3 Strategies To Make Your Coffee Shop Go Viral

Two men working at the counter of a busy coffee shop

 

As the saying goes, the best marketing is always word of mouth. So how do you get your customers to tell people, whether online or in person, about your coffee shop? And how do you bring those new customers in?

Let’s examine three strategies to use your existing customers to bring in new customers.

 

 

Why Go Viral?

Now let’s look at going viral through the lens of your coffee shop's goals. If you have one location in Santa Monica, how would going viral help you? Being famous in Singapore wouldn’t help you, but being famous around Santa Monica would.

Here’s the thing—you don’t need the whole world talking about your coffee shop. You need your local community to talk about your coffee shop. So when looking at the following strategies, think about how you can apply them at a scale that works for your business.

Going Viral In Your Local Community

Now let’s look at going viral through the lens of your coffee shop's goals. If you have one location in Santa Monica, how would going viral help you? Being famous in Singapore wouldn’t help you, but being famous around Santa Monica would.

Here’s the thing—you don’t need the whole world talking about your coffee shop. You need your local community to talk about your coffee shop. So when looking at the following strategies, think about how you can apply them at a scale that works for your business.

 

Strategy #1: Show Your Support For Your Local Community

As a local business, you’re dependent on your local community. Generating goodwill is a great way to get them talking about you.

First off, think about your coffee shop brand and local issues that are important to you, your employees, and your customers. What’s going on in your community right now?

Next, think about ways your business can help. The more creative your solution, the better. If you’re running a fundraising campaign for victims of a flood, go beyond setting up a donations jar at your till. Do something worth talking about. Sell sand-bag-shaped cookies or offer a free coffee once you’ve hit your fundraising goal.

Finally, tell your customers to tell their friends about your campaign. Maybe that means asking them to post a picture and share it online. Maybe it means asking them to tell their coworkers. If a customer is buying 5 coffees to go, have a little write-up ready to go that their friends, coworkers or family members can read.

Your customers can’t read your mind. You need to tell them explicitly that they should tell others about your campaign. But, explain how that helps the community and not just your business.

 

Example: Press Cafe is located in West Texas. For one full week every year, every sale they make goes towards a specific charity. They tell their customers how much from each sale goes to charity. Then, they ask their customers to match that amount instead of giving a tip. It’s had a compounding effect. During that week, they make a lot of sales and support a local charity. Which, on its own is fantastic. But, it also creates a buzz around their cafe. They get coverage from local newspapers and media. Their customers get to know them as a company that supports their local community.

 

 

 

Strategy #2: Create An Environment That Encourages Photos & Selfies

As long as your account is the only one sharing photos of your coffee shop, you won’t gain a lot of momentum online. Your account can only reach so many people. The goal of a viral campaign is to tap into your customer’s networks.

Most people that are active on social media post photos and selfies. The key is to get them to post photos of your menu items or selfies in your coffee shop. That means you need to provide something that your customers want to take photos of. Figure out what your customer base regularly posts, and get them excited.

That could be interesting-looking menu items, a selfie station with perfect lighting, or a fun mural. Remember, photos and videos are the types of content shown in the two most popular social media apps in the US right now—Instagram and TikTok.

CJ Barone, the owner of Empire Tea & Coffee, has kept social media in mind when designing his locations. In the past, he's ensured he created an environment that encourages pictures. Now, with the changes in social media, he thinks that incorporating elements that people want to take their pictures with is even more important. 

"We put in design elements at the time thinking that we wanted to come to be Instagrammable. I don’t think it necessarily happens as often as it did a little more back in the day. I think folks are more interested in taking pictures of themselves.

“I think if I were to change our design, I would probably create elements that people would take a picture of themselves in front of.” - CJ Barone, Empire Tea & Coffee

 

Strategy #3: Offer Something Special For A Limited Time

FOMO is a great motivator. When something is selling out quickly, people talk about it. A limited-time menu item will get people talking, and bring in customers to try something new.

When it comes to limited-time offers (LTOs), you need to mean that it’s limited. You can’t, for example, bring your pumpkin spiced latte back in the spring if you plan to release it every fall. If you do, your customers will think they can order it at any time, and it won’t drive customers in to try it.

In terms of designing your menu, consider something novel. Your customers are more likely to talk about something they consider to be new and noteworthy. Design your menu item to be both photogenic and delicious. Then, your customers will take photos, and share them online with their friends and family.

 

Looking for more strategies that your coffee shop can use? Check out this webinar. Amin Yazdani covers the five more strategies in detail and provides some great examples. 

 

Watch the Webinar: 5 Ways to Make Your Coffee Shop Go Viral

 

 

 

 

 

Published on 30 March, 2022

Written by Elizabeth Goodwin Kelly

Picture of Elizabeth Goodwin Kelly
Elizabeth is the Marketing Manager with Craver. She worked in quick-service restaurants and bars before joining the restaurant tech industry in 2017.