32 beans.” The “ Stop Starbucks ” campaign was instigated by grassroots social advocacy organization Brave New Films. Brave New Films is just one of many organizations that have emerged as pioneers in voicing discontent through social media. Environmental activist group Greenpeace has also utilized the open nature of social media to mobilize a protest against Nestle for using palm oil in their products. The use of palm oil has been documented as a source of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and endangered species loss (McCarthy). In protest of this practice, Greenpeace encouraged individuals to change their Facebook profile pictures to unflattering caricatures of the Nestle logo and express their discontent on the Nestle Facebook fan page. Nestle posted what some critics deemed an inappropriate response in asking protestors to stop using altered versions of its logo. Threatened by an infringement of the “open” nature of social media giving consumers the power to criticize and even defame brands, the public erupted in outrage and berated Nestle for trying to stifle criticism and negative messages about the brand. The Nestle debacle highlights the downside of operating such a public forum to welcome consumer comments and the consequences to mismanaging social media strategies. Like Nestle/Greenpeace, the Stop Starbucks campaign also generated attention from several blogs that reported tha t “rebels hijacked the c ampaign ” and Starbucks lost control of their messages. However, the story did not garner much attention outside this limited network of bloggers and had little effect on diminishing Starbucks’ strong community presence. Social media manager for Starbucks, Matthew Guiste, says: “We’re the first to admit that we don’t control the conversation about Starbucks. The bad news for [the Stop Starbucks] campaign is that neither do they. Ultimately the community decides and we be lieve that’s a beautiful thing” (Ochman).
33 Analysis/Conclusions Starbucks has built its social media presence not as marketing channel, but rather as a way to engage directly with consumers in a non-threatening way. As mentioned by Kozinets, consumers are resistant to marketers who clearly and directly seek to influence their attitudes and purchase decisions (Kozinets et al.). Starbucks did not “sell” anything to their fans and followers at first and focused on building its communities. The company shared pictures of CEO Howard S chultz’s trip to Rwanda and encouraged users to share their own moments around their favorite drink on the Starbucks Facebook page as a way to develop trust within the community. In social media communities, companies can gain permission to market to their fans and followers only once they have built a certain level of trust through content sharing and engagement (Jantsch).
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