MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW – On the 28th of October Starbucks coffee announced a surprise partnership with Twitter, enabling gift certificates to be exchanged via tweets. With little or no difficulty, the Tweet-A-Coffee program will allow spur-of-the-moment acts of generosity between friends and will enable users to connect with people they would love to meet for a cup of coffee, but will probably never get the chance to. By simply tweeting another Twitter user, a $5 gift card can be transferred.
The larger significance of this partnership is that companies such as Starbucks are gradually beginning to see Twitter as a potential e-commerce platform. Tweet-A-Coffee requires users to sync their twitter accounts with their Starbucks accounts. Having done this, users can simply tweet ‘@tweetacoffee to’ followed by a friend’s Twitter handle. To begin with Starbucks are only offering $5 denominations, redeemable by printing out the eGift or loading it to a personal Starbucks digital card. In an effort to make the service as efficient as possible, Twitter and Starbucks have made the system smart enough to recognize that RTs and @replies to an eGift do not necessarily mean a user is intending to send another gift.
Adam Brotman, Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer hopes that the service will have such a low barrier of entry that it becomes difficult to resist, hoping that Tweet-A-Coffee will naturally foster in-the-moment instances of users “thanking someone or acknowledging an act of kindness” with a Starbucks eGift. To support the launch, the company is giving the first 100,000 customers who use the eGift tweet service a $5 eGift card for themselves.
For Starbucks, the potential benefits of Tweet-A-Coffee are huge; the service will give the brand a new digital and social avenue through which to interact with consumers. A secondary benefit is that the service will probably drive business to Starbucks stores and may entice more people to use Starbucks’ digital tools. When commenting on the potential for Tweet-A-Coffee Brotman stated: “We view it as the first step toward many things we can do with Twitter that are commerce related".
Despite a few teething issues Tweet-A-Coffee represents a novel and innovative campaign that will encourage engagement with the brand as well as driving sales of Starbucks products. The initiative forms part of a broader trend of brands utilising Twitter as an e-commerce platform. Other examples include American Express, which initiated a program that allowed its cardholders to make purchases via a hashtag