When Starbucks decides to take a stand, it goes all-in. It's notorious for making very public statements on issues that most brands would stay light years away from like gay marriage and gun control, reports Felicia Dorng at Social Media Today.
Is that smart? It's certainly against convention for a multinational giant, but it's definitely getting certain parts of the strategy right.
Starbucks doesn't care if its brand gets shredded by people on social media
If you have something to say, you have the right to say it. Even on Starbucks-controlled websites like its Facebook page (which has nearly 30 million fans).
It's a ballsy strategy, and allowing open dissent against a brand on its largest forum carries a significant amount of risk. Every time Starbucks sticks its neck out, it invites the mob to slash away at it.
It makes the brand more compelling for consumers
They get to engage with the brand in a different way — a more provocative, human way. The Starbucks brand has its own opinion and it's willing to start a conversation.
That's what sets the brand apart from the spam of special offers and failed attempts at humor seen on most big corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Starbucks wants to start debates, but it has to be able to handle the pressure
If you're going to invite controversy, you better be able to stand the heat. Censoring people on social media can backfire spectacularly.
Take Chapstick's gaffe from last year, which was described as a "social media death spiral" by Tim Nudd at AdFreak. The brand angered some folks by releasing a risque ad, then deleted their anti-Chapstick comments from its Facebook page, which made them even more mad. Things just got worse from there.
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