Social media is no longer a shiny exciting tool for most companies, it has become a standard part of the marketing department and a tested portion of the communications plan. It has come a long way and there are so many outlets for companies to connect with consumers.
In the last several years, communications platforms have exploded making the two dimensional world of tv/newspaper/mailers more conversational to include the consumer.
But you know all of this already, right? You’re here to learn why none of that is good enough, no?
Let’s take Starbucks as a primary example of why social media is useless and empty.
First, I should tell you that I’m a huge Starbucks fan, I’ve been going there since high school. One of the few stocks we own is SBUX, we’re there all the time, we have meetings there, we own a bunch of stupid Starbucks mugs, journals, etc. I feel a certain ownership over the brand as hundreds of thousands of others do.
Starbucks has some great talent in the marketing department. Their print collateral is fantastic, packaging has always been impeccable, they enjoy one of the most popular Facebook pages of all time and have 1.2 million Twitter followers.
So what is Starbucks doing incorrectly?
It sounds like everything’s fantastic, right? I shovel money into their system, they are popular online and they remain the darlings of the marcom industry, so what are they doing poorly?
Their web presence. That is what they are doing incorrectly. Get as many followers as you want, but their entire social media presence is designed as a hollow facade… I have countless examples, but let’s just use a simple one- recycling.
I am frustrated that so many thousands of cups are wasted every day as well as glasses from their cold case. Here is the path of action:
- I ask a store employee if they have a recycling bin hidden somewhere. She gets me the manager who cheerfully tells me to go to MyStarbucksIdea.com.
- Feeling brushed off, I think “whatev, I’m busy anyway.”
- It festers. I go to the dumb website. I see I’m not the first to have this suggestion and at the time three years ago, it was actually a popular topic (you can see how other ideas rank). I enter my idea to have on site recycling.
- Months go by. No recycling, no acknowledgement, just silence. Now I’m angry and being ignored is turning me into a tree hugging hippie and I’m about to burst and tie myself to a tree in protest.
- I “@” message Starbucks on Twitter with no response.
- I DM Starbucks and a week later get a message back noting that each location has the option to recycle, it is up to them to pay the extra expense.
- Seriously? Okay, so I go back to the manager and show her the tweet. She says she has asked for recycling and was told regionally that it was not an option. Oh. Okay, thanks.
- I yank the regional manager’s business card off of the sugar/milk rack and leave.
- I email the regional manager who notes that it is up to each store’s budgetary discretion.
- Like a hippie, I whine about it on Facebook where Starbucks (on their wall) said that many stores offer recycling and that a recycling program is set to go nationally. This was in 2008 that this went down…
- Like a bigger hippie, I whine on Twitter that I’m getting the runaround and @Starbucks told me to go to MyStarbucksIdea.com.
- It is 2011 and I have to carry a damn cup with me because I feel like Starbucks hates the Earth and has a personal vendetta against my children.
I get the “benefit” of getting coupons on Facebook and I get to feel super cool mega awesome that “@Starbucks” follows and will acknowledge me by name, but if your client had to go through the above jerky jerk, they’d either fire you or go bald pulling their hair out.
Starbucks is not prepared to implement change on any level. It’s a hollow facade called social media that they’ve duped the C-Suite into thinking makes a difference. It’s bunk.
Starbucks isn’t alone
This isn’t an isolated incident. Many companies have discovered that they can set up a Twitter account and funnel all complaints to it then give the runaround just like the old fashioned “please hold, I’ll get my supervisor” system.
Is it intentional? Absolutely not. Starbucks and any other company means well and they’re trying their hardest, but the consumer is on the verge of figuring out what I already have- social media use by most companies is simply par for the course and they “want” to get leads, keep consumers happy, answer questions, and every other tiny facet of the social media tenets, but it ends up being an insincere runaround and the bubble is about to burst, mark my words.
As an independent contractor, boutique broker or otherwise, don’t fall into this trap- maintain your web presence, but don’t do it because you went to a seminar on it and want to get rich quick or because your marketing department mandated it, do it IF and ONLY IF you are capable of managing it… social media marketing isn’t just about follower numbers or being “popular,” this is grown up business.