How to bring the in-store experience online with social: An interview with Philz Coffee
Coffee is the start of the day for so many. Meaning coffee brands have a pretty big target audience. Being able to recreate the positive experience those people have at their regular coffee shop on social is a unique accomplishment. And that just so happens to be the mission of Philz Coffee, according to Jolie Meschi, Philz’s Marketing Communications Manager.
“One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to carry the interactions that our customers have in-store, online.”
Jolie has been with the company for six years and throughout that time has been responsible for running the coffee chain’s social platforms, influencer strategy and PR. She’s even dabbled in the brand’s events management. Across its three main social channels, Philz has a combined following of just over a hundred thousand. Those hundred thousand online coffee-lovers are reflective of close to 60 stores in over 50 communities.
“If you can’t connect with people face-to-face, the next best thing is to be on devices where they are,” Jolie said. “It allows us to bridge that gap and reach those customers anywhere.”
As Philz has grown and expanded into new markets, the importance of social media marketing has become a vital part of its business. Even more so during the pandemic. With that comes the task of demonstrating social’s value as an arm of marketing to the rest of the company. It’s a task that Jolie welcomes.
“Social media has become the go-to spot for customers to give us feedback, whether they realize it or not,” she said. “Showing people how you can create authentic relationships through engaging posts or sharing content that tells the story of the brand, then showing the impact it’s having on our customers is really important.”
Here’s a look at three key ways Jolie is social’s biggest champion within her organization.
1. Build trust across the business
Building trust is an important part of any relationship. For social media managers, it means creating contact points with different departments across your organization. According to Sprout data, 47% of all social marketers, from interns to the C-suite, say developing a strategy that supports their organization’s goals is their number one challenge. That may be due in part to a lack of trust and close working relationships within organizations.
Luckily, for Jolie that’s not the case. While companies across the world are adjusting to remote collaboration, trust-building was already a pretty natural thing for the team at Philz.
“It’s in our culture,” Jolie said. “It’s trying to create contact points throughout the week, throughout the day, with different departments, whether it’s our recruiting team to check in on what they need from us just so that they understand it’s a revolving door. I’m always here to help them with their needs.”
Because cross-collaborative relationships are such a normalized part of the culture, it’s easy for Jolie to schedule consistent, weekly meetings to share feedback and dive into what’s working (and what’s not) on every front of the business.
“I definitely feel like I get more buy-in when I have face time and one-on-one conversations and relationships with people in other departments,” Jolie said.
The strong working relationships mean team members feel comfortable being a partner to her.
“You’d be surprised how many people I get emails from saying, ‘Hey, do you want to post this on social?’ Or, ‘Hey, I’m speaking at this event in case anybody’s interested in learning about that on social!’” she said. “It makes my job a lot easier when people are engaged.”
Jolie discovered another benefit by embracing a less orthodox approach to fostering trust between team members, prior to pandemic.
“Every quarter we actually get to work on bar with our baristas,” she explains. “It really builds trust across all levels of the company, and also kind of levels the playing field.”
They also made it a habit to stay up to date on the in-store experience in order to adjust. Taking their laptops into the cafe, working from any shop they live near—that kind of connection behind the scenes is reflected in front of their customers. With a grassroots, personalized approach to marketing, Philz has become the fun environment that coffee-lovers know the brand to be. Now it’s up to Jolie to ensure that same environment remains on social, despite the limitations of a post-COVID world.
Try this: Scheduling consistent touch bases is one way to communicate. But fostering an open workflow creates the environment a company needs to go beyond consistency and build trust. If you have brick and mortar stores, spend time with the people behind your in-store experience. Even if operations are different now, there’s still valuable insight to gain in order to build the kind of community and understanding that informs strategy.
2. Share what success looks like
A natural extension of the cross-collaborative environment Jolie has built is communicating insights more broadly. Her social team of two often shares out reporting on social, email and all digital efforts. And at Philz, success is all about progress.
