Addiction to Your iPhone May Not Be Your Fault?

Source: AGBeat

Image Source: AG Beat

If you’re like me, you check your phone every time it buzzes: under the supper table, at the movies, when you’re almost asleep and the list goes on and on. Well, did you know that it could be as a result of training from your smartphone?

In 2010, a study in the journal of Personal and Ubiquitious Computing titled “Habits Make Smartphone Use More Pervasive” stated that smartphone users, on average, check their phones over 30 times per a day. They argue that cues that trigger this type of “checking habit”.

The NY Times Magazine reported that its a cue-routine-reward loop. The buzzing is the trigger that cues you to slide your finger across the unlock bar and the dopamine release causes you to do this over and over again, despite having just checked 10 minutes ago. Known as the pleasure chemical in our brains, dopamine causes us to seek things.

If you want to break yourself of this cycle, you have to turn off that buzz and reward yourself around another routine. Or, if you’re really like me, you just admit that you’re an informed addict.

Move aside Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is here


Pinterest is a site that stores bookmarks by users “pinning” things into virtual collage boards that can be shared with their followers. It has exploded onto the scene; according to comScore, it is the fastest growing standalone site they’ve ever tracked. With engagement levels reaching 80% re-pins (RJMetrics) for each pin, it is the hottest thing that has happened on the web since FB, Twitter and YouTube. Some argue that it will be even bigger than these sites because its interface allows it to direct site traffic back to the source.

An article on LinkedIn likened it to Napster, stating that pinning technically violates site rules because users don’t own this content and sometimes it comes from intermediary sources such as blogs. To ameliorate this situation, the Pinterest team in Palo Alto is actively working to ensure that content is coming from original sources and allows sites to opt out of pinning.

Opt out of pinning? Opt out of free traffic? It’s always important to avoid shiny object syndrome, but take the case of Chobani. Though its yogurt isn’t organic, the interest in Chobani’s yogurt developed on its own when Emily Schildt, Chobani’s digital communications manager noticed users pinning and re-pinning Chobani yogurt and recipes, while using Pinterest for her own personal interest. For the lifestyle brand, the leap into creating their own Pinterest account made sense because of their already existing following and the specific image they try to promote.

“Why Facebook Exists” by Mark Zuckerberg




As many of you know, Facebook filed for an IPO in early February. Included in the filing is a letter written by its founder. It is long for a blog, but it will surely be included in the next set of history books, so you might as well read it now:


Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.

We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do. I will try to outline our approach in this letter.

At Facebook, we’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television — by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together.

Today, our society has reached another tipping point. We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.

There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on.

We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other.

Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.

Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness.

At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships.

People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. We believe that this creates a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people get exposed to a greater number of diverse perspectives.

By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.

We have already helped more than 800 million people map out more than 100 billion connections so far, and our goal is to help this rewiring accelerate.

We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy.

We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.

As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives.

One result of making it easier to find better products is that businesses will be rewarded for building better products — ones that are personalized and designed around people. We have found that products that are “social by design” tend to be more engaging than their traditional counterparts, and we look forward to seeing more of the world’s products move in this direction.

Our developer platform has already enabled hundreds of thousands of businesses to build higher-quality and more social products. We have seen disruptive new approaches in industries like games, music and news, and we expect to see similar disruption in more industries by new approaches that are social by design.

In addition to building better products, a more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically. More than four million businesses have Pages on Facebook that they use to have a dialogue with their customers. We expect this trend to grow as well.

We hope to change how people relate to their governments and social institutions.

We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.

By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few.

Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them.

Finally, as more of the economy moves towards higher-quality products that are personalized, we also expect to see the emergence of new services that are social by design to address the large worldwide problems we face in job creation, education and health care. We look forward to doing what we can to help this progress.

Our Mission and Our Business

As I said above, Facebook was not originally founded to be a company. We’ve always cared primarily about our social mission, the services we’re building and the people who use them. This is a different approach for a public company to take, so I want to explain why I think it works.

I started off by writing the first version of Facebook myself because it was something I wanted to exist. Since then, most of the ideas and code that have gone into Facebook have come from the great people we’ve attracted to our team.

Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money. Through the process of building a team — and also building a developer community, advertising market and investor base — I’ve developed a deep appreciation for how building a strong company with a strong economic engine and strong growth can be the best way to align many people to solve important problems.

Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.

And we think this is a good way to build something. These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.

By focusing on our mission and building great services, we believe we will create the most value for our shareholders and partners over the long term — and this in turn will enable us to keep attracting the best people and building more great services. We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money, but we understand that the best way to achieve our mission is to build a strong and valuable company.

This is how we think about our IPO as well. We’re going public for our employees and our investors. We made a commitment to them when we gave them equity that we’d work hard to make it worth a lot and make it liquid, and this IPO is fulfilling our commitment. As we become a public company, we’re making a similar commitment to our new investors and we will work just as hard to fulfill it.

The Hacker Way

As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.

The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.

To encourage this approach, every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built. Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework and some of our most important infrastructure like the HipHop compiler.

To make sure all our engineers share this approach, we require all new engineers — even managers whose primary job will not be to write code — to go through a program called Bootcamp where they learn our codebase, our tools and our approach. There are a lot of folks in the industry who manage engineers and don’t want to code themselves, but the type of hands-on people we’re looking for are willing and able to go through Bootcamp.

The examples above all relate to engineering, but we have distilled these principles into five core values for how we run Facebook:

Focus on Impact

If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.

Move Fast

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Be Bold

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.

Be Open

We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.

Build Social Value

Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. We believe that we have an opportunity to have an important impact on the world and build a lasting company in the process. I look forward to building something great together.


3 Marketing Trends for Super Bowl Ads 2012

This year, a lot of companies released their ads early and some even went so far as to have its customers vote for their favorite ad to be shown on the big day. With an average of 3.5 millions of dollars behind these ads, it is understandable that companies want to make sure that their ads will actually please the masses, but it may be one reason why I was underwhelmed by the ads this year. Admittedly, I have no one else to blame other than myself for viewing the ads early.

Another thing that advertisers did this year was to include a Shazam logo in many of their creatives. London-based company, Shazam is a smartphone-based, service-provider that takes sound clips, sends it to a centralized database and identifies the source of the clip for the customer, all of which is done through an app interface. This is yet another way for marketers to track ROI, but how many people care enough about an ad that they will Shazam it?

Both Anheuser Bush InBev and Coca-cola featured creatives that progressed in a storyline as the game went on. Coca-cola took it one step further by having the ads reflect the situation of the game with their Giants and Patriot Polar Bears. Though many would argue it was creative, because viewers were used to seeing action packed commercials, many were bored by the dragged out storylines.