Not everyone is comfortable navigating social media, but it’s hard to argue the benefits that a well thought out social media strategy can have on your business.
Consider these numbers: There are nearly 1.3 billion Facebook users on Planet Earth, about 60 percent of whom log in at least once per day. This one website is responsible for connecting over 750 million people. So, what does that mean for you?
Anyone who comes in contact with your shop can help reinforce the Dunkin’ brand. And, while a single interaction may not guarantee future sales, we have seen how sustained positive contact builds valuable loyalty. Here are some keys to success we’ve learned through our experience using social media to drive our Dunkin’ business.
Step one: Location, location, location.
On which social media sites do you want to be? There are dozens of potential sites where you can post photos, videos, stories and more. But, in the world of social media, more is not always better. Besides, who has the time to keep the content flowing on six different sites? We’ve learned it’s better to have no account than one which is inactive; dead accounts make your business look outdated, or worse, even closed. That said, you have to have a Facebook fan page. Remember, there are 1.3 billion Facebook users out there so you need to exist in their world.
Creating and managing Facebook is relatively simple. You can develop a page for your company, or for each individual shop. These can exist as a secondary page(s) to your personal account, or as a stand-alone. We’ve had success appointing someone to run the page, but we restrict their access. So, for example, they can post a photo or message, but can’t send private messages or purchase advertising.
Also, remember that Dunkin’ Brands maintains a Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page (facebook.com/DunkinDonuts), so it’s important to keep an eye on what they’re doing so you can be in sync. Your profile and the materials you post on your
page should fit your market. The Dunkin’ Donuts official page cannot forge the same personal relationships with your customers that your page can. Dunkin’ doesn’t know your customers’ preferences or opinions, but you do!
One of the key metrics on Facebook is the “like.” It’s a virtual thumbs-up from people who approve of you. Something we’ve found is that all likes are not created equal. There are companies that advertise the chance to buy a “Promote Page” function, which can boost your likes. The problem is that you are buying likes from so-called click-farms, which are typically third world companies that pay workers to like the Facebook pages of their clients. While it might sound like a good idea, these kind of phantom engagements can harm your positioning.
Facebook’s algorithms rank your posts based on how your fans interact with them. When a large number of your fans are phantoms only, there is less interaction and, as a result, your future posts can be ranked lower and buried in a news feed. In essence, you are trading potentially meaningful engagement for short-term inflated numbers.
It’s better to build your statistics by engaging with your audience. Then, the likes you get are real.
Step two: Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize.
Building a social network means your fans are sharing your posts on their profiles. One way to encourage them is to offer incentives. This summer we are giving away tickets with two of our partners, Six Flags and the New York Mets, to those people who share our posts about the contest. Thanks to the partnerships we can engage amusement park and baseball fans, along with our customers and friends. If they like us and participate in the conversation, they can win.
It works. When we launched the first contest post, we received 130 new likes in just the first two days. We also use coupons to encourage engagement; we will post coupons on our Facebook page or give discounts to people who can show the cashier that they have liked our page.
Step three: Photos and videos
The best posts include a video or photo. So, as an obvious example, in Window 7 when we reintroduced the Southwest Steak Burrito, we posted a photo of the sandwich along with the announcement that it was back. When we give away samples in our shops, we post a picture of a crewmember interacting with customers to help encourage people to come in and have a taste.
Photos and videos are perfect for posting on Twitter and Instagram. Twitter, in particular, benefits from visuals because you are limited to only 140 characters of text in each post—so, to borrow from the age-old adage, the picture becomes worth a thousand words. As an example, you can post a photo of the Southwest Steak Burrito on Twitter and simply write, “It’s back…”
When used correctly, Twitter can be extremely powerful, because you build a loyal group of followers who read your posts as part of their news feed. You can interact with your customers on an individual level, while also allowing the general public to follow your news. That means every successful contact impacts that relationship and potentially thousands more.
Twitter can also serve as an information source for you. Say a customer has a negative experience in your shop, they may choose to tweet about it. As long as you are tuned into mentions of your store – which are identified by a hashtag (#) before the store’s online identity, like #35MainStDunkin – you can address any situation immediately by posting a response, an apology or an explanation. By responding in real time, your customers will see that you care and that is step one to limiting bad publicity.
Like Twitter, Instagram is designed for pictures and video. Its visual appeal is making it one of the fastest growing sites among younger viewers. Instagram has a neat function which allows you to link it to your Facebook page. By doing so, you can quickly populate both sites with the same content. Whatever you post on Facebook will appear on Instagram. In fact, you can also link Twitter to Facebook so your news feed is shared among all sites. That way, you appear active and engaged on multiple sites with minimal effort.
Social media is an important tool for developing and nourishing relationships with your customers. And, while we’ve been successful using the tips described here, you may come up with new and better ways of using social media sites to benefit your business. In either case, you need to jump right in and give it a try—that way you can see what works for you and your store.
The beauty of social media is that it is an intuitive experience, especially for younger people who have grown up with it. It may be worth tapping one of your children or a twenty-something crewmember who knows his/her way around a social media site to help you get started. After a while, you will become more comfortable with the platform and eventually be able to run the sites on your own. •
Adam Goldman is a DD franchise owner with a successful multi-store network in Northern New Jersey. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Resnick is a student at Case Western Reserve University majoring in Marketing and Finance and currently working as an intern for Adam’s network.