Dunkin’ Donuts Goes Local From the Corporate Level

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Dunkin’ Donuts is one brand that goes heavily local, but from a corporate level.

For example, Dunkin’ Brands doesn’t encourage local franchisees to do things like start their own Facebook pages, not only because of the work involved (which franchisees quickly learn they don’t have time for) but the tremendous support the corporate social machine can give them

When deciding where it needs to be socially, Dunkin’ considers where consumer are interacting with brands on emerging platforms. A Vine account  was launched in May with a “Runnin’ on #IceDD” contest, where users can win a year of free iced coffee for sharing how the beverage puts a spring in their step. Dunkin’ Donuts has 8.7 million+ Facebook fans, 230,000+ Twitter followers, and 27,000+ YouTube subscribers (with 1.2 million+ video views), as well 4,000+ Pinterest and 42,000+ Instagram.

“People love sharing pictures of donuts,” says Jessica Gioglio, PR and social media manager, noting that the company’s most popular Facebook post to date was a photo of smiley faced donuts, generating 63,000 likes, 5,600 shares, and over 5,000 comments.)

The brand itself has roots as a small local business. The first Dunkin’ Donuts shop opened in Quincy, MA in 1950, where it still stands today. The business case for social for Dunkin’ was to create a high energy community of fans. “We wanted to wrap our arms around them and show we care about what they say,” says Gioglio, who spoke at a recent PRSA Boston event.

Dunkin’ has a cross-functional social team, incorporating representatives from many aspects of the company. The interactive group handles promotions, email, loyalty and mobile, while media oversees advertising and strategic partnerships. PR and customer service keep tabs on social content and community management, while legal is brought in to offer overall program counsel.

Local agencies help Dunkin Brands support over 50 Twitter accounts for different geographic regions, such as @DCDunkin, @DunkinBoston and @DunkinChicago. Through these accounts, localized specials are offered.

Social also helps Dunkin’ gain momentum in areas the brand has not expanded into yet, such as California, where it plans to be by 2015.

The key to good social content for the brand is to keep things short and sweet, and talk up the products while staying away from a hard sell.

“You can say go buy a donut but its more engaging to say ‘how many bites does it take to eat a donut?’” Gioglio says.

The “DD Fan of the Week,” a concept created in social, has gone out into the real world, as the honoree is featured on a digital billboard Dunkin’ has in Times Square. Other engaging campaigns have included asking customers do dress their coffee cups up in Halloween costumes and share the photos, or to tweet pics of their “sad” lunch sandwiches, for the chance to win and upgrade to a Dunkin’ product.

On the gaming side of social, Dunkin’ Donuts has a presence in Sim City, a partnership that earned it 3.7 bilion impressions in less than 6 months and over one million new Facebook fans. In the game, Dunkin’ has gifted more than 50 milllion virtual coffees, donuts and other products.

Social has also proved to be an effective customer service tool for the chain. When PR pro Zach Nobinger tweeted that the cheese on his bagel wasn’t melted three times in one week, Dunkin’ started following him in 27 seconds, direct messaged him and quickly got a gift card out to make up for his inconvenience. Nobinger created a YouTube video chronicling the PR/customer service win for Dunkin’. (Giglio admits they don’t get to everyone in 27 seconds, of course, but they do their best.)

It has also been valuable as a PR outlet. When Boston was on lockdown during the manhunt for the Marathon bombing suspect in April, news outlets jumped on the fact that while the city had asked businesses to stay closed, some Dunkin’ Donuts locations were open. Giglio’s team was able to get the word out that the stores were open because employees had arrived prior to the lockdown and police had asked them to stay open, to give offers a place to refresh during the stressful day.

On a more positive note, Dunkin’ is always on the lookout to tie in to holidays that fit with the brand. That makes June 7, National Donut Day, a natural. Customers who purchase a beverage will get a free donut.

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