Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lessons Learned at Starbucks

Starbucks, the Seattle-based company that has forever changed the way people look at a cup of coffee, to be paranoid. But they are, thanks to their employees and a blog-based web site that enables conversations among employees and customers. A quick visit to reveals brief missives, musings and rants about company policies, practices, customer behaviour and just anything else having to do with the unique brand of coffee culture that Starbucks made famous. You won’t mistake this for a company newsletter.

You could read about the Starbucks barista from Minnesota who was fired for trying to unionise employees. Not to worry, though: he got his job back. Starbucks officials were quoted on the site as saying that the termination and reinstatement had nothing to do with the effort to unionise. It may, however, have had something to do with the coverage the event received on the Starbucks gossip blog.

This story demonstrates what employees and customers can do when they decide to huddle together for a little conversation about your company.

What did Starbucks learn from this experience?

They received a fast lesson on the first three rules of social media for business.

It’s unique to Starbucks or is it happening in other places, too? It’s happening everywhere. A quick click to or and you’ll see restless, wild or world-weary employees ranting about their bosses and the working conditions at their companies. What you say inside your company is never too far away from becoming a feature on someone’s blog.

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