On the 28th of October Starbucks coffee announced a
surprise partnership with Twitter, enabling gift
certificates to be exchanged via tweets. With little or
no difficulty, the Tweet-A-Coffee program will allow
spur-of-the-moment acts of generosity between
friends and will enable users to connect with people
they would love to meet for a cup of coffee, but will
probably never get the chance to. By simply tweeting
another Twitter user, a $5 gift card can be
The larger significance of this partnership is that
companies such as Starbucks are gradually beginning
to see Twitter as a potential e-commerce platform.
Tweet-A-Coffee requires users to sync their twitter
accounts with their Starbucks accounts. Having done
this, users can simply tweet ‘@tweetacoffee to’
followed by a friend’s Twitter handle. To begin with
Starbucks are only offering $5 denominations, redeemable by printing out the eGift or loading it to a
personal Starbucks digital card. In an effort to make the service as efficient as possible, Twitter and Starbucks
have made the system smart enough to recognize that RTs and @replies to an eGift do not necessarily mean
a user is intending to send another gift.
Adam Brotman, Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer hopes that the service will have such a low barrier of entry
that it becomes difficult to resist, hoping that Tweet-A-Coffee will naturally foster in-the-moment instances
of users “thanking someone or acknowledging an act of kindness” with a Starbucks eGift. To support the
launch, the company is giving the first 100,000 customers who use the eGift tweet service a $5 eGift card for
For Starbucks, the potential benefits of Tweet-A-Coffee are huge; the service will give the brand a new digital
and social avenue through which to interact with consumers. A secondary benefit is that the service will
probably drive business to Starbucks stores and may entice more people to use Starbucks’ digital tools.
When commenting on the potential for Tweet-A-Coffee Brotman stated: “We view it as the first step toward
many things we can do with Twitter that are commerce related".
Despite a few teething issues Tweet-A-Coffee represents a novel and innovative campaign that will
encourage engagement with the brand as well as driving sales of Starbucks products. The initiative forms
part of a broader trend of brands utilising Twitter as an e-commerce platform. Other examples include
American Express, which initiated a program that allowed its cardholders to make purchases via a hashtag.