What is it about?

Many companies are engaging with various social media tools, but what do they get out of it? Firstly, it’s a place for them to market their products and brand. Secondly, it’s a place for them to engage with and learn more about their customers. This makes sense for companies whose main presence is online, but what about traditional bricks and mortar stores? This paper looks at exactly that through a case study of Starbucks. What is Customer Knowledge Management (CKM)? CKM is defined as the capturing, sharing, control and transfer of knowledge relating to customers for an organisation. It can be broken down in three ways: 1. For customers: information pushed out from the organisation to inform customers about products, discounts etc. 2. From customers: customer feedback and ideas 3. About customers: knowledge about customer’s needs and preferences How are Starbucks doing this through Social Media? Starbucks are using mediums like Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare to engage with customers on all three of the above levels. Not only do they announce new or special products, they also quickly act on customer’s complaints and compliments. By participating on these sites the store can quash rumours and measure reaction to product and service changes. Starbucks have also developed their own corporate discussion forum, MyStarbucksIdea, a place for customers to ask questions and make suggestions to the organisation. In the first two months since launch, 41,000 ideas were contributed, some of which have since been launched and now feature as part of the company’s product and service range. These examples show how a bricks and mortar organisation can utilise social media channels to better communicate with their customers, not only to market existing wares but also to develop new ideas.

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Why is it important?

It demonstrates how bricks and mortar organisations can harness the powers of social media marketing.


Proud to have won the Outstanding Paper Award from Emerald due to this work.

Dr Snehasish Banerjee
University of York

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This page is a summary of: Customer knowledge management via social media: the case of Starbucks, Journal of Knowledge Management, March 2013, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/13673271311315196.
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