Differentiation is not only for education

Today, differentiation in the classroom is one of the hot topics for educators, but it’s also a word used in business to refer to companies trying to differentiate themselves from the competitor! Today’s post is not about the classroom but rather on how two coffee companies differentiate themselves, with the help of social media  Go grab yourself some “joe” and read on!

Coffee and Social Media – One Size (or Brand) Does Not Fit All

If you ask any coffee drinker what they prefer – Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts – I’m pretty certain they will have a strong opinion one way or the other, and they will provide you with their reasons. A quick scroll through Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks’ social media sites and you will see they are very different. The feel and impression each site elicits is unique to that company – each staying consistent with their company’s mission, vision, and image. A couple Facebook posts illustrate this point – images one and two are full of loud color or life-sized cup – that’s DD; images three and four show warmth and connection – Starbucks!

Their Mission Statements and Values

It’s not surprising the social media posts are different for each company – after all, one is all about fun, while the other focuses on inspiring and nurturing the human spirit. Can you guess which one is which?

Dunkin’ Donuts original mission was to “make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores.”. Today, each franchise is allowed to have its own mission statement, but they need to follow the Dunkin’ Brands values and guiding principles:

honesty…transparency…humility…integrity…respectfulness…fairness…responsibility…leadership…innovation…execution…social stewardship…fun.

And fun is definitely what is happening on DD’s social media, as seen on this DD’s YouTube video:

Starbucks’ mission is much different. It is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Their values include:

creating a culture of warmth and belonging…acting with courage…challenging the status quo…being present…connecting with transparency…delivering our best… holding ourselves responsible for results.

One visit to Starbucks’ social media platforms and the message is shared, as this YouTube video demonstrates:

Even though the messages and personalities of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are different and unique to each company, they are similar with one thing – they both, for the most part, are following social media best practices.

Following Social Media Best Practices

Kaplan and Haenlein recommend ten great points for companies to follow when selecting and using social media. In a nutshell (or coffee bean) they are:

  1.  Choose carefully – you must be able to be active on the platforms you select
  2. Make the application your own – show your personality
  3. Ensure activity alignment – keep your message and personality consistent on all platforms
  4. Integrate social media with traditional media – similar to #3
  5. Access for all – make sure your staff has access
  6. Be active –  which ties to #1. You must be interactive – it’s a two-way conversation!
  7. Be interesting – show your true colors – be engaging.
  8. Be humble – it’s ok if customers complain – that’s how you find out how you can improve – and show you care by quickly responding (the reason for #1 and #6)
  9. Be unprofessional – show your human side (but within reason)
  10. Be honest and respect the rules of the game 

Dunkin’ Donuts prides itself on building relationships with their customer. They have that small community feel, even though they are international. In 2012, when discussing social media, DD’s web communication manager, Tyler Cy, stated, “This is not our space, it’s their (customer) space.” Dunkin’ Donuts tries to respond to customer complaints and has a cross-functional team for communications, public relations, and interaction. One thing I noted, however, when I visited the Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page and Twitter site was there were often complaints that were not responded to and the ones that were responded to sounded ‘canned.’ 

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I would have to say Starbucks’ has a leg up on Dunkin’ Donuts with their responses. (See below)

Starbucks also prides itself on building a relationship with their customer, showing they value each person. Howard Schultz, CEO states “…Investing in our coffee, our people and the communities we serve will remain at our core…” A quick look at Starbucks’ social media and it is quickly apparent they mean what they say – they appear to genuinely care about the customer:

Both Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have stayed true to who they are when it comes to promotion. It’s no wonder Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts rank top in social media!

Go get a refill, then comment below which you prefer – Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts…I can’t wait to hear your opinion!