If I Were Mayor of Dunkin' Donuts...Oh Wait, I Am

Lots of buzz about Foursquare lately--in the association world, the marketing/social media worlds--and of course, my personal world, as my friend/co-worker Janet and I battle it out daily for mayorship of ASHA's National office. Meanwhile, on other, not totally unrelated fronts, Dunkin' Donuts is investing significant amounts of money and time into social media marketing.

What do the two of these topics have to do with each other? Well, frankly--me--and the other majors of various Dunkin' Donut locations. Did you know that I am the mayor of not one but TWO different Dunkin' Donut locations? What's my point--other than me making a shameless plug to get something free out of the deal? I actually do have one...

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the opportunities for Dunkin' Donuts and other businesses out there with regard to Foursquare. Let me break it down in a totally self-serving way: let's pretend Dunkin' Donuts wanted to add Foursquare to their social media marketing mix. Here are some ways they could do it:

  • Incentivize Foursquare checkins. They've already had more than 25,000 people share virtual donuts on Facebook--which is great and all, but what's the real value in people exchanging pretend donuts? Is it is great as real people going to actual Dunkin' Donuts franchises and purchasing stuff? No. Dunkin' Donuts already sees the value in social sharing; how about taking that one step further and encouraging people to actually GO to their stores and share that? Foursquare offers some great suggestions to businesses on how to do it--or just ask me--I've got plenty of ideas.
  • Base ad campaigns on Foursquare. Subway did it with Jared. Taco Bell attempted to do it with Christine...but caught a heap of flack about it. (which, incidentally, is bullshit--Taco Bell is my favorite fast food restaurant and I've been swearing by their low-fat selections for over 10 years...including when I lost over 50 pounds not once but twice. Rock on Taco Bell and don't let the haters get you down....but I digress.) So, donuts--the fare of cops and fat people, right? Bite your tongue! How about using Foursquare to promote Dunkin' Donuts healthy offerings? Feature real people--like, say, me, who eat there several times a week--or hell, I'm sure there are people who eat there daily--who are fit and swear by stuff like the egg white turkey sausage flatbread? We exist. And we are living proof that you can eat donuts and not be fat.
  • Do market research. When people check in on Dunkin' Donuts, encourage them to share what they ordered and how it was. Dominos recently used focus groups to redesign their pizza; how about using Foursquare to get feedback on the menu and then tweak it accordingly? 
  • Make mayorship mean something. Smartphones are becoming more and more ubiquitous and Foursquare traffic has tripled since November. But it takes a decent amount of effort on the customer's part to use Foursquare, especially frequently enough to obtain the coveted status of mayor of a place. Now we do it because it's novel and there's some kitsch value in declaring to the world that you're the mayor of Dunkin' Donuts. But beyond that novelty, what's in it for that cross section of your customers who are both brand devotees and well-connected in the social media space? Not much. It takes time to manually add a new location to Foursquare, patience to wait on Foursquare to work while you're checking in, even more time if you want us to share check-ins on Facebook and Twitter. Giving mayors--those who are making a statement to the world that they visit your establishment on a regular basis and are proud enough of it to announce it on Twitter and Facebook--a discount or a free donut or cup of coffee now and then costs you virtually nothing, but ensures that they'll keep checking and in and spreading the word.
  • Become a case study and get great publicity for your brand. How psyched is Comcast to be the poster child of successful use of Twitter for customer service? How much good press have they and @Comcastcares super-star Frank Eliason gotten? A lot. What Comcast did for Twitter Dunkin' Donuts could do for Foursquare. If they don't, I guarantee you, some company will.