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23 May

Social media at Sprolo

Posted by Paul Harrigan

Sprolo popped up on my radar because of two things…..great coffee and great social media. This mix made them perfect for a visit to check out a local take on what makes great social media.

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 Sprolo Darren

Darren (co-owner along with Gabriel Tan) is passionate about good coffee. Here he is above actually making a coffee…not just for my photo! He was kind enough to sit down with me early on a Friday to talk about how Sprolo was born in 2014 and how social media has been a big part of the fuel for its rapid growth since.

A bit of the back story. Sprolo is the shop front of Blacklist ( Blacklist are speciality coffee roasters, based right out the back of the café, that source some of the best beans from across the world and bring them to the best Perth cafes…..including their own. So, how does social media work for Sprolo….?

Sprolo Blacklist 2


‘Before we even started we knew’

Darren hasn’t done any traditional marketing. Pretty cool to go and see a thriving business that can say this. He says that they knew before they started that ‘traditional marketing is being replaced by new, free channels’. People search for what they want and he chose Facebook and Instagram (along with a website of course) as his channels for being found.

Sprolo Facebook

Facebook was the obvious first choice as ‘you have a network there already’. However, getting that network of friends, family, and many randoms to engage with your new business page is far from a given. Sprolo have managed this though, and since attracted a new following of keen customers. They have 1,769 likes (as of 22 May) which is impressive enough for such a young business, but 1,261 people have also ‘been there’, which means they have checked-in or been tagged there on Facebook. You can take that as a guarantee that they have actually been there!

These are people that Sprolo try to engage with on social media, responding to every comment (almost all of which are positive) even if just to say ‘hey. thank you’. As Darren says, ‘social media is about being social not static’. We can’t mention being social without mentioning hashtags. Darren says 'you gotta hashtag everything', particularly on Instagram. On Sprolo’s last Facebook post the hashtags used were: ‪#‎sprolo‬ ‪#‎blacklistcoffeeroasters‬ ‪#‎perth‬ ‪#‎southperth‬ ‪#‎tasty‬ ‪#‎foodgasm‬ ‪#‎foodporn. More and more online, this is how you get found. People search by content not by people.


Capturing moments

If we had to bring Sprolo’s success down to one thing in particular, Darren says it would be their photos. Sprolo link these across both Facebook and Instagram.

Sprolo Instagram

Now, for anyone out there thinking you need to be a professional photographer to take, edit, and post the types of images that get engagement online…..that just isn’t true. Although it does happen that Darren is quite an experienced photographer….but what I say still stands!

Check out the simple but quality….and effective image below that Sprolo posted to both Facebook and Instagram. This image is genuine, as in someone at Sprolo actually took it in Sprolo, quality as in high in definition, and even better it is informative. That picture would be good without the message, but not as good. That message without the picture just gets missed. As Darren says, people are ‘scrolling and skimming online’. You have to give them a reason to stop.

Sprolo imagery

Of course…..taking photos takes time. Time that baristas don’t have. This means that Darren often runs the social media himself, although still encouraging everyone at Sprolo to ‘take a photo if they have a spare 30 seconds’. Sometimes the photos that are taken on go, naturally and of stuff that just happens work best. Having a plan is still important, though, and Sprolo work with a content calendar where they have a backlog of photos, videos and other posts in reserve that can be scheduled or released to continuously keep them top of mind. This is textbook social media marketing.

On a tactical level, Darren says he aims for a post a day and that early mornings, lunch or dinner time work best. We briefly discussed using Facebook Insights to further look into this and Sprolo’s fans, but it comes back to time being an issue.


Viral Video

I have spent the most of this post going on about photos, but we finished our chat discussing video so that’s where I’ll finish here too. Darren thinks video is the way forward, and I (along with other social media ‘experts’!) tend to agree. A YouTube channel is the ultimate aim one day. It’s cool that he is thinking ahead and, based on what Sprolo has done in their first year, who knows.

For the moment, what about this video?! It helps us see how the passion Sprolo have for their quality product and service certainly comes across in their social media. Like their photos, it just works. It’s genuine, quality and ok not informative like the photo example, but entertaining! That’s what any social media content has to be; informative or entertaining. This video reached 7,000 of Sprolo’s fans. Their average photo reaches 700.

Sprolo video

Check out the video here!

For those who know the HowToBasic videos online, you’ll see the resemblance.

The kind of reach they got with this, and generally, is what makes social media the right tool for Sprolo. I’ll finish with a quote from Darren that sums that up better than I can. ‘Word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool, and social media enables it’.





For the academics researchers out there, the research behind this blog post was underpinned by several frameworks

For any social media research, Aral et al. (2013) provide a useful framework that propose these domains of social media:

  • Design and features
  • Strategy and tactics
  • Management and organisation
  • Measurement and value activities

Research in each of these can be at the users, platforms or firms level.

Customer engagement is a central construct in social media research. There are four main types of customer engagement behaviours (CEBs) (Jaakkola and Alexander, 2014):

  • Augmenting (customers helping)
  • Co-developing (customers suggesting)
  • Influencing (customer reviewing)
  • Mobilsing (customer blogging) 

Information processes is also a central construct in social media research. There are three main types (Jayachandran et al., 2005):

  • Information reciprocity (information exchange between firm and customer)
  • Information capture (insight from different social media)
  • Information use (using information to improve marketing)