Branding in Social Media: Evidence from Starbucks, Harley-Davidson and Ryanair

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As of yesterday, there were 22,577,692 likes on Starbucks Facebook page, 1,502,234 followers on twitter account. This clearly says Starbucks is doing something right with social media on the web. Starbucks uses different social media platform for different purposes. Twitter: Starbucks engages customers by having a conversation by tweets. They ask questions, listens to customers about the brand and create an open communication channel to interact with the customers. It handles direct and indirect customer issues and complaints. Facebook: Starbucks posts contents in this platform such as: Videos, blogs, posts, photos. It also uses inviting to event s feature of Facebook and use post as medium to invite fans for discussion and comments. YouTube: They upload informational videos and commercials on YouTube. Video subject can vary from charity work to information about different coffee blends. Videos about history of the company can also be found which allows people to relate to the brand. My Starbucks Idea: Customers are asked to share ideas, comment on other’s ideas, vote on the ideas and check out the results. Participants feel they are part of the decision making process which further personalizes the brand. MSI (as it is known to the community) has four major components: Share, Vote, Discuss and See. These components provide an ongoing loop of discussion, interaction and ultimately action. Starbucks Blog “Ideas in Actions: Main idea is to keep customers in the loop regarding implementation of selected idea. This keeps customer in the loop and informed regarding what’s happening with their ideas and creates loyalty towards the brand. Altogether the social media mix uses the right elements of different social media platform which has resulted in millions of followers/fans for the brand. Many experts comment that, if these elements were implemented alone then the Starbucks would not have been as successful and complete as with mix of elements. The strategy of using which elements and the right mix depends on the priorities set by the company. Starbucks has put communicating with their customers and potential customers as a top priority. Critics

Some critics have pointed out that Starbucks is not using some of the social media platforms right. For example, some say that the Facebook pages is not updated frequently and new content is added after long time. But on the other hand, consumers are happy with the frequency of updates. One of the consumer’s comments “although they don’t update very much, I’m kind of happy about that. It can be really annoying when your FB wall is full of updates from companies. I think it helps them to not deter customers out of frustration. I definitely love my Starbucks fix and will continue to “like” them.” My opinion is that there will be always some critics and one cannot satisfy everybody in this world. But as long as you can identify your audience (customers) and adapt your performance to cater to their characteristics, I consider that its a perfect model. Alex Wheeler, Director of Digital Strategy at Starbucks, said 1 “we need to listen holistically and understand how things fit into the big picture, and then balance this with what’s right for the social media channels you use.” Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson is more than a just motorcycle. It is a lifestyle, a dream and a culture icon. As rightly puts it2, “Harley doesn’t shout about what it does online, but it doesn’t really need to. The brand knows that its customers aren’t just fans, they live and breathe the biking lifestyle. Harley’s Free Country website leverages this, allowing people to express their love of 'living free'. This is a targeted, message-perfect campaign from the legacy brand, and shows true understanding of just what its fans want from it.” For Harley Davidson, it is a quintessential brand that speaks to freedom and innovation. They want loyalist to talk about their love...
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