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Andy’s Answers: How Starbucks used social tools to launch VIA

When Starbucks launched VIA, their new instant coffee brand, they got a lot of help from their fans. It wasn’t an accident — it was the result of a fantastic, fan-focused word-of-mouth program that earned them more than a billion in sales in VIA’s first year.

At our Word of Mouth Supergenius event, Starbucks’ Matthew Guiste explained how they did it. A few of his big ideas:

  • Does it add value? This is Matthew’s big question for any content they consider sharing with their community. Whether it’s related to a new product, a campaign or a company issue, it has to pass this test.
  • Do special things for special audiences. During “Free Pastry Day,” Starbucks offered a free pastry for anyone who bought a coffee during a three-hour window. They originally planned a big advertising and PR blowout, but then decided to announce it exclusively through digital channels. Fans loved it — it was the biggest traffic day ever across every digital channel, more people opened the e-mail than it was sent to, and it was Twitter’s No. 1 topic for the day.
  • Social media is a contact sport. Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar product launch or everyday engagement, great word-of-mouth and social-media programs are the result of dedication, commitment and hard work.

If you like this presentation, check out our upcoming Word of Mouth Supergenius event in New York on July 20.