Case Study: Starbucks social media backlash.

The number one concern my clients have when it comes to social media is the potential BACKLASH they can suffer as a result of posting the wrong message.

Remember last year’s Holiday cup? Starbucks went with an ALL RED cup instead of a cup that reflected “Christianity” in an effort to include all religious ideologies. Shortly after releasing the all-red cups, there were over 9 million internet posts and broadcasts blasting Starbucks for this BOLD move. The outcry was that “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus“. Donald Trump even went to social media to voice his opinion by proposing a boycott on Starbucks. (No surprise there!)

Despite the ridiculous boycott attempt – and subsequent internet and radio backlash – Starbuck’s stocks surpassed the first three-quarters in the final quarter for 2015.

social media platforms

Social media is forgiving?

Social media has both a short attention span and even shorter shelf life – thus making social media marketing much more forgiving than most realize. Besides, social media marketing is about growing a community, engaging it and spreading the word about your products and services. Therefore, your first task is not to always say the right thing and to please everyone. Your first task is to gain an audience and be heard.

Being public is the KEY to social media marketing.

Like it or not, social media is meant to be a public activity. That is WHY we market on social media. To be seen and heard. Doing nothing and remaining silent is the absolute WORST thing you could do. I tell my clients, “the next time you start worrying about what other people might think before you publish a Facebook post, a Tweet, an Instagram photo, a LinkedIn update – anything –  ask yourself: what will they think of I don’t publish posts?” The answer to that question is: “Nothing”.

Moral of the story . . .

Going back to the Starbuck’s scenario, their poorly planned campaigns over that last year have resulted in a tremendously large amount of viral attention. No matter how much backlash Starbuck’s receives, it always comes out ahead in sales, growth, and profit.

Your takeaways for today are . . .

  • When you want to do social media marketing right you have to bend the rules.
  • In social media – you get more than one chance.
  • Before you worry about what people think about your message, worry about getting seen and heard.
  • It is best to make mistakes than do nothing at all. As Wayne Gretsky once said – “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”



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