6 ways coffee shops can make the most of social media

Editorial Team

6 min read
Barista putting lid on coffee cup

Coffee shops rely heavily on in person customer service to make larger sales and keep customers coming back. But how does a business’ online presence fit into this experience?

Independently owned coffee shops are not known for their social media presence the way retail boutiques or independent artists are. It’s easy for social media to seem like an afterthought when most of a cafe’s profits are from sales that are made in person. With some careful planning, social media can enhance a customer’s experience while boosting the bottom line.  A strong social media strategy for coffee shops should support the work your baristas and coffee sellers already do every day. It should aim to drive sales (beyond the morning coffee), build customer loyalty, and improve brand recognition.

As the world moves increasingly online, it’s more important than ever for small businesses to develop a strategic social media plan. So take a look at six ways coffee shops can use social media to help drive sales, expand brand recognition, and deepen customer loyalty.

1. Advertise new specials or store merch

Most customers show up to a coffee shop already knowing what they want. Getting your customers to try something in the moment can be a tough sell, but social media gives you the chance to catch a customer’s interest before they even enter your store. And product advertisements are great content for social. Snap a nice photo, and add a sumptuous description to entice customers to switch out their regular cup of joe for a specialty latte. 

Social media also offers opportunities to advertise merchandise that can be hard for baristas to upsell customers in the moment. To-go mugs, t-shirts, and equipment for brewing coffee at home are common products cafes sell that might benefit from an extra boost in advertising.   

2. Keep customers up to date with hours and events 

Because of the instantaneous nature of most social media platforms, they can be a good way either to convey urgent information (like inclement weather hours) or capture the last-minute interest of people looking for something to advertise events or specials. Whether you’re simply sampling a new treat or hosting a major event, social media offers a quick and cost effective way to get the word out.  You can also reach a much larger audience base through social than with in-store tactics. Check out Found Coffee’s Instagram for a great example.

3. Push your business’ customer loyalty programs

Some of the challenges of creating a loyalty program for small businesses like coffee shops is keeping track of customers and their rewards and making sure the customers actually utilize the program. Social media can partner well with the Clover Customer Engagement Plus to make your connection to customers reach further and last longer. 

Say, for example, your cafe uses a “buy ten get 1 free” punchcard, Twitter posts can be an easy way of reminding customers to bring their loyalty card with them or to pick up a new one. Or, if you’re using Clover  Promos or Rewards, you can let your customers know how to download and set up the Clover mobile app with a simple Facebook post. Combining Clover Customer Engagement and social media can make it easy to keep customers in the know on how to take advantage of perks.  

4. Link to your website to drive traffic and increase search engine ranking

If your coffee shop has an online store or website, social media can offer a simple way of driving web traffic to your site. Use links in your social posts to direct customers back to your website and make purchasing their favorite coffee beans extra easy. This is a simple, practical way for your team to boost site visits–and in-shop visits. Beyond increasing traffic and sales from existing customers to your shop, getting active in social and linking to your site can help prospective customers discover your business. What’s more, the more traffic your website sees, the more likely it is to rank higher on google searches, leading to even more visibility for your coffee shop.

5. Teach people something new

Social media, specifically Instagram and Facebook, provide the perfect platforms to share useful information with customers. Educational tidbits can go beyond what would fit into the average chit chat between a barista and their customers. From easy, at-home coffee hacks (using beans they bought from your cafe, of course) to complete guides for pour overs, social media offers more outlets to show people what they can do with your product. The world of specialty coffee can often seem niche and inaccessible to outsiders. Publishing short videos or stories on Facebook and Instagram gives your baristas a platform to speak directly to customers and explain the difference between a traditional vs caramel macchiato or what a flat white actually is, for example. Social media offers a way to break down walls and share information with customers in easily digestible ways. 

Onyx Coffee Lab, known worldwide as a fantastic roaster, use their Facebook and Instagram to showcase the processes behind sourcing and processing their beans. Or, take this Instagram post from Onyx Coffee Labs, for example: it provides educational opportunities which link back to their website. Learn more about Onyx Coffee Lab in this Clover Meet the Merchant interview..

6. Create a sense of personality around your coffee shop

Selling coffee is a social job. Baristas make drinks and build relationships with customers. Far from simply serving a great cup of coffee, baristas chat with regulars, offer advice to tourists, and help create an atmosphere where people want to be. Many coffee shops are the morning hubs of their neighborhoods and play an important part of everyone’s morning routine. 

Take these relationships online by featuring your baristas in social media for a day, letting them lead customers through what it’s like to work behind the counter or make customer faves. Celebrate your employees’ accomplishments on your feed. Social media marketing for coffee shops doesn’t have to be all about making a sale, it should also be about expanding the unique personality of your business and brand. Allow that personalized experience customers know to expect from behind an espresso machine appear online as well. 

This post from Dietrich Espresso, for instance, lets customers know which baristas are working, so they know when to visit their regular servers. And Found Coffee says goodbye in their post to a beloved barista.

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