I go to Starbucks everyday. I have two that I frequent - my during the week Starbucks and my weekend Starbucks.
I'm not a high-roller Starbucks customer. During the week its a tall coffee at $1.65 per day and on the weekends its a $2.11 grande. High-rollers go for lattes and frappuccinos and mochas and those types of drinks.
But it doesn't matter because when you walk into a Starbucks you're welcomed. The staff - called "partners" - know me. By product. By my name.
Its a great way to kick off the day. Plus the product is almost always excellent. Brick and mortar Starbucks get it. They (at least they present a grand illusion) know how important their customers - nickel and dimers like myself or high-rollers - are to their business.
But it goes beyond walking into the place. Starbucks has developed an incredible digital world based on the philosophy that social media is about relationships not marketing. They connect with customers outside the four walls of a store and provide truly deep online engagement.
Starbucks touts themselves as content archaeologists finding content that adds value, creates meaning to connect people with information that resonates on a community level. That's global community, by the way.
While I'm not paid to shill for Starbucks, I was impressed by Social Media Influence 2010 conference keynoter Alexandra Wheeler, Digital Director at Starbucks. In her presentation, Wheeler takes us on a labyrinthine journey of Starbucks' digital media, including their philosophy on how to make social media truly social.