Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and Target

This week’s brands are brought to you by my typical weekend indulgences- Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and a place you can usually find both, Target.

How a brand uses their social media accounts is very important. Each brand can have a different approach to how they drive traffic, which content they use, or whether or not they use hashtags, but the key to successful social media marketing is consistently updating content on each site. Below is a short evaluation on three brands of my choosing.

Starbucks

This week Starbucks released two new flavored lattes, the tiramisu latte and the caramel flan latte. On Tuesday February 17th they posted the same picture (see below) with the hashtags #tiramisulatte, #caramelflanlatte, and #starbucksdate on Facebook, Instagram and Google+, and the following day on Twitter. The descriptions all were a bit different, Google+ saying “The sweetest moments we share,” Instagram saying “Hearts warmed and taste buds tickled,” and Facebook saying “Coffee date? Dessert Date? Both, please” but they were all short, sweet, and effective. Starbucks is not a brand that uses social media to push for sales. Instead, they use creative and enticing wording to share their product, provide information, as well as connect with their customers.

Starbucks pic1

An evaluation of Starbuck’s social media websites will prove that they are very consistent in the messages and imagery they use. I do not just mean in how the portray themselves across each website, but in how they overall represent their brand. Twitter is their most used platform, updating statuses at least once a day if not more, and retweeting pictures or comments made by fans. Instagram and Facebook are updated about five times a week on average, if not more often (based on past 3 months). Google+ looks to be the least updated social media site, though there are posts once to twice a week.

Starbucks collage1

It is on Facebook that Starbucks provides the most amount of information for a consumer. They include a map that lists nearby locations, as well as links to Pinterest and YouTube, an International tab, and even an Open Jobs tab. The ability to access YouTube and Pinterest through Facebook is the only way I have found that Starbucks drives their audience to other sites. But the company definitely uses hashtags across all sites. Almost all status updates include a picture as well as a hashtag, such as #StarbucksDate (for Valentine’s Day), #StarbucksGiftCard (popular around Christmas), or simply whatever the beverage may be, #caramelfrappe, #flatwhite, etc.

Starbucks pic2.jpg

On Twitter, Starbucks has multiple handles, including @StarbucksNews, @StarbucksJobs, @Frappuccino, as well as different handles for certain countries, like @StarbucksRussia, @StarbucksPeru, etc. These help the company connect with their audiences in a more specific way. They obviously are big about providing value for their fans instead of just pushing products in their face. And it seems to work. Their willingness to connect on each platform with consumers while providing consistent marketing has their popular social media sites, as well as others like LinkedIn and Pinterest, growing daily.

Ben & Jerry’s

If you aren’t familiar with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, you must be a rare individual who has never had a bad day or a sweet-tooth. Just in case you are one of those rare people, here is the short version- Ben & Jerry’s is a Vermont based company that specializes in very awesome ice cream. Their infamous pints and flavors can be found at most grocery stores, and they even have stores set up in several cities across the United States.

B&J pic1

Ben & Jerry’s does not have quite as large of a following as Starbuck’s does, but they definitely are pretty popular on social media sites. Should you log onto any of the social sites the company is active on it is very obvious that they do not just share pictures on ice cream cones. In fact, several of the posts found on Twitter and Facebook are related to environmental projects and causes. Their company is focused on making a profit, but also by helping create a better world. On the flip side, Ben & Jerry’s is very creative and therefore increases brand awareness by allowing celebrities to create ice-cream flavors. For example, this week Jimmy Fallon’s flavor was released- Late Night Dough. Other popular flavors linked to the entertainment world include Americone Dream (for Stephen Colbert), Wayne’s Swirled (for Wayne’s World), and Cherry Garcia (for Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead).

B&J collage 1

It is almost as if Ben & Jerry’s has three different brand voices- one that is focused on the environment, one that is focused on creativity and social relevance, and one that is focused on good ice-cream that everyone young and old can enjoy. Each of these voices are very much recognized on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and even Pinterest and LinkedIn. If Ben & Jerry’s is posting about an environmental event on Facebook, they are sure to post on Twitter and Instagram also so that their message of the day is clearly spread out but consistent. The company definitely uses hashtags in almost every status they post on each social site, but the only way they seem to drive people to other social sites is by driving them to their homepage, BenJerry.com, which then includes widgets of each social media site.

B&J collage 2

One thing that is worth noting is that even on Instagram and Pinterest, Ben & Jerry’s uses creative photos that are sure to be more eye-catching than just the same old bowl of ice cream or ice cream cone. The company is very successful in capturing their audience’ attention by posting creative, out-of-the-box pictures of their products, such as the picture below on Instagram three weeks ago.

B&J pic3

Target

Target offers so many products that their social media content has to be more about how they want to appear online than about what it is they are putting out to the world. Active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and even Vine, the retail giant had to be sure to be very up-to-date, consistent, and relevant with each post so to appeal to the enormous audience they have gained.

Target collage 1

Since they offer so many different products, just like Starbucks, Target has multiple Twitter handles to better appeal to a target audience. @TargetStyle is for fashionistas, @TargetDeals is for those looking to get the best deals during their shopping, and @TargetNews is about the important company news that most shoppers most likely are not as interested in. On Facebook as well as on Twitter, Target is very big on connecting and replying to their audience, answering any questions that people may ask.

What I find very interesting about Target is that they do not post the same image and status across all social media sites. This week, Instagram and Facebook have posts about #CabinFeverHack (due to the terrible weather in much of the country) while Twitter has many additional updates, including a post about Reese’s Easter Eggs and yesterday’s National Love your Pet Day. When I searched for Target on Google+, I was immediately directed to their YouTube videos, and though their videos are recent, their posts for Google+ are very outdated.

Facebook is definitely the Target social media site to provide the most amount of information, even if it isn’t updated quite as often as Twitter. They offer not only maps to the closest store, but also product recalls, links to other Target Facebook pages that are more specific (just like the Twitter handles), and a tab for Target Coupons. Just like Ben & Jerry’s, Target links all photos to their website, which then includes widget of each social media site they are active on. Hashtags are definitely used on Twitter and Instagram, but not so much on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

Target collage 2

Overall, Target is very active on each site, with the exception of Google+. They keep their content up-to-date, they post often, and they also do not just use their sites to bombard fans with products saying “Buy! Buy! Buy!” They use very colorful pictures and gifs with each status, they post similar content on each site, and they use each social media site to connect to their audiences worldwide.

Conclusion

Each of these three brands has a different approach to how they use their social media sites. Starbucks and Target definitely post more often than Ben & Jerry’s and use the same imagery and message across multiple sites, but Ben & Jerry’s uses their social media platforms to share information about the company’s environmental values with fans worldwide. All three have strong integrated media communication plans, use hashtags effectively, though differently, but overall are very much using the advantages of social media by having two-way conversations with their fans.