Coffee News: from Seed to Cup

Social Media Marketing Magic with Acme and Co

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Acme and Co. has over 40,000 followers on its instagram account. They’re not a photography studio. Or a creator of cat memes. Or even a cupcake shop. No, they sell coffee cups. Cute, stylish coffee cups – but cups all the same.

Acme and Co. hail from Wellington, New Zealand, but their colorful cups are loved all around the world, stretching from Saudi Arabia to their latest distributors in Mexico.

Sometimes people just get it, you know? Their success comes naturally, leaving us wondering how we could possibly emulate it. So read on as we take a peek into how Acme & Co have grown their brand – and learn how you can use social media to do the same.

SEE ALSO: Red Espresso: The Tea You Can Drink as Espresso?

Jessica Godfrey showcasing Acme & Co.

Jessica Godfrey showcasing Acme & Co. at SCAA 2015, Seattle.

Jessica Godfrey: Colors and Inspirations

Jessica Godfrey, General Manager of Sales & Marketing at Acme & Co., is the hero behind the popular Acme instagram account. A long-time coffee professional in New Zealand and three-time WBC (World Barista Championship) certified judge, Jessica describes herself as a “…total food tourist: I love traveling, love eating out, and love finding the best coffee in any city visited around the world.”

She finds inspiration mostly from fashion and art, sometimes coming from the unlikeliest of places, like the corner of a magazine page. The color of Acme’s BLUE cups came from a masthead of 2012 issue of URBIS magazine; it caught her eye and she tore it off immediately to present to the owners as Acme’s next color. They gave her the green light right on the spot, and the little piece was whisked away to be color matched.

And just like with her design, when it comes to marketing, Jessica told us she’s driven by intuition rather than statistics.

Blue coffee cups

The color blue, as inspired by a masthead of 2012 issue of URBIS magazine. Picture taken at Kokako Flagship Cafe in Auckland New Zealand.

To find out more about her intuitive marketing skills, we sat down at Prefab Cafe, the 180-seat headquarters for Acme & Co. in Wellington. While sipping coffee, we chatted about fashion, food, travel, and – of course – how Acme & Co. has achieved such fantastic success.

Acme & Co’s headquaters: Prefab Cafe in Wellington.

Acme & Co’s headquaters: Prefab Cafe in Wellington.

Acme & Co. on Social Media Marketing Magic

What is the purpose of social media (instagram in particular) for Acme & Co.?

Building a direct and immediate relationship with the consumer. That’s what we’re there for. To connect. To engage. To show people what we’re about, but also to listen. We only use facebook to push our instagram images and to respond to the odd inquiry. Twitter is a better medium for social commentary  if we blogged we would use it more. Instagram is without a  doubt our preferred medium. A picture tells a thousand words.

Grey coffee cups

Grey is the most popular color used by cafés, due to the tasteful (pun intended) appearance it gives the coffee. Credit: D. Wang (taken at Flight Coffee Hangar in Wellington).

How do you build relationships on instagram?

The same way you’d build any real-life relationship. At first, you’re shy and you don’t know anyone. You notice someone you like the look of, so you either try to look so alluring that they introduce themselves to you or you might feel bold enough to make the first move yourself.

Eventually you build up a solid friend base. You try to make yourself interesting to them, and you’re actively interested in what your friends have going on in their lives. You look out for each other.

There is no mystery to it: treat everyone with respect, and be yourself. Always. People can spot a phony a mile away.

What is the overall image of Acme & Co. on instagram? In other words, what is the type of vibe Acme’s instagram account is trying to build?

For us, it’s being crystal clear about who we are. We are coffee people who started a cup company to make the coffee experience an easier and more elegant ritual for all those involved: cafe owners, baristas, and consumers alike. We get excited about new cafes, interesting shop decor, customized machines, delicious coffees, etc., and now we are a part of that. I hope our instagram portrays our enthusiasm for what’s happening in coffee all around the world.

Instagram post Paris Fashion Week

A post corresponding with the Paris Fashion Week and introducing a local café: Acme & Co. stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. Credit: @acmeandco.

What are the criteria for an instagram post to be regrammed by Acme & Co.?

The rule is: relevant, beautiful and interesting.

We only regram images that have our cups in the picture; that’s what makes it relevant. We don’t have to be the hero of the image, but we need to be there, otherwise we would be just any other coffee stream.

The image has to be good – in focus, well-composed, and also accurate. For example, I would never post a picture of an extraction that I knew wasn’t good.
And we never post something just for the sake of posting or because we haven’t posted for a while. If it’s not interesting to you, it won’t be interesting to your followers, so don’t do it. It all goes back to respecting your followers.

Instagram regrammed post

The author’s own post regrammed by @acmeandco.

How important are hashtags?

I’m very fond of hashtags — they are very helpful for succinct communication. I’d rather read less than more on instagram, so we employ a few of them. We use them as shorthand for our message and also to be search-able.

When we use #acmecups, it means there’s Acme cups in the photo. We also direct people to use that hashtag if they want us to regram their pictures. We use #specialtycoffee because that’s the world we connect with. We always hashtag the city of the cafe we’re profiling, and we always end with #acmeforlife.

The hashtag #acmeforlife was first used by one of our distributors. When I read it, I was so touched. I was actually a bit nervous about using it ourselves – I wondered if it sounded vain – but it seemed so perfect. I love its dual meaning and that it is 100% ownable.

We have a couple more hashtags that we use less regularly. One is used when we are traveling and we visit somewhere that we are impressed with, but unfortunately they don’t use our cups. If you see #acmetravels you can translate it as: if you are in this city, go here because it’s great!!

How much do you think hashtags have helped to expand Acme’s popularity?

This month (October), our new yellow cups will be available for sale for cafés. I wanted to celebrate the new color and I kept saying “yes yellow” around the office – it’s alliterative, it’s affirmative. I loved the sound of it, so we introduced the new color on instagram with #YesYellow.

It’s not particularly strategic. It’s instinctive. We just do it.
We decided it was successful when the emails started flooding in with that hashtag in the subject line. We’ve got customers saying they will do anything to be the first to have yellow in their city. We sold out of our first production run of yellow within two weeks.

Yellow coffee cups

#YesYellow, the new color available in October. Credit: @jting.

Do you think social media is important to today’s coffee business? How important? Why?

It was important for Acme & Co. because we were a new brand and we didn’t have a lot of existing channels. It was the only “free” way to get ourselves out there; however, there are a lot of great existing brands that have little social media presence, I would find it very difficult to say it’s any more important than a number of other touch points of a business.

Acme cupping bowl

At Prefab Café, latte is now served in the Acme cupping bowl. Credit: D. Wang.

So there you have – that’s how Acme & Co. instinctively built an authentic brand on social media that has allowed them all to thrive. While it may not be the only route to success, their story is a great reminder of the power of instagram for coffee businesses.

On one final note, when I asked Jessica which country has NOT inquired about Acme cups, she answered: “India.” I couldn’t help but imagine the future possibilities of a billion Indians sipping tea from New Zealand coffee cups! #chaiching

Written by D. Wang and edited by T. Schrock.

Feature Photo Credit: Dianne Wang

Perfect Daily Grind.

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