The social experiment Jonathan’s Card has gone viral within the past few weeks, starting with a mobile app consultant, Jonathan Stark, putting his Starbuck’s card online for all to use. He encouraged people to buy a cup of coffee on him then gave instructions on how to add more money to the card.
The Twitter stream @jonathanscard is constantly being updated (by a program Stark wrote) with the balance of the card so people know when they can use it and when they need to add money. But what I love about this project is that it is a common ground for complete strangers. It makes everyone feel like a part of something. Random strangers can buy you a cup of coffee just for the fun of it. And it is fun, I might add. I went to Starbucks yesterday to use the card and it immediately started up a conversation with the Barista and others in line. It gives meaning to the old saying, “You get what you give.” Get a coffee, give a coffee. Users of the card are encouraged to tweet and post on Facebook pictures of their drink, reciept, or the location of the Starbucks.
Now Jonathan was smart. He linked his personal website on the project website which is in the info of the Twitter stream. He’s marketing himself to the big guys, and doing so in an ingenious way. “I help big companies with little apps,” his main page reads. As of today there are 9,807 followers on the Twitter page, so think about all that traffic going to his personal website. That’s more attention than one guy could possibly want. His strategy was simple yet effective. He got his name out there by doing something newsworthy and philanthropic, using the skills he knows. In turn, leading the public to become curious about him and what he does.
Apparently Starbucks isn’t involved but I secretly wish they were. They are definitely benefiting from it. Free press! People are going out of their way to Starbucks to get a coffee that might be free to them, but Starbucks is still getting the money from it. Over $3600 has been spent on it, Stark told CNN.
Now how does this come into play for your business, you ask? Think about the perfect mix of tools used in this project: social media, incentive, sense of community, and a common ground- coffee (no pun intended). Apply that to your business in a way that relates to your customers. Find a way to get the community interested and involved in what you’re doing and encourage them to communicate about it. Maybe, just maybe you’ll become the next Jonathan’s Card.