How Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte Ruled Social Media
For many, the fall season is marked not by the falling of the leaves or the chill in the air; it’s marked by the emergence of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Just how popular is the Pumpkin Spice Latte? It’s the number one selling seasonal drink of all time. The coffee giant, Starbucks, created this famed coffee cocktail and enjoys some serious success from its widespread love.
Starbucks has sold over 200 million pumpkin spice lattes since the drink's origin in 2003. They’ve been able to capitalize on the success of the beverage and leverage its popularity into a powerful social media campaign. The popular drink has been nicknamed the “PSL” and has been posted about all over social media sites by fans.
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) September 7, 2015
The Pumpkin Spice Latte sees so much social media buzz that Starbucks capitalized on the popularity and created its own Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts last year. Starbucks took the popularity even further by creating a Twitter campaign for its emergence, tagging it #spotthespice game.
The campaign engaged users to tweet for the opportunity to get their beloved beverage first this season. Starbucks also launched a Tumblr game board for fans to win the early beverage password. This gave fans a reason to interact with the brand, and users responded by posting and spreading the news.
#PSL Madness Arrives
Starbucks has done an unparalleled job of engaging its community of PSL lovers, garnering huge followings on multiple platforms. Moreover, they’ve given fans access to rewards and promotions, which keeps them engaged and also helps Starbucks spread their influence.
When users retweet or tag their friends, they are broadening the social media community and essentially advertising for Starbucks. It’s a perfect equation that makes both parties happy.
Dear Diary – today, I was awesome. #TellMeSomethingIDidntKnow #FreshInk #MotorcycleDiaries A photo posted by Pumpkin Spice Latte (@therealpsl) on
This success has not gone unnoticed—Starbucks has created such a strong following for the flavor that other brands are trying to capitalize on the trend. Today, you can find the pumpkin spice flavor at just about every corner with brands like Dunkin Donuts, Panera, Hershey’s, Pepperidge Farms, Nestle, Coffee Mate, Kellog’s, Chobani, and Oreo all jumping on the bandwagon.
Starbucks even won a Shorty Award last year for their Tumblr social media marketing success (they were also a finalist for their Twitter account). Posts on the Starbucks PSL social media accounts are very cleverly marketed towards millennials, who dominate the platforms. Naturally, the posts are witty, creative, and visually appealing.
Starbucks has very clearly invested in their PSL social media presence and the hard work is quite evident. Take a look....
Pumpkin Spice Latte By The Numbers:
- Instagram - @TheRealPSL - 18.9k followers
- Twitter - @TheRealPSL - 114k followers
- Tumblr - The Real PSL - 13k “notes" on one post
Social Media Lessons:
- Create profiles for your brand
- Know your audience/ community
- Give your community a reason to engage with you
- Reap the benefits