Starbucks’ Community Management Skills

Starbucks Responds to Customers Partaking in Social Media Backlash Over New Drink

Last week, Starbucks rolled out a somewhat unconventional new type of coffee and people are not too pleased. Demonstrating effective community management skills, the multinational coffeehouse chain has recently been interacting and engaging with their (typically) loyal following.

For context, the new coffee and olive oil mixture – which Starbucks has branded as Oleato – was unveiled at a dinner at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan. Strategically on the first day of Italian fashion week, the dinner was invitation-only and in attendance was Anna Wintour, editor and chief of Vogue magazine, and featured a performance by Lizzo. The night finished with the guests tasting Oleato in the form of an espresso martini. 

The coffee was available for the public to enjoy on Wednesday and, while it’s still too early to see what those that have tasted it think, the speculations on Starbucks’ social media, and Instagram in particular, are quite critical. Many customers expressed their frustrations in the comments criticising Starbucks for not introducing more sugar-free syrups and flavours to their menu, and instead creating a coffee and olive oil mixture that “no one asked for.” Starbucks’ social media team engaged with these outraged customers, fighting fire with warm, understanding replies.

[Image Creds: Starbucks Instagram Comments]

While an overwhelming majority of the comments were negative, some users were looking forward to tasting the coffee and olive oil combination. Similarly, Starbucks were on hand to respond, giving the brand a human, relatable online presence.

[Image Creds: Starbucks Instagram Comments]

Whatever your opinion is on the controversial ‘Oleato’, this is a strong example of how to interact as a brand, engaging with your community – as best practice – when dealing with both positive and negative sentiment online.

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