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If It Doesn’t Happen On Twitter It Probably Doesn’t Matter

LEGO Starbucks

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I attended the Social Media Conference North West in Mt Vernon yesterday and the final speaker was Brad Nelson from Starbucks. What impressed me the most about Brad was his passion for this space and his use of LEGO pictures. Brad’s enthusiasm is obviously contagious because when I posted on Twitter that he was speaking I had more than a few people ask me to post about his session.

Of most interest to me was Starbucks Twitter centric approach (hence the title of the post). This was something we’ve found to be true for almost all of our clients. Things hit Twitter before they hit anywhere else and if it doesn’t hit Twitter it’s probably not as big of a deal as you think it is. I also had to use that as a title because it’s been a while since people have yelled at me for misleading blog titles. There you go, yell away.

Of equal interest was how excited Brad is about geolocation. While I’ve been skeptical up till now, I can see why Brad’s enthusiastic.

What follows is my notes (in my words not his so I may get some facts wrong) from his session with my commentary interjected.

Brad Nelson @BradNelson runs Starbucks Twitter account, @Starbucks, Facebook page, YouTube account, MyStarbucksIdea.com and Flickr account.

Social Media is not for you:

  • If you don’t have a good product
  • If you’re not thinking long term
  • If you don’t have an open culture

All media is social
All companies are media companies

Starbucks: How to succeed in social media

  • Listen – This was the most repeated point in his talk.
  • Be human.
  • Find interesting things – It doesn’t always have to be news but it always has to be interesting.
  • Scoop others by sharing first – More and more they’re breaking news 5-10 minutes on Twitter before they send it out through the traditional channels. He woke up at 5:45 this week to tweet the news about the earnings right at 6:00.
  • Don’t overload – Twitter they can post 10-15 times a day (as long as it’s interesting) but Facebook they can only post 3-4 times a day week.
  • Respond where the fire is – If the fire’s on Twitter respond on Twitter, if it’s on a blog, respond on the blog.
  • Start now and build, you’ll need it someday – Even if there’s not a huge drive to be social media now you’ll eventually need it, start now.
  • You can’t respond to everything but you can read everything – Brad can’t respond to everything but he sets aside one day a week to make sure that he reads every reply.
  • Learn how to say no if it’s not right for your audience – If PR or Marketing brings you something to post that isn’t interesting to your followers, say no.

Standard operating procedure for any new launch

  • Every launch has a social media component.
  • Monitor conversation – keep your ear to the ground during a launch, especially early
  • Provide contextual and complete info around issues and controversies – Give as complete information as you can. Don’t ever appear like you’re hiding something.
  • Rapid response – Always respond quickly even if it’s just to let them know you’re listening.
  • Relevant information – Keep it relevant, don’t try and change the topic.

YouTube is the gutter of the Internet - Don’t expect thoughtful mature response – This was my second favorite comment of the night. He said he has to regularly turn off comments on YouTube. I’ve had very similar experiences on YouTube.

Be authentic

  • Twitpic is more powerful than a DSLR (high grade digital camera) – Grainy camera phone pics are more authentic and better received than polished professional pictures.
  • Advocate for the customer – A community managers job is to be an advocate for the customer inside the company.
  • Translate to your voice – Even if someone gives you something to post, rewrite it in your own voice.
  • Agencies - Use them to be your eyes, ears, feet, and even brain - Never outsource your voice!!!

If it doesn’t happen on Twitter it probably doesn’t matter. – This was my favorite thing said all night. He has often caught things before PR does by watching Twitter. Even when they think something might be a big deal, if it’s not picking up on Twitter they rarely have to worry about it.

Everything emanates from Twitter, it’s their social content hub
In 2009 everything was about the status update
In 2010 everything is about the check in
Very excited about location based social services like Foursquare
They recently launched the Barista badge with Foursquare (check in to 5 different Starbucks) look for more types of  things yet to come.

Geolocation is the “footstream” (as opposed to the click stream). You can watch where customers go before and after a Starbucks. Opens up new opportunities for cross promotions. Social shopping is yet to be tapped.

People expect to use social media for customer service. What’s a 1-800#?

Starbucks looks at marketing as paid (advertising), owned (own web, email)and earned media (PR and social)

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Photo credit by icedsoul photography .:teymur madjderey

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tac Anderson, Tac Anderson, Zacharycohen, Micheal Foley, mattwhiting and others. mattwhiting said: Great read. "If It Doesn’t Happen On Twitter It Probably Doesn’t Matter" @tacanderson's post on @bradnelson's thoughts http://bit.ly/dy8Cea [...]

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    [...] If It Doesn’t Happen On Twitter It Probably Doesn’t Matter (newcommbiz.com) [...]

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  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Thanks for sharing, Tac. Great summary of the preso. You said Brad mentioned the Barista badge as a 4Square integration and opportunities for cross-promotion. Did he happen to couch it as another medium for brands to engage from a customer service perspective by listening to notes people leave. Seems there's an opportunity there, but you hear very little about it.

    Your favorite comment was my 2nd favorite. My favorite was this one: “Start now and build, you’ll need it someday.” So many companies do not understand the need to establish goodwill in the social space. They only want to pay for campaigns. Well, isn't the health of your overall brand reputation a campaign?


  • etrauer

    Excellent post! I'll use this in my Blog and Strategic Marketing class at UDESC - Santa Catarina's University with business administration, fashion and design courses.

  • http://socialagain.com/a-lot-can-happen-over-twitter-starbucks A lot can happen over Twitter: “Starbucks” | Social Again

    [...] What makes Starbucks Social Media program good is that they have kept their initiatives and promotional strategies at different level. Just for example they have kept @starbucks and @mystarbucksidea clear with goals and the kind of conversations being built on each outreach. The person behind the scene is Brad Nelson. Brad was present on Social Media Conference North West ,which Tac Anderson covered in his blog in a nice article If it Doesn’t Happen On Twitter, It Probable Doesn’t Matter. [...]

  • alexisperrier

    excellent article, thank you very much. Much needed help for internal communication on social network vs mktg

  • http://www.ryancmiller.com ryancmiller

    Tac. This was the best post of SM best practices I've read in a while. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    The need to bridge in store customer service with social channels was mentioned but not possible or scalable today. I think this is a huge opportunity in the future.

    Starting now is important, but I didn't call it out because to me it's table stakes. You gotta be there to play.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Thanks for the comment and elaborating on the CS vision.

    I think we (social media advocates who live it everyday) see “starting now” as table steaks. But I've encountered many company reps who don't see it that way. They feel need for a campaign to engage. Need help seeing social media is a conversation, not a campaign.


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    [...] My new reliance on Twitter is a small example of how the 140 character tweets are affecting the world.  Enter a recent blog post I read, titled If It Doesn’t Happen on Twitter It Probably Doesn’t Matter. [...]

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    [...] latte, there are business lessons to be taken from the caffeine king pin as well? The man behind Starbucks’ Twitter account, Brad Nelson, spoke at a recent social media conference, sharing the company’s experience and strategy for the [...]

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    [...] latte, there are business lessons to be taken from the caffeine king pin as well? The man behind Starbucks’ Twitter account, Brad Nelson, spoke at a recent social media conference, sharing the company’s experience and strategy for the [...]

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    Starbucks is a global brand. You need a good Brand, which is not the same as product? Great entry!

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