💡 Open Idea: Let Baristas Take Over Your Coffee Shop’s Social Media
Let’s explore an idea: giving baristas a longer creative leash with social media takeovers.
If you have a retail location like a coffee shop or tasting room, nothing beats interacting with incredible customers every day. It’s been a few years since I’ve worked behind the bar, but I can remember the relationships I made there as if it were yesterday.
As we’ve discussed before, that relational / emotional connection is one of the most powerful forces for coffee businesses. Emotionally engaged customers spend more, more frequently, and stick around longer.
That’s why I’ve long been an advocate for including baristas and other staff in social media by featuring them in photography, and even having fun “get to know the team” posts. But these staff-focused posts have become commonplace, and it’s led me to wonder: is it enough in 2021?
What if you let baristas create their own images and captions, ones that capture their unique personalities, and post those instead?
How It Works: Taking Down The Invisible Brand Wall
Posting featured images of baristas is nice, but it still puts a glass barrier between them and your customers. It can feel guarded, like the true personalities of the team are censured by the brand’s need to present a certain image.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing — I am all for creating a powerful brand message and sticking to it. But when your business is built on smiles and relationships, the more guarded you, the wider the emotional chasm you preserve.
Offering creative control within reasonable limits to your team is an opportunity to create a more personal, interesting, and captivating social media experience for your customers.
Think of it like a brand takeover, where an influencer allows a brand (vis versa) to help run the show for a few days. It’s a fun way to change things up and show your audience another, more authentic side of your team.
The Upside: Stronger Relationships In-Store and Online
The advantages to trying this out a few times per year are pretty straightforward:
- Breaking up the social media monotony. Your most loyal customers know your patterns. They get your language and photography style and are attuned to the line you draw between being too cold and too emotional. Letting a barista disrupt those patterns — even if just slightly — keeps things interesting.
- Stronger sales via Instagram Shopping. Give your baristas the ability to recommend products and make ecommerce sales with their posts. Shoutout to Metrilo for the guide on how to set up shoppable posts.
- Drawing casual customers into your relationship web. Most social media followers appreciate what you do, but they don’t have a particularly strong pull to your shop over others. Giving these casual coffee lovers some more authentic candy to chew on will help you stand out from your more guarded competition.
- Bringing your memorable in-person experience into the digital world. Selling coffee online is hard. Everyone has an ecommerce store, but the magic happens in the cafe. Bringing baristas into the creative zone helps you capture what makes your shop so special and translate it into an online experience.
- Team empowerment. This is an under-rated upside. If you’ve been a manager for long, you know that it’s essential to demonstrate to your team that you trust them and want them to participate and invest on deeper levels. This is a great way to do that.
How to Test This Idea in One Month
Here’s how I imagine giving baristas more creative control might go:
- Assign a trusted team member a week for their takeover. Pick a week where you don’t have any big announcements to make, and give the barista plenty of time in advance.
- Place some creative guardrails. Encourage the barista to embody your brand message — they are a representative of your business, after all — and clearly outline things that are not allowed, like profanity, suggestive language, or inside jokes with specific customers.
- Have them plan 5-7 posts. Have them ideate their photography (they don’t have to take the actual pictures) and write out their captions in a document or spreadsheet.
- Review each post carefully. Check for brand alignment. Double-check that nothing said might be oddly interpreted by customers. Make adjustments where necessary.
- Announce the takeover. Introduce your customers to the idea from the official brand perspective. Give them a quick idea of what’s to come: greater creative control from one of your team members.
- Go-live week. Whether you post the day of, or schedule things out in a management tool, get each post out on time, and make sure the barista is aware when posts go live.
What do you think? Is this something you’ll try?
If so, make sure to let us know how it goes 😊
Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden
Freelance Coffee Marketer
I'm a coffee industry native who works with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating marketing strategies.
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