Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

140 Characters

140 Characters

Alex Beaudin

Social media and social networks have become increasingly popular over the last decade, not only with individuals, but with companies as well. Companies are utilizing social media as a form of advertising and brand identity marketing, opening the door for a new way to attract customers. This paper examines how Starbucks Coffee uses the social networking site Twitter to communicate with their customers by asking how the 140 character limit to Twitter posts effects the overall message Starbucks sends to its customers. Through a review of literature on the topic of social media use by both individuals and companies and linguistic analyses of social media, general practices regarding social media were identified and an observation and analysis of four non-consecutive twenty-four hour periods of Starbucks’ Twitter feed, including posts and responses to customers’ questions and comments, an interesting use of the pronouns “I” and “we” by Starbucks was found. Viewing social media use as a form of social interaction, instead of computer mediated communication (CMC), this paper attempts to outline the use of social media as a viable tool for companies like Starbucks as well as encourage future research into other uses of social media.

Keywords: Starbucks, Twitter, social media, social network, pronoun, brand identity

April 18, 2012 - Posted by | abstract


  1. The co-opting of social media by commercial interests is a fascinating phenomenon, but a fast-moving target. As Mitt Romney says, “Corporations are people too, my friend.” The horror…

    Comment by Dan Harrison | April 23, 2012 | Reply

  2. I appreciate the essentially brain-numbing research work needed here to accomplish this paper, rather like the thankless work of the old-fashioned indexer or concordance compiler, dutifully counting up all instances. How this work generalizes to other social domains would be interesting to see also.

    Comment by Snow Leopard | June 13, 2012 | Reply

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