“If you want people to follow you, walk behind them” – Starbucks’ Howard Schultz leads the field on ROI for social media

In my ‘day job’ as one of the Director of a Social Media (ROI) consultancy firm called Media Focus UK Ltd I am always on the look out for fantastic thought leaders and columnists to follow and Gordon MacMillan at Brand Republic is one of those. He stays three paces ahead of others in thinking and can simply express what many feel needs to be said in readable and enjoyable terms.

In his latest posting (link below) he discusses the perennial problem of 3 out of every 4 marketeers or communication people not really understanding where social media fits as a part of their major promotional strategies and that they are ‘confused about the role.’ He cites someone who is not – Howard Schultz – the boss of Starbucks.

Schultz is asked in an interview which one channel will take precedence, here’s his answer:

“I think social media is a natural extension of our brand because we want to do things that are unexpected, and to speak to all sorts of people who are engaged with social media. It’s tough to measure but there is an incremental benefit to sales.”

MacMillan goes on “No one questions the value of PR or thinks too much about assigning ROI to it. It is clearly done well worth its weight in gold” and that there is one thing (the PR thing) that struck him, “Howard Schultz must think about ROI when he thinks about the 200% rise in profits at Starbucks in the last quarter.”

MacMillan continues “Schultz must think about ROI when he discusses how the coffee chain attracted 5.1 million Facebook fans and 768, 527 followers and how according to Nielsen the time spent by users on social networking sites has more than doubled since December 2007. Nielsen said last month that consumers spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009.”

A Chinese proverb (I forget who said it now – perhaps Lao Tse) said something along the lines of “If you want people to follow you, walk behind them.” Meaning, I’d guess you can persuade people easier if you are one of them and are listening to what they think, feel and are responding to them and valuing them all. Isn’ t that what Starbucks are doing in this example?

MacMillan concludes “If you want to talk to these people you’d better be where they are. I’ll mention Dell again. You kind of have to and while the $6.5m it made via Twitter is a drop in the ocean it is part of a growing drop that many savvy firms are part of.”

Free downloads of real life examples on how social media is changing the way business works – taken from newspapers ’09

Making Money from Social Media – real world examples

Better targeted advertising – real world examples

Corporate reputation disasters – real world examples

Changing face of journalism Real life examples 2009

Group based campaigning – real world examples



1 thought on ““If you want people to follow you, walk behind them” – Starbucks’ Howard Schultz leads the field on ROI for social media

  1. Pingback: Corporate Communications – Power Of The People, Not Power Of The Media « thewordmonger's blog

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