Starbucks has few fans on Facebook

The premise behind Facebook's Social Ads is the notion that users of the social network will declare their brand loyalty on the site, and thereby opt into targeted ads from some of their favorite corporations. Starbucks, despite a recent dip in store visits after a price hike, serves 44 million customers a week. So you'd think a few of those customers might have admitted to being fans of Facebook, right? Wrong. Facebook's Starbucks product page has all of 59 fans. I think there were that many people in my local Starbucks the last time I bought a latte.

The idea of targeting ads to willing customers is not wholly flawed. HotorNot founder James Hong points out that more than 32,000 860,000 Facebook users have declared Starbucks "hot" on his company's Facebook HotLists application. Not shabby at all, but even then, that hasn't hit mass-audience status. Let's say Starbucks advertised to every single one of those users and got them into a coffee shop every day? It still wouldn't really move the needle on sales.

And if Starbucks visits are on the decline, does Starbucks want to preach to the converted — or reach new customers who don't already identify with the brand? Perhaps Starbucks should buy ads that are targeted to people who aren't its fans. Or here's an idea. How about an old-fashioned TV campaign? Last I checked, almost the entire population of the U.S. watches television, while only two-thirds are online.