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Okay, so Starbucks isn’t exactly hosting a presentation on “Social Media 101,” but if you watch carefully, there any many companies that are excelling with social media in ways that you easily can too. Large corporations often have expansive budgets and resources for their social media efforts that small businesses don’t have access to. However, smaller companies, especially those just starting out, can watch, analyze, and learn from these social media giants. Replicating strategies is a great way to take advantage of their large budgets and downscale them to something that works for you. These are three companies you should be taking lessons from and why.


Staples has an endearing social media strategy that allows you to truly connect with them. When you scroll through their feed, it feels like they “get” you. You’ll laugh at their humor, appreciate their philanthropic efforts, and be inspired by their creativity. For example, on the 4th of July they created a video of fireworks out of push pins. Top things you should be learning from Staples?

  • Be funny. Be “human” and show your lighter side. Your audience will appreciate you for it.
  • Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your resources.
  • Be valuable. Share useful tips and articles that your audience can actually use.
  • Give back. Staples uses #StaplesforStudents for school supply initiatives and gives scholarships which the public really appreciates and interacts well with. On a smaller budget, you could give a portion of proceeds to a meaningful cause or host employee volunteer days.
  • Utilize hashtag campaigns. Hashtags can catch on quickly and help you to track your reach. You may even fall in line with something that is already trending, rising your popularity even more quickly on the web.


Zappos’ social media strategy takes customer engagement to another level. They are funny, engaging, and customer-service savvy. They are not shy about their humorous opinions, and while they often post products from their website, that’s not their only focus. They have a strategy worth emulating and here is what you can do too:

  • Be responsive. Answer all questions and comments, the good and the bad. Zappos engages in light-hearted conversations with their customers online, making them feel more like an understanding friend than a corporation.
  • Have a personality. Zappos certainly takes advantage of their opportunity to be funny. Find your brand’s “personality” whether it be funny, sweet or sarcastic and let it shine through.
  • Share some knowledge. Like Staples, Zappos shares information that their customers can utilize, and more specifically, things they can do with their products. Have a broken flip flop? Zappos shared a useful temporary fix until your next pair arrives. Be helpful to your customers and let them look to you for information and advice.zappos-review.jpg
  • Create an overall business approach that is social media-worthy. Be a business that customer rave about. They will naturally create a strong social media presence for you. You’ll have strong customer retention and gain new business in the process. Zappos also shares particularly great customer reviews they receive online or via email in an image format on their social media site.
  • Partner up. Zappos partners with other companies to run contests and giveaways and you should too! This is a great opportunity to share each other’s followers and expertise in the social media world.
  • Be visual: Images are ruling social media right now. Use good strong images to portray your brand’s message and products. Get creative!


In addition to their enticing, humorous and attractive images Starbucks offers much more than that on their social media platforms and here’s how you can too:sb-post-285x300.jpg

  • Give customers a voice. Perhaps the best thing Starbucks offers online is a voice for their customers, asking them what they want and actually delivering. They also often share great customer posts on their own page.
  • Offer freebies and exclusives. Starbucks gives exclusive information and offers to social media followers like how to get free beverages and special discounts.
  • Do your part. Starbucks recognizes that it plays a large role in the economy and does what it can to help, offering job fair and interview announcements on social media. Smaller companies may not be at this level, but there are ways to do your part in society. Reducing your carbon footprint, shopping local, etc. can benefit the environment and your local economy and don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back and publicize it!
  • Keep up with the times. Make your social platforms fun and current by being aware of days related to your business (Starbucks recently acknowledged National Iced Tea Day), recent events, and other noteworthy happenings. Create great images using free tools like Pixlr or use quotes to commemorate.
  • Share an occasional DIY. Showing customers ways to “do it yourself” is a great way to engage people that may not be the everyday customer but could be potential customers. Starbucks would obviously rather have people purchasing drinks at their store, but realize that some people like the taste created from home, maybe even at a lower cost, so they share recipes that give people the Starbucks flavor without purchasing it from them. These DIYs also may require coffee lovers to use other products sold by the company. Genius.

Other noteworthy companies with something to offer:

  • Allstate: Their “Mayhem” TV personality took on a life of its own and has its own Twitter account. This funny profile takes followers through life’s crazy moments. They have a way of making you want to know what they’ll post next. There is always a good laugh with “Mayhem.” Lesson learned? Be interested enough to make people want to know more about your brand and what’s coming next.
  • Freshly Picked: This SharkTank success has a unique way of getting their name out there. If you want to partner with them for a giveaway, they will send their pricey baby moccasins free of charge to the winner and you do all the advertising. In turn, you get the benefit of using their big name in your giveaway and don’t have to front the cost of the prize. A win-win. The take-away? Be creative in ways that other people and businesses can advertise for you for free. Brand reps are a great example of this.
  • HBO: For people who can’t or don’t want to pay for the service, HBO offers an episode or two from certain series for people to watch for free from their social media platforms, according to Fast Company. What can we learn? Offer something for free that makes people want more of what your business has to offer.

Taking note of what these large companies are doing on social media is more valuable than people may realize. They have resources and insight that many small businesses don’t have access to, and if you pay close attention you can have access to some of that same information by watching and emulating their approaches. By following these tips, you will have increased engagements and start growing your social media presence in a way that you may not have thought of before. Try something new, and take the opportunity to learn from the best.