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Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Social Media Strategies for Strengthening Brand

It’s funny as I began to think about this blog thought it would be a no brainer. After all, it’s about branding in the digital age. I’ve been in digital since the first banner was sold. Technically, I was in it before.

I am a brand loyalist. If I have a personal affinity to a brand I tell everyone online and offline. When I think about the brands I love the most, many are digital: Google, Facebook and Twitter. The other brands I love are Apple and Starbucks. Oddly enough I don’t visit the brand in a social media environment.

If I had to pick a brand based on these guidelines I’d choose Starbucks. As most know, Starbucks is always listed as one of the top ten brands using social media effectively.

A recent post in Social Media Today delves into Starbucks surprising Facebook page. The page was created in 2008 and has grown. It has close to 30 million “likes.” It has the typical corporate content that covers products, new products, promotions and the like. The Starbucks page is also a hot bed for controversy from fans, customers and Starbucks itself.

During the last few months the Starbucks page has been laden with political speech. Two controversial topics brewed (no pun intended): Starbucks’ explicit endorsement of the marriage equality bill in its home state of Washington, and a boycott organized by the National Gun Victim’s Action Council to protest Starbucks’ policy of allowing customers to carry guns in stores when and where it’s legal. (Social Media Today, 2012)

So to answer the question, “How has the brand’s presence in social media strengthened the brand,” I scratch my head a bit. I think it has strengthened the brand to its passionate loyalists. Just read the page and you’ll see many accolades thanking Starbucks for staying true, being supportive and not backing down.

This Valentine’s Day a bunch of people negatively posted that they were planning on boycotting Starbucks if the company did change its point of view on guns. Equal or greater than the negative comments was an influx of positive comments supporting and applauding the brand.

Branding Personality reports that in the past 3 years, Starbucks has grown its “Facebook Fan” count to over 27,600,000 Fans! Making it number 33 on the All Facebook Stats Facebook Page Leader Board.  This number is absolutely off the charts for a consumer brand product. In fact, Starbucks Facebook Page comes in at number 2 for all consumer brand products, according to All Facebook Stats. (Branding Personality, 2012)

Starbucks has a Twitter page with 2 million followers. The company responds to followers every day. It’s amazing how they truly interact with followers. I keep watching its growth and admire the company for listening, responding and engaging. Isn’t that what everyone says they’ll do vis a vis social media? And isn’t that where they fall short.




Gembarski, R. (n.d.). How Starbucks Built an Engaging Brand on Social Media | Facebook for Businesses and Social Media by Branding Personality. Facebook for Businesses and Social Media Personal Branding by Branding Personality. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from

Online Marketing Trends: Top 15 Globally  Most Active Brands  Using  Social Media. (n.d.). Online Marketing Trends. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from



Social Media Differentiation.

When I think of two companies in the same industry that use social media I immediately think of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Of course each company rivals the other. They are considered competitors.

However, when you look at the lifestyle of a Starbucks consumer s/he is most likely urban or traveling to an urban area for work or school. They tend to be more educated and affluent.

Walk into any Starbucks and you’ll see a warm, comfortable atmosphere with ambient lighting, comfy chairs and free WiFi. Watch as people enter in droves only to wait in line for their beloved Grande non-fat latte or half Cap with soy.

Dunkin Donuts prides itself on offering a good hot cup of coffee. It appeals to the average working American. The stores are brighter with limited seating and not the place where one lingers. They have more of a rush-in-and-get-out feel. Not to mention Dunkin Donuts as many drive thru windows. As big as the line of cars get, the line typically moves fast. The company has a slogan, “America runs on Dunkin.”

Starbucks has been widely recognized in the social media sphere. Technorati calls Starbucks the Nation’s most socially engaged company. IN fact the company is said to be one of the fastest brands to respond via social media. I have heard different stats but the turnaround time is a mere half hour or so.

In a post on iDigitalTimes a few days ago, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz announced the launch of the newest campaign called Indivisible. It is designed to encourage average citizens to voice their opinions on social media sites across the Web to let politicians know what they want from their government. Shultz hopes that the campaign can help “put citizenship over partisanship.” (iDitialTimes, 2012)

Just as their stores are different so is their social media presence. Dunkin Donuts brand identity is carried out successful via social media. The company is active on Facebook and Twitter as well as mobile devices. Much of the content is supporting local sports teams like the Boston Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins.