“It can be difficult in the retail coffee space to find a benchmark of good social metrics,” Jolie says. “Obviously, we love to see high engagement, we love to see customers commenting, saving, sharing posts. But to really prove that we’re moving the needle on our end, we usually benchmark against ourselves.”
With that focus in mind, she makes it a point to tie back every win to hard sales in the store so she can help others involved in the work visualize if and how they’ve moved the needle. This way, when her team shares results, they’re able to celebrate wins as a company.
“At the end of the campaign, we’ll do a wrap-up,” she explained. “We’ll include customer highlights, then hard data and how it all compares to a similar campaign or the last campaign we did.”
Data shows that 39% of marketers struggle to demonstrate the importance of social media marketing to the rest of their organization. The numbers show that even in a time when social is the most accessible and most engaged with channel where consumers reach brands, its value is downplayed because of the historical disconnect between social and bottom-line business metrics. Jolie conquers that challenge at Philz by sharing insights regularly and widely.
She admits it can be overwhelming to maintain a regular cadence for breaking down campaign data and sharing it out. But the environment of open communication at Philz makes it easier. Sharing social results went along with other project update schedules their team had in place in different departments.
“There’s usually a kickoff meeting, check-in meetings, then a wrap-up meeting,” she said. “So we naturally followed the cadence that way. But also tactically, it’s an easier way to digest data.”
Try this: When you wrap each campaign, take all your social metrics and compare that to historical sales. Draw correlations where you’re able in order to tie results back to hard sales in the store, for example. Then set a quarterly, cross-functional meeting to share those insights, not only informing but educating other members of your team.
3. Tap social for innovation
There’s no feedback forum more honest than social media. It’s where consumers refuse to hold back.
“They assume that somebody isn’t on the other side looking at it,” Jolie says. “So it’s really satisfying to respond to somebody like that, in a positive, courteous way. They’ll immediately change their tone and attitude because they realize there is a human there that actually cares.”
That’s all people ever really want, right? To be heard. Which makes it extra satisfying to Jolie when they’re able to gather social feedback and turn it around into action items for Philz.
“One of the biggest things that has come from a collection of social media feedback is that we have a slow-down coffee process, and the wait time can be a bit longer than a normal coffee shop,” Jolie explains. “We heard all about it on social—people running late, missing buses, missing trains. When we were trying to figure out ways to innovate and make ourselves faster and more accessible to all people, that really helped birth our mobile app.”
Listening to your community on social helps you drive innovation and enables companies to think outside of their own perspective. It not only gives you the opportunity to repair rifts in your relationships with customers, but drives social media’s impact on business. Jolie’s mobile app example illustrates how powerful social is in product development and improvement.
During the pandemic, while many companies grapple with how to leverage social to stay connected, Philz found the perfect way to meet coffee-lovers where they are. The team launched an IGTV series called “Philz At Home,” where team members show how they uniquely prepare coffee at home, continuing to inspire customers and meet them where they are.
Try this: Aligning your brand with consumer needs in a two-step process. Start by meeting with team members to understand their goals and department needs. Then pass social feedback on to those team members and say, “Hey, you’re trying to solve for X and I’ve heard a few people on social talking about this. Would you like me to share those insights with you?” Invite social into those projects and make its value intrinsic to product and marketing development.
How will you champion the influence of social?
It’s clear that the secret ingredient to championing social at Philz is trust. From team members to customers, Jolie understands that building relationships is a slow, but rewarding process (kind of like great coffee).
Her story comes down to the importance of companies embracing social media and a social-first environment. She wears many hats, taking her time to comb through data, listen to her customers and communicate with her peers, but every step of the way she and her team have found balance in work, trust and life.
The results aren’t just happy coffee lovers. The result is getting to see social, and the powerful insights it provides, take center stage.
To connect with other social marketers who are always on, join our Facebook groups, The Social Marketers’ Exchange or The Agency Exchange. And share with us if you’re planning to try any of these tips.
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