Coffee drinkers are everywhere but coffee lovers and aficionados are a special breed. And there are lots of them at pretty much all the Starbucks stores I’ve visited. It’s why when I logged onto Starbucks free WiFi in the US and get taken to a start page that is filled with pretty easy-going and interesting information about news, weather, local events, etc., I found something missing on this day of social networks. Yeah, a social network.
Granted Facebook has a presence on just about every social network out there (like Twitter) and an old school mailing list, there is nothing that allows people to share about their experience in the store. Something that allows the local customers to connect to get to know the baristas, share tips and drinks, and even let the store know how much we appreciate them and, from time to time, offer tips. Perhaps, localized deals can be advertised in this manner.
This would help drive sales and merchandising. On top of that, it could create a small community
It would be a special level of social connection not seen before. It’s likely what is being suggested here isn’t a totally new and novel concept but there is only so much reach that corporate so high up can do at the local level. It’s likely many of us have Starbucks accounts and more and more of us are using our mobile devices to conduct our transactions with Starbucks. This social feature would be perfect for mobile.
I see one possible reason why Starbucks or any other corporation might shy away from this: control. You want to make sure that localized social store networks don't get out of control. I'm sure smarter folks than me will have an idea or two about this. Right off the top of my head, it's possible for Starbucks corporate to create strict guidelines on this while providing regulations on how employees on the local level interact and update their store information.
With the way social is going and the growing noise out there, this is quite possibly the best way to foster interests and maintain the small community feel.