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@Tweetacoffee from Starbucks
By: Jennifer Graber
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In 140 characters or less, you can virtually send someone a salted caramel Frappuccino  or a vanilla soy latte. And no, it is not done by pouring the coffee directly into your computer — though some may attempt such a feat. 

Starbucks
 has just launched its @Tweetacoffee program in an effort to develop the e-commerce potential within Twitter. @Tweetacoffee is currently in beta testing in the United States.
 
The @Tweetacoffee program works by sending virtual five-dollar gift certificates via Twitter. All one has to do is tweet out the @Tweetacoffee name and simply add the selected recipient’s Twitter user name. The recipient will be notified to click through a link, and then will be able to redeem the virtual gift certificate in a couple of different ways. The gift certificates can either be printed or used by scanning a barcode on the recipient’s mobile device. To @Tweetacoffee senders must have a Starbucks account (with a credit card) linked to their Twitter account. However, while recipients are required to be a Twitter user, they do not have to have a Starbucks account.
 
Starbucks’ goal for the program is for “customers to develop the habit of spontaneously eGifting each other.” That ultimately means the coffee chain is exploring new avenues in which to boost revenue. The question is whether or not @Tweetacoffee will experience success.
 
The program seems to have real potential, and in the manner that Starbucks had hoped — with spontaneity. Perhaps someone will use it to send a thank you to a client or coworker who was unexpectedly helpful or kind. Or maybe Twitter users will send virtual coffee to a family member for their (forgotten) birthday. This program will likely do best with these spur-of-the-moment type occasions. The jury is still out on whether or not @Tweetacoffee will make any large impact with planned, thought-out giving.
 
There also are some concerns that come along with Starbucks’ new Twitter efforts. What if your Twitter account gets hacked and some wise-cracking hacker decides to send coffee to 1,000 of your closet friends? It will be interesting to see if either Twitter or Starbucks come up with ways to combat fraud. Are there other potential problems that concern you? What are your thoughts in general on Starbucks’ @Tweetacoffee?
 
This collaboration seems to be pretty big for both Starbucks and Twitter, and will likely affect the development of unique revenue boosting methods in the future. First, virtual coffee. What’s next?


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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