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Business - Written by on Thursday, November 13, 2008 17:57 - 4 Comments

Denis Hancock
Starbucks: tracking a wikinomics-enabled marketing success story

As I’ve been researching the Facebook engagement metrics, my colleague Alan Majer reminded me about Facebook Lexicon – a cool application that allows you to track “count occurrences of words and phrases on Walls over time.” As I’ve played around with it today, I stumbled onto neat, simple story about how Starbucks has put together a wikinomics-enabled marketing success story.

Over 300,000 people have viewed the “If you vote, Starbucks buys you a coffee” video on YouTube. While a lot of people have given credit to Starbucks for coming up with a good marketing idea, they didn’t actually come up with it – BillMac did. And who is BillMac you might ask? Well, he is the person who posted the idea on MyStarbucksIdea on October 7th, 2008. I know this because mguiste, who works for Starbucks, wrote about it on Starbuck’s Idea in Action blog – while noting that a “similar theme was echoed by JavaOcha, Geraldo, rsj211, epiphanygalore, and a few others.” The idea rocketed to into the top-10 based on community votes, and Starbucks decided to go ahead and do it. They kicked off the initiative with a 60-second spot on Saturday Night Live, and the video was uploaded to YouTube on November 1st.

So how successful was the campaign? Well, let’s go back to Facebook Lexicon for an indicator. The picture below shows how many times “Starbucks” appeared on people’s walls over the last year. As you can see, there has been a steady and consistent decline throughout 2008, until all of the sudden there is a MASSIVE spike. On November 1st.

Pretty interesting example of a company starting to piece it all together- though it would have been really interesting to see what would have happened if they’d skipped on the SNL broadcast altogether. It would probably have also been good if the campaign wasn’t illegal :) .


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Nov 14, 2008 8:27

It’ll be interesting to track such movements going forward – the spike on Nov 1 seems to have been completely ignored thereafter. Does it build brand? Might also be interesting to track by industry / competition and see trends going forward.

Nov 14, 2008 16:47

I follow someone’s delicious account and this is a post they bookmarked. In their description they seemed to really disagree, so I checked out Starbucks on yahoo finance to see the impact of this campaign.

As of right now they are trading at $8.61. This is the lowest the stock price has been for the year to date. The stock did rebound considerably around the time of this campain. However, it doesn’t seem to have made a lasting impression.

If anything it seems like a flash in the pan “oh wow that’s cool” moment.

Denis Hancock
Nov 17, 2008 13:53


Thanks for the comment. However, I do think it’s a little unfair to use the stock price as the indicator of a how effective / successful a particular, one-time marketing campaign is.

Of note, Starbucks recently announced profits were down 97% YOY, they’ve over built for quite awhile, they got away from their core value proposition by automating so many parts of the production process, etc.

A single marketing campaign is not going to change all of that – and I should have noted that one-time give aways of this nature are generally poor vehicles for creating long-term customers. What it can do is increase exposure for the brand.

On this front, I do think it’s a “wow, that’s cool” moment. They used an open forum to find a what many people consider a cool idea, get a lot of free exposure through YouTube, and you can see how Facebook Lexicon might be an interesting tool for monitoring the viral properties.

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » Dealing with backlash in the blogosphere: a personal experience
Nov 25, 2008 12:38

[...] to was this one- The Worst Thing About Blogs. In the post, Ryan lumped my recent story about Starbucks’ wikinomics-enabled marketing success story with other posts from the likes of Guy Kawaski, Hugh Macleod, Steve Rubel, and Michael Arrington, [...]

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