Starbucks Demonstrates Influencer Marketing with YouTube Star Coffee Taste Test

Starbucks is using influencer marketing to push its latest blends, tapping YouTube stars to help promote their products in this influence marketing example.

As social media continues to infiltrate virtually every aspect of daily life, global brands are bending over backwards to gain easy publicity by converting the web’s biggest influencers into de facto representatives — and no one is doing that better than Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).

Last week, the global coffee giant turned heads by bringing in two of YouTube’s biggest stars to engage in a deceptively organic-looking coffee taste challenge.

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The blindfolded contest saw Nerdy Nummies host Rosanna Pansino square off against YouTube personality iJustine to see which influencer could correctly identify seasonal favorites like the Chile Mocha, or spot the secret surprise in a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

This is the second Starbucks Challenge Rosanna and iJustine have posted on YouTube so far this year — and at face value, the eleven minute video slots in perfectly with each celebrity’s wider social media profile. Zoom in a little closer, and it’s actually a brilliant example of influencer marketing in action.

Influencer marketing is an increasingly common outreach method that sees big brands offer free goods, services or payment to key digital leaders in order to gain endorsements, prominent promotional opportunities or positive reviews. The FTC requires explicit disclosure of compensation for these campaigns, but that does not generally impact their effectiveness.

Most small business owners won’t have the marketing budget to convince two of YouTube’s biggest stars to promote their seasonal product lines — but there are plenty of ways to engage in influencer marketing while on a budget.

Earlier this year, start-up Intellifluence launched a platform designed specifically to connect business owners with the web’s top up-and-coming bloggers, social media stars and personalities.

The site essentially acts as a social media network in its own rite by cutting out the middle man and enabling smaller brands to reach out and interact with influencers without the need to hire overpriced talent agencies.

Image: Rosanna Pansino/YouTube

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Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is

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