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Starbucks leads the charge for Twitter-enabled mobile commerce

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ –A Twitter executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall Summit dished about the social giant’s first stab at mobile commerce with Starbucks as one of the initial retailers using a tweet-to-buy program that integrates tightly with the coffee chain’s popular mobile loyalty program.

During “The Future of Mobile Retail – The Intersection of Twitter and Commerce” keynote session, an executive from Twitter spoke about the different steps that retailers are taking at blending mobile and social together to drive commerce. With Starbucks’ new “Tweet-a-Coffee” program, it is no surprise that the program incorporates the retailer’s bar code-based loyalty program that has paved the way for in-store mobile payment investments.

“This morning Starbucks just launched a gifting program, which is kind of the beginning of Twitter commerce that essentially enables users to send a $5 coffee gift card to another Twitter user through a tweet,” said Andrew Aviza, senior account of retail and commercial partnerships at Twitter, San Francisco.

“The program’s title is ‘Tweet-a-coffee,’ and again it’s stressing this point that Starbucks really wanted to drive home – ‘We want to treat people as people and people as loyal customers, not necessarily just numbers,’” he said.

“We’re getting to this world of real-time curated commerce, and it’s coming rapidly at Twitter.”

Mobile, social jolt
Yesterday Starbucks launched a new beta mobile-fueled social media program called “Tweet-a-Coffee” that integrates with the coffee giant’s loyalty program to let consumers send gift cards via Twitter.

To send a gift card, consumers sync their Starbucks loyalty program account with their Twitter account. Consumers then send a $5 gift card by firing off a tweet to the @tweetacoffee handle and the recipient’s Twitter handle.

Recipients can then redeem the offer by loading the gift card straight to the Starbucks’ mobile app, which is scanned at the point-of-sale by an employee.

The offer can also be redeemed by showing the email confirming the gift card on a mobile device or by printing the email.

Starbucks is also offering a free $5 gift card to the first 100,000 consumers that tweet to send a gift card using a Visa card.

The new Starbucks program builds on a similar campaign that Starbucks used this summer to drive in-store traffic.

The coffee giant ran a Twitter campaign to promote Frappuccinos and drive in-store traffic at specific times in the day in specific markets. The brand sent out tweets about the weather in certain markets to ultimately drive in-store traffic.

According to Mr. Aviza, the coffee giant saw a 68 percent increase in in-store check-ins during the summer campaign.

“What’s really unique about this example and how the brands are creating these hashtag campaigns that are now transcending all social platforms is that Starbucks is treating their customers as people, and not necessarily as just numbers,” Mr. Aviza said.

Mr. Aviza presenting

Mr. Twitter transactions
Since hiring a vice president of commerce earlier this year, the Starbucks program is one of the first brand campaigns on Twitter that the social media site will use in convincing marketers to allocate more ad spend towards Twitter with campaigns aimed at closing the loop.

American Express also ran a similar tweet-to-buy program earlier this year that let cardmembers tweet at a handle to buy products from brands such as Amazon, Sony and Microsoft (see story).

What is unique about Starbucks’ program though is that it integrates directly into the point-of-sale system and points to the growth in mobile and social in triggering quick sales.

Given Twitter’s roots as a mobile-first company, it should come as no surprise that the company is seeing 75 percent of users accessing the company’s mobile properties.

These mobile users are also action-driven.

Consumers that primarily use mobile to interact with Twitter are 46 percent more likely to compose original tweets and are 44 percent more likely to click on links in tweets, according to stats from Mr. Aviza.

Mobile-primary users are also 66 percent more likely to retweet content than desktop-primary users.

“These examples of tweeting to buy, tweeting to give are the first stabs at what is happening with mobile commerce and being able to actually transact is something that we’re rapidly in the direction of and is where the company is moving,” Mr. Aviza said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York