For Dunkin, ‘Social’ Has Always Been Part of the Strategy

Like a jelly donut, the learnings were deliciously sweet at a social media event held recently by the PRSA Boston chapter, especially those imparted by Dunkin’ Brands Communications Chief Officer Karen Raskopf and Jessica Gioglio, PR & Social Media Manager for Dunkin’ Donuts.

Raskopf set the stage with clarity and conviction, as one gets the sense she does every day for Dunkin’ Brands’ communications, saying that “PR is uniquely qualified to lead the social media conversation.” With PR’s focus on earning stories, rather than paid placement, Raskopf explained, “we have always had to engage to get conversation going. We are the content creators. We are the arbiters. We put the social in social media.”

Inspiring, and true, words. Good PR people are at once practiced listeners and story tellers, sensitive to the broader context and possessing the relationships that start and keep conversation going.

Raskopf, like me, is a baby boomer. She says while she finds it hard to keep up with all the new platforms, it’s not the platforms that tell the story. “Never let technology distract you from your communications strategy,” she said.

Her advice resonated with me.  At 360, we focus first on the audience and the call to action – the over-arching campaign strategy. Then, we consider the array of vehicles we have to reach and engage audience.

Getting back to Dunkin’s social media strategy, Gioglio took the stage and shared that Facebook is Dunkin’ Donuts’ “big fish,” with 8.7 million fans and growing. “Image is your new lead-generator,” she said. Gioglio knows what she’s talking about. Dunkin’ Donuts’ most successful Facebook post to date was just two words, Donuts = Smiles, and an image.

Not surprisingly, Dunkin’ uses an active mix of social platforms – including Twitter, a blog, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. They also recently launched on Vine. Of the newer platforms, “Instagram is one of the platforms that works best for us,” said Gioglio. The brand uses Twitter for local engagement, with 30+ local US Twitter accounts.

In terms of measurement, while Dunkin’ Donuts’ boasts some of the biggest fan followings, Gioglio said, and Raskopf echoed, that the goal is quality, not quantity – with an emphasis on great content first. That presumably leads to volume, delivering more fans and higher engagement levels.

Dunkin’ Donuts relies on a vast network of store operators, a national agency and local market agencies, and an in-house team of 10 to listen, fuel and respond to social media fans. Gioglio acts as “keeper of the brand voice” on Dunkin’ Donuts’ social channels. “We are on all day, every day,” Gioglio said enthusiastically. In today’s always on world, it’s always ‘time to make the donuts.’