Coffee Bean brews great Facebook engagement without a venti budget

Dennis Yu is the CEO of BlitzMetrics and will speak at the Inside Social Marketing conference in New York City, Dec. 3-4. Yu will moderate an expert panel, “Social Media Metrics: What Does it All Mean?” Register for the conference by clicking here.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has been stirring up Facebook engagement. Local fans have grown by 136 percent and they drove a 560 percent return on investment. How did they do it?

Recognizing that every customer is a local customer, Coffee Bean has been tuning in to the fact that customers are having experiences tied to their actual stores and that these moments manifest themselves in customer photos and other engagement that are natural starting points for brand-consumer dialogs.

They managed social down to the store level, engaging directly with fans, sharing local customer-generated content (like Instagram photos) across their Facebook Places, and more.

Patrice Anderson, Director of eCommerce & Online Marketing, sits down with Dennis Yu to explain.

Dennis: There’s an article in ClickZ about The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf going hyperlocal with its 180+ company-owned locations in the United States.

How do you manage and prioritize all of these locations across Facebook, especially franchises and owned/operated?

Patrice: My team is responsible for company the brand overall and owned stores in the United States. We also manage the company website,, and digital marketing efforts.

We share our learnings with our franchisees as well as the other company owned areas, both positive and negative.

We share our overall calendar and periodically partner on various promotions. Depending upon the location, they are on a slightly different calendar and offer products that are specific to their region.

Dennis: How do you adapt to regional product differences?

Patrice: In some of our non-U.S. locations we have a food offering and beverages that are not available in the United States. The Coffee Bean as you know it, is still there, but there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of localizing the menu for their particular audiences.


Our franchisees will leverage a lot of the visual pieces developed, under our Sr. Creative Director, Ross Patrick. Their teams will add where appropriate and localize the content.

Dennis: How does a franchisee know what to do? We’ve seen this with other guys that we’ve interviewed. They have a central corporate team, but individual franchisees struggle with community management and posting content.

What strategies and rules are in place to help them?

Patrice: We developed social media guidelines for the tools that we’re leveraging across the board to try to give them the best practices. We’ll also share our content calendar.

There may be events that are key in the states that aren’t happening internationally, so they’ll modify accordingly.

Dennis: What other metrics are used to measure success at the corporate and local levels?

Patrice: Our engagement rate. We’re always looking at when we do chats, and the photography flowing from Instagram. Is our volume increasing proportionally and are people engaging with us, more so in terms of posts? Are we seeing a higher number of comments or likes and things of that nature?

Dennis: How do you tie engagement to business results? Obviously cat photos and fun photos may attract more engagement, but they may be left mid-funnel or drive less direct sales as opposed to when you post something that’s promotional, right?

Patrice: We definitely do see that. Through MomentFeed we see all the user-generated photos on Instagram – including the photos that have been tagged to one of our locations even if it is not hashtagged – and when we share those photos to our Facebook pages through MomentFeed, that content actually receives more engagement than something that we may try to promote.

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