The coffee giant is launching a beta program called Tweet-a-Coffee that lets you buy a $5 gift card for a friend through the social network. To do so, you first need to sync your Starbucks account to Twitter here and link a credit card to your account. Then, tweet "@tweetacoffee" with the Twitter handle of the intended recipient, and that person will receive your gift card. To entice consumers to try the program, the first 100,000 who link their accounts with their Visa cards will receive a $5 gift card for themselves when they tweet a gift card to someone (a perk for Visa cardholders).
Starbucks launched a similar program in 2011 that let users send gift cards via Facebook. Starbucks has more than 35 million fans on Facebook, but only around 5 million followers on Twitter. This disparity isn't unusual since Twitter is a newer, smaller platform.
"I think the two platforms really complement each other," said Adam Brotman, the chief digital officer at Starbucks.
Brotman said Twitter's strength is both in its mobile convenience and its ability to bridge the online and offline worlds. "It does feed into those physical offline/online moments of serendipity," he said. Brotman envisions consumers having chance encounters in real life and then gifting one another.
For Starbucks, which has also launched alternate reality and video-over-text messaging programs of late, Tweet-a-Coffee is a way to kick the tires on Twitter — hence the beta status of the endeavor. Brotman said this is the first time Starbucks has launched such a beta program to the public. "We are actively seeking feedback about how to improve it," he added.