Social Media Ideas for Espresso & Coffee Houses

Are Your Baristas Rock Stars?

With Coffee Fest Seattle approaching this week, we wanted to share some ideas on how to drive sales in coffee houses using social media.

The explosion of independent espresso and coffee houses across North America in the last ten years is phenomenal. Over the last few years we’ve seen top barista competitions at not only coffee business conventions, but also at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

Most independent coffee shops have relied on word-of-mouth, traditional advertising and the ubiquitous buy-ten cards to build their business over the years. There’s a huge opportunity now to jump on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and increase sales.

How can you use social media to build your coffee business?

We’ve got several ideas. But first, we want to direct you to this article on the ROI and Best Practices of Social Media in Hospitality.

Okay, how do you increase business by making Barista Rock Stars?

* First, set up your own social network accounts, if you haven’t already. We can email you good advice on that if you need it – just click here.

* Market to your customers that you are online in social networks. Use a poster at the counter and get it on your website. Invite them to follow you by saying you’ll announce special deals once a week. By the way – customers should have it easy to enter your virtual door.

* Introduce your talented staff both online and in-store. Ask your staff if they are willing to have a work-related Twitter account, and if they are, share that with your customers.

* Turn your baristas into online Rock Stars. Every customer of yours has a favorite employee on your staff. Encourage your staff that is participating, to build online relationships (using their work Twitter) with their fans. This is all about leverage and we’re going to the next step.

* During the week, take pictures of each baristas specialty drinks and share them online – with the work-Twitter account of the maker. Ask followers to rate them.

* Set up a competition with your customers to vote for the best barista at your shop online – by offering them something valuable. Maybe it’s a week or two of free beverages. But here’s how you have them vote – they vote by bringing their friends who aren’t customers in to sign up for your buy-ten cards (you can keep track by using a pen and paper grid). Post the results daily on your social networks. Make the contest run for a month – as new customers join, they’ll refer their friends! You know the baristas will be encouraging the customers to vote for them and you should offer the winning barista something of value too.

Barista David Sarah Jane Zeke
Wed .... 10 ..... 7 ..... 12 ... 5
Thu ...... 6 ...... 0 ...... 9 .... 7


Sound like a crazy idea? Sure, you bet. But it’s crazy ideas that create change. We’ve got other suggestions too, like what Starbucks did a few months ago with their free pastry/buy a beverage coupon, shared only on social media. By the way, that promo only cost Starbucks $12,000 and it grossed them $500,000 in one day.

Use your staff – they’re likely young and highly creative. Have a sit-down and ask them for ideas on how to use social media to drive up sales. I’m pretty sure you’ll see positive results.

We’d love your feedback. After all, social media is all about engagement and dialogue. Do you have any great experiences using social media? We’d love to hear about it.

Still not convinced that social media can change your business for the better? Watch this. offers clients digital community management consulting and services across North America.

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Comment by Jeffrey J Kingman on October 9, 2009 at 3:00pm
Right. Unfortunately Barista Exchange as a platform, unlike FOHBOH (another based platform for the restaurant industry), does not show the number of times a blog is viewed. FohBoh does.

I use Wordpress for our company blog and can immediately see visits, where they come from, what they look at, and what search terms are being used to drive views.
Comment by John Walker on October 9, 2009 at 2:03pm
I have read and re-read this story, and similar ones on the same topic.
Slowly I am starting to 'get it'.
Many of us born in the 50's or so can take a while catching up with the faster rate of change. Thank you for being patient, with us.
How can you messure the responce to this blog?
After three weeks there has been no comments. But that doesnt mean it hasnt hit the mark with hundreds of people, does it?

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