Thursday, July 16, 2009

Starbucks Listens--and Acts!

Earlier in the week Michael Estrin had a good advice in iMediaConnection for those who want to have a good blog, either personal or corporate. The graphic from Starbucks caught my eye. It perfectly captures the concept of a community being involved in idea generation for a brand.

I always wonder whether companies follow up on good ideas so I checked it out. Here’s what I found.

The My Starbucks Idea site seems to be the home page of the enterprise. It’s where you can sign up to be part of the idea generation process. It’s on a platform, so clearly it’s intended for CRM. Do the numbers in the Categories section represent posts and comments—5,483 for Tea & Other Drinks, for example. Probably. I checked some of them and there are active postings, comments and discussions.

The Idea page links to the Ideas in Action blog where Starbucks employees give feedback. I captured a post that’s reporting on the number of ideas launched in a given week. Posts are frequent.

What’s really interesting is that there tend to be 2 or 3 comments on those employee blog posts—agree, disagree, whatever—there are a few comments on each post. Comments on the Idea site tend to be more active, and assuming that a point for a post represents a vote, the voting is very active. My point is that there seems to be more action on the site that’s mostly UGC than on the blog where employees, chosen for their expertise according to the site, blog about what they have actually done. Worth thinking about! Does it mean that brand enthusiasts enjoy talking with one another even more than they enjoy talking directly to the brand?

All in all, it’s a site—and a concept—worth exploring. Starbucks has created a community around something everyone loves to do—telling you how they think you should run their business. They’ve found a way to involve and engage, and they are following up in a disciplined fashion.

I’m not saying any of this is particularly easy, especially the follow-up. I am saying that it’s worth seeing what you can learn from Starbucks about engaging customers in your own brand.

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