The following is a guest post by Tyler Cyr, Web Communications Manager at Dunkin' Brands.

DunkinBrandsDreamforce 2011 was the occasion for the second gathering of the Social Advisory Board.  As part of the meeting, I was interviewed by Brian Solis for his Revolution YouTube series. We spoke a lot about how at Dunkin’ Donuts, we focus our social media efforts on being fan-centric and driving engagement.

Dunkin’ Donuts is lucky -- and somewhat unique -- in that our customers interact with us and our products every day.  We talk about the morning stop for coffee and breakfast as a ‘ritual.’ Indeed, so many of the tweets and posts to our Facebook wall talk of how fans’ days don’t truly start until they’ve had their Dunkin’ Donuts, or how we help them get through their day, and even that we’re saving their lives!

In New England and other parts of the Northeast, this is taken to an even higher level. If you’re not from here, you may not be able to fully grasp the level to which our brand is not only a part of people’s lives, but their history, as well. In many areas of our cities and towns, “There’s a Dunk’s on every corner” is not an exaggeration.  Where I live, there are five within a mile and a half of my house.

When we have a customer and fan base that’s already so invested in their daily interactions with us, it’s a natural progression that this will continue online, in social media channels.

What we’d love is to have that level of passion