Dunkin’ Donuts: Keeping Customers Loyal Via Social Media

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Little Girl Eating a Donut
Not the author :)

It’s no big secret that I am a bigger Dunkin’ Donuts fan than most.  This weekend, in the wake of New Jersey’s monster hurricane, I traveled to three different Dunkin’s just to get hash browns and an iced coffee, and then I went to a fourth one later that night.  Today I somehow found myself in a Starbucks and asked for a medium iced coffee three times before I realized I was supposed to say Grande.  Dunkin’ is sort of always on my brain.

And I’m definitely not the only one.  Last month, Dunkin’ Donuts was named number one in customer loyalty (in the coffee category) for the fourth straight year, which shows just how many people in the United States have made stopping at the infamous chain part of their daily routine.  Of course the question that a study like this raises is, what is it that Dunkin’ Donuts does that inspires such utter devotion among their consumers?

I won’t be so bold as to claim that their activities in Social Media is the sole answer to this question (I mean have you ever had their Coconut Iced Coffee? It’s seriously delicious). However, I do think that they do a particularly fantastic job of taking advantage of all that social media has to offer and using it to reach their customers.  They were one of the first brands that I really started actively following on Twitter and Facebook and I have truly enjoyed keeping up with all of the things that they do.

Aside from their “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest, Dunkin’ doesn’t do a ton of large-scale, media attracting social media initiatives.  It’s the small things that they truly excel at.  They know how to keep consumers engaged and interested on a daily basis and they have a way of making you feel like you’re special, even as just one of their millions of consumers.  They may not make a huge splash by doing ridiculous things that no one has ever heard of, but I would argue that it really doesn’t matter.  By making the consumer the focus of their brand (which goes along perfectly with their “America Runs on Dunkin'” slogan) instead of the brand itself, Dunkin Donuts has ensured that they will stay loyal.

The brand’s Twitter account is a great model for companies looking to try their hand at the service.  Instead of just broadcasting information and deals, “Dunkin’ Dave” makes it a point to respond and talk to the fans that tweet at him.  I’ve been RTed by the account many times and have been reached out to after I tweeted a (semi) complaint.  The level of engagement really made tweeting with a brand FUN to me. And Dave definitely has a fun, witty personality that goes with the vibe of the brand.  I don’t know much about the backstory of Dunkin’ Dave, but I’d be really interested in learning more since it seems his full time job is tweeting (which is a fascinating concept in and of itself).  The Twitter account also hosts frequent promotions like their recent “Twinter Games” where followers can use a certain hashtag to win a number of different prizes.

Dunkin’ Donut’s Facebook account (currently boasting more than 1 million fans) does an even better job at interacting with their consumers.  The page is the site of weekly contests where fans can become the “Fan of the Week” and have their decked out photo featured as the brand’s profile picture.  I can’t think of a better way to keep consumers passionate about the brand than by letting them broadcast their passion to the world.  It’s incredibly entertaining to browse through the crazy pictures that mega-fans have posted on the page.

Not many brands participating in social media can say this, but the brilliance of Dunkin’ Donut’s strategy comes from its simplicity.  I think they are a perfect example of what the standard might one day be for any company that is looking to successfully engage with their customers through social media.

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  • SaraKate

    They are absolutely awesome and do everything right on Twitter, that's for sure. After a recent trip when I Tweeted about their coffee, they replied to me to make sure that I'd had a good experience. That's pretty great. I love their coffee and it's inexpensive, plus they've got great (and healthy!) options for breakfast. I'm a fan of their brand and their social media strategy.

  • http://twitter.com/OnlinePRNews Tara & Christine

    I am also a huge Dunkin' Donuts fan. Their flat-break, egg white sandwiches are great — and only 300 calories. It is my “go-to” breakfast when I am running late dropping the kids at school in the morning. (It helps that the school is right across the street too!)

    I have to admit I wasn't overly aware of their social marketing, but i am definitely going to check it out now that you talked about it. Sounds like they are doing everything right and I want to join the fun! — Tara

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  • beccameyers

    Ugh now I am craving a Dunkachino!

    I was always personally offended by their twitter account though because I actually noticed how great of a job they were doing but in all my tweets to them, (basically a shout out every single morning for almost a year) I never once got a response or RT. Made me sad. Tears for that.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Couldn't agree with you more, Jess. Dunkin' Donuts is the Southwest Airlines of social media when it comes to the coffee/QSR industry. Chick-Fil-A does a great job too.

    Not sure if this happens in your hometown, but DD just came to Kansas City (thank God) and the franchisee started a Twitter account @DDinKC. Just by doing the little things on Twitter, he has made DD a part of the community in just a few short months and activated local brand fans.

    I think you make a really smart point that sometimes the little things (listening, acknowledging your fans, etc) are enough. Brands don't always have to launch a flashy campaign.

    @jgoldsborough

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  • http://www.giaparker.com/ Gia

    Lol. Dunkin Donuts is awesome. I love their social media strategy and how they establish relationships with customers. I use Foursquare which is connected to my Twitter acct. Today I became the mayor of one of DD's local shoppes and they announced it on their timeline like I won Miss America or something. Haha. I love it.

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