It happens nearly every week.

As I scroll through my social media feeds, and swipe through an endless lineup of stories, that all-too-familiar green and white coffee cup pops into view.

Starbucks has done it again. They’ve hilariously, and permanently, screwed up my friend’s name and plastered it all over their morning cup of joe.

Aaron? Nah, that’s clearly Airinn. Madalyn? You look like a Mad-Alien. Emily? More like ENEMA, LOL.

It doesn’t matter how simple your name is, or how clearly you pronounce it to your Starbucks barista, they will find a way to write something ridiculously incorrect on your cup before they give it to you.

And what happens next?

You share a picture of your adorably silly Starbucks cup on Instagram. It’s too cute not to, right?

Starbucks absolutely knows how to spell your name

Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay

They just choose not to.

And thus, the brilliance of Starbucks’ marketing scheme is fully revealed.

If something as simple as misspelling your name on your cup can coerce you into sharing #Starbuckscontent all over your social media channels, and give them 100% free advertising, how could they afford not to do it?

This moment of realization hit me as I sat in a Starbucks and waited for my friend Caleb to buy his morning Americano. After receiving his coffee from the barista, he walked over to me with a silly smirk on his face.

You see, his name is Caleb, but they had spelled it as Kaylib!

And what was he instantly motivated to do? Take a pic of it and send it to his girlfriend.

If the barista had simply done her job and spelled his name correctly, not only is that totally boring, but there would simply be nothing for my friend to share with others.

Bingo. Mission accomplished.

Starbucks has mastered the art of free advertising

Admittedly, I have zero “real” evidence to bolster my theory. And I don’t care enough to actually dig deeper into this conspiracy and freefall further down the rabbit hole of frappucinos and pumpkin scones.

Also, I have a friend who worked at Starbucks and claims that I am entirely incorrect.

Close enough.

Because… it just makes sense, right? It’s so brilliant. So simple, yet so powerful.

And it can inspire all of us small business owners to wield the power of social media to our own benefit. If you own any type of service-based business, you should be looking at this as an example of what great social media marketing is capable of.

Whether this whole scheme is true or not, it easily could be. And should be. (welcome to 2017 y’all, fake news!)

Modern marketing strategies are all about shareable customer experiences. They now build entire restaurants to be “Instagrammable” for goodness sake.

Make your product or service irresistibly shareable, and people will do your advertising for you.

And it’s all 100% free.