With more 3.6 million fans, Starbucks recently blew past Coca-Cola to become the the most popular brand on Facebook, gaining nearly 200,000 fans in just one week by using popular promotions, according to statistics from Inside Facebook.
Starbucks achieved this feat by combining an engaging Facebook page, effective ads on that page, and numerous free-food giveaway promotions that resonated with fans, the analysis said. These tactics enabled Starbucks to pick up almost 200,000 Facebook fans during the week of July 19, 2009.
A detailed examination of Starbucks fan trends showed several spikes in the number of new fans between July 18 and July 21, when the company was running a free pastry giveaway. Fans who printed out a coupon could redeem a free pastry with the purchase of any beverage.
Earlier in July, Starbucks gave away free ice cream through its Facebook application. In May, the company put up new advertising posters is six cities, asking people to spot them, take photos, and post them on Twitter. These promotions were follow-ups to an election-day promotion last fall that offered free coffee to voters.
A recent report from Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group rated Starbucks as the #1 most socially engaged brand, and suggested that such social media efforts are helping the company’s bottom line.
This popularity of Starbucks giveaways is consistent with a general fervor for food coupons, especially during the recession. Research from RetailMeNot showed that food items remain among the most downloaded online coupons, and Mobilize Systems revealed that mobile phone users would like to see more coupons for snack foods.
The data also tracks with anecdotal reports that consumers support the Starbucks brand, but find the products too pricey during the recession. This explains, in part, why food giveaways and coupons have the appeal they do.
Inside Facebook also conducted a recent analysis of the top auto brands on Facebook and found that only one brand, Porsche, has more than 500,000 fans. Following Porsche are Audi at #2 and Ford Mustang at #3.
Inside Facebook noted that these relatively small numbers of fans indicate there is room for growth and improvement in the automotive space on Facebook. Though auto brands have traditionally been heavy sharers of car commercials and photos with their friends, they rarely update their walls and may be missing potential opportunities to reach their supporters in other ways.
Facebook recently passed MySpace as the top social network in the US in terms of unique visitors, and its growth continues, especially among older demographics.