Mashable's love-fest with Starbucks, JetBlue and other big brands

Mashable continues to applaud the same big brands for their social media efforts. About once a month, Starbucks, JetBlue, Dunkin Donuts, The History Channel or Whole Foods are mentioned in one of their articles. That's not to say I disagree that these companies are doing a great job in social media marketing. Each of them, in fact, is doing something somewhat unique - whether it's on FourSquare, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The challenge, I think, is that in their analysis of these brands, Mashable's "appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity" relies on each brand having done something "unique" or just simply becoming heavily engaged on a social media site and responding to customers there.

What I'd like to see more of is discussion about results and quantifiable metrics so that the next time we applaud a big brand for their accomplishments, we're doing so because they drove the business forward in a tangible way rather than simply playing in the space in a public way.

For example, take their mention of Starbucks' accomplishments in social media. Is it more important to be the "most liked" brand on Facebook or to have driven X number of incremental coupon downloads and redemptions from your Facebook page? Or to notice that in areas where their Facebook fan-base is higher, they see higher foot traffic in the stores? How are you leveraging your fan-base to get people in the store or to drive sales?

That's what this article is missing.

Many companies may not be comfortable releasing internal numbers, but marketing leaders often share them at conferences, so it's not unheard of. As marketers who are interested in the world of "social media marketing", we ought to allow ourselves to be as critical as possible of our peers who are managing social media for other brands - and also to be as critical of ourselves and how we're gauging success in what we do. It is certainly honorable of them to be investing in social media, but you'll convince me and others that social media is worth that time and money if you show us that it's getting results. And the big brands, especially the ones mentioned here, are the ones in the spotlight - the ones with the biggest chance to help shift the conversation toward the numbers and the money and not just highlight the glitz and glam of "most followers" and "most fans."

Do you have a link to a case study about a "big brand" in social media that includes metrics and quantified results? Does your company talk in these terms internally whenever it discusses its social media strategy? Share your thoughts here in the comments.

Here are the highlights from Mashable's story, dated today:
Amplify’d from mashable.com
In appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity, here are five of our top picks for must-follow brands that just know how to use social media.

1. Starbucks

Why Starbucks Rocked This Year: As the most-”Liked” brand on Facebook and one of the top 10 most followed brands on Twitter, Starbucks has proven it’s social media savvy. It has continued to launch new campaigns and engage followers along the way. And it continues to source ideas from its custom social network, My Starbucks Idea.

2. JetBlue

Taking a look at the JetBlue Twitter stream, you see a mass of responses from the airline to inquiring followers — that’s what social is all about. Even with the occasional flight attendant snafu, the company manages to handle the social space well.
We’ve read over and over that one of the top reasons why people follow brands via social media is that they want inside information on promotions and deals. We’re always tuned in to what JetBlue has to say, even if just for the limited offers on All-You-Can-Jet passes that pop up every now and then.

3. The History Channel

Typically, Foursquare tips are used to uncover insider information when you check in to a venue. The History Channel rethought the concept of the tip and began providing unexpected history lessons that were tied to locations.

4. Whole Foods

Whole Foods takes the cake for having one of the most expansive and inclusive social media strategies around, making it one of the top enterprises using social media.
The company encourages individual stores and regional areas to create their own Twitter handles for a more niche customer experience online
At our latest count, the company had nearly 300 niche Twitter accounts.

5. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts focuses on showcasing passionate fans.
Dunkin’ Donuts is all about highlighting its customers via social media. It is always running social media contests, such as last year’s “Keep It Coolatta” sweepstakes, the recent “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest and the current “Ultimate DD Coffee Fan” search.Read more at mashable.com