Its new social media campaign is called, “Get Dunk’d.” Dunkin Donuts is launching promotions to get customers tweeting and Facebook chatting about the brand.

Missy Maio, senior field marketing manager for Dunkin’ Brands Inc. told Diect Marketing News,  “We are really looking for ways that we can connect our brand with the people who want to be connected with us in a nontraditional manner… and we want to give back to our loyal customers who have signed up for our social media pages.”

A far cry from discussions and banter related to politics, the environment and social and political issues. However, when all you want is a good cup of joe who needs all that?

Social Media Implications, Cultural Anthropology and Technology

Social Media Implications, Cultural Anthropology and Technology

When I think about implications I look through the lens of a media gal. That’s how I grew up in the business. Social media is a channel. Perhaps it’s a bigger microphone? I think it is tied to a lot of offline behavior as well as online experiences.

Consider this, I wait for a reservation at a hot new restaurant. My friends and I all Facebook each other to coordinate plans for the dinner. We plan. Our friends “like” our status and comment saying to let them know how it was or that they wish they could get in. when we finally get together that night we take pictures as we always do with our iPhone and upload them to Facebook. We tag each other. Then the server pays no attention to us. The food doesn’t come out on time. Mine is undercooked. I politely send it back. The server begrudgingly takes it. One of my friends already posts of Facebook. Skip to the next scene, the night got worse and we decide to go to a bar to meet more friends. When we get there we tell them. Then we post a rant on Yelp for all to see.

Herein lies the bad offline experience with the online and social media virality. It spreads like a firestorm and there’s no going back. This happens today. It happens all the time. It has become a way of life for many including me. There are huge implications.

In fact, two days ago Altimeter Research released a new study. Findings clearly show that most companies lack a formalized process –and even out of the advanced, only 76% had a process in place (Altimeter research, 2012).

The way I see it too many brands think about a social media strategy with their defensive guard up. They ask themselves “what if” someone says something bad. What if it spreads and cross-pollinate to other platforms. Will it have a shelf life? How can I be prepared to defend my brand?

Truth is, the best social media is offensive. It’s open-ended and two-way. It is a bigger microphone and maybe it amplifies. Don’t let it break the sound barrier. Have a conversation. Create a dialogue. Temper the rant. Respond as quickly as you can; figure out a way to do it. Maybe bring it over to email or provide a phone number where they can call customer service. Listen. Listen and listen more. Try and turn it around. Ask for a second chance. It may not always work. It may not actually be worth it.

Kimberly Whitler wrote an article the other day for She brings recognition to the fact that many CMOs make some pretty big social media mistakes. She defines them as: 1) failure to understand how social media links to the broader business strategies, 2) failure to develop a really strong content plan, and 3) failure to seed a discussion and instead focusing solely on self-promotion (Forbes, 2012)

In social it’s almost be-careful-what-you-wish-for. You want to grow a fan base, build a community, and have a constant flow of communication outbound and inbound. Did you ever think beyond that? What if you really do get an army full of fans or a gaggle of likes and a buzz of tweets and retweets? Or maybe your brand gets tagged and pinned all over. What next? What’s the new new? That to me is the biggest implication.

It loops off of technology. A brand needs a way to monitor conversations and track sentiment. It also needs a way to efficiency steward messaging. However, it is not a pure-technology play. There needs to be a tone, some solid writing and some feeling of authenticity. Good communication is not an auto response.

Social anthropology shows us that ranting and raving is the socialsphere is more mainstream than not. Heck just think of the Facebook user base of 900 million active people. It’s as big as a small country. People have something to say and believe that they should be able to say it.

Millennials who grew up with technology throw just about everything out to the digital and mobile world. Quite frankly much of this demographic feels more comfortable online than off. They like to toggle between an online identities to anonymity. Often they script, story tell and gossip as a mere handle not a person. Strong brands know this and see past it. They embrace it and don’t slow down.


Breakdown: Social Media Workflow, Process, Triage | Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing. (n.d.). Web Strategy By Jeremiah Owyang: Web Marketing, Social Media. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from

How CMOs Can Avoid The Common Social Media Mistakes – Forbes. (n.d.). Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Retrieved September 1, 2012, from

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