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Andy’s Answers: How can Starbucks build meaningful relationships with their millions of fans?

Starbucks has more Facebook fans than anyone in the world — more than 8 million worldwide. It’s a huge honor for the brand, but it also creates a significant “now what?” challenge.

The company says its goal is to establish meaningful relationships with fans in these communities, and they’re doing it in lots of ways, using lots of topics. Sometimes it’s for fun (like leading a record-breaking global sing-along of “All You Need is Love“), and sometimes it’s to get together around shared ideals. And sometimes, it’s simply for a coupon or discount.

Some big ideas from Starbucks’ Alexandra Wheeler and Matthew Guiste’s presentation on the topic at BlogWell San Diego:

  • Establish a basic workflow for user-generated content. Through their four forms of response (Amplify, Context-ify, Change or Ignore), Starbucks can quickly make decisions about the content their fans are creating. Positive or negative, Starbucks’ system makes it possible to react to their fans in real time.
  • Coach everyone on authentic engagement. Most social media folks get the “authentic” concept by now. Outside of that bubble, many still don’t. Alexandra and Matthew have taken the time to coach PR pros within Starbucks on how to move from corporate speak to genuine conversations.
  • Create a system to identify what matters. Starbucks uses the Twitter test to determine if something is a real issue for the social media team or not. If it doesn’t matter on Twitter, it doesn’t matter.