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Starbucks and Social Media

As everyone knows, social media is an absolute must for any marketer today. It’s more important than measured media advertising, traditional customer service, and just about every classic marketing technique.

Everyone also knows that Starbucks is a case study example of how to do social media well. It has almost 200,000 Twitter followers, nearly 1.5 million Facebook fans, and a large, active blog. It regularly tweets, posts, and comments.

Except year-over-years same-store sales at Starbucks continue to decline. They’ve declined each quarter this year, even as their social media program has shined. On the other hand, social media wannabes like McDonald’s have continued to see sales increases based principally on good classic advertising and other marketing techniques.

The point here is not that social media marketing does not work; rather, the point is that it is just a tool in a company’s marketing bag, not an end in and of itself. Starbucks sells the experience of hand-made premium coffee at its many coffee houses. Just because they get a lot of people communicating with them online does not necessarily sell more coffee. (And, in fact, it hasn’t.)

Domus is a Philadelphia-based marketing communications agency. Please visit our web site at for more information.

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