Healthcare Marketing: Take a Lesson from Starbucks on Social Media

Starbucks has become the most popular brand on Facebook because they are engaging with their customers.

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Starbucks recently surpassed Coca-Cola as the most popular brand on Facebook with over 3.6 million fans. The Altimeter Group also named it the “Most Engaged Brand”.  Why has Starbucks been so successful with their social media efforts? Alexander Wheeler, Digital Strategy Director for Starbucks credits really listening to the conversation and engaging in the discussion in a way that makes sense.  

Hospitals are beginning to use social media.  In many cases it’s experimental, just trying it.  And in too many cases it’s a half-hearted effort.  Certainly, a hospital won’t rival Starbucks but it would be worthwhile to learn how to make use of social media effectively.  It’s more than just entry now and then.  It’s more than just slapping up a page and sending occasional tweets.  It’s about listening to the consumer and engaging them where they are, with information that’s important to them. 

Alexander continues, “It isn’t a PR indicative; its alleviating and creating great consumer value and great consumer relationships.”  It’s about using the medium to build relationships.  Its listening and responding to needs and interest.  It’s not just about being where people are, but it’s about being relevant and creating valuable experiences.

Starbucks has the advantage of using social media to promote events like Red Day and Free Pastry Day.  It’s pretty hard for hospitals to do that.  But Starbucks has received over 75,000 ideas from their social community.  They are engaging their fans and followers.  They are building relationships.

Hospital marketers can get more than just a cup of Joe from Starbucks.


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