Starbucks Holiday 2.0

Get ready for Starbucks Holiday 2.0. The brand is going big in social media this year, having learned that its consumers want to participate in a variety of ways. So Starbucks is pulling back from itsThanksgiving TV buys of the past two years to focus on where its customers already spend time online and drive them into stores.

Starbucks is spreading the love around, advertising on websites from to Meebo; partnering with Pandora to offer branded holiday playlists; and encouraging participation in social and owned media to get consumers in the holiday spirit.

The chain is continuing its partnership with Red, launched last Thanksgiving, by offering a free “All You Need Is Love” CD, with tracks from U2, John Legend and the Dave Matthews Band, when consumers spend $15. Additionally, Starbucks will give $1 to fight AIDS in Africa.

There are also a variety of holiday-themed “Red” products for which Starbucks will also make the $1 donation with a customer purchase. This represents a stepped-up version of last year’s offer, which was a five-cent donation made when consumers bought a holiday beverage such as a peppermint mocha.

Starbucks said it has learned that different people want to connect in different ways, so Starbucks is offering a variety of touch-points. Of their 5 million [fans] on Facebook, not everyone is going to want the same thing.

For instance, last year Starbucks encouraged consumers to stop in, buy a holiday beverage, take pictures of themselves inside Project Red’s logo parentheses, and upload their pictures to a Red holiday microsite. To make it easier, this year Starbucks is hosting a Flickr page where consumers can upload pictures of themselves with their holiday paraphernalia. They can also do so on Facebook, where fans can also send their friends red Starbucks cups.

The Starbucks shutterbugs are among the chain’s biggest fans, valuable evangelists for the brand who educate friends and family about what’s new at the chain.

For music lovers, Starbucks is partnering with Pandora in the hope that consumers will be thinking about Starbucks while listening to music, and perhaps will be more likely to pop by for a gingerbread latte. The branded playlist on the music site is designed to get consumers into the store to spend $15 and get the “Love” CD. Starbucks is paying Pandora for ad placement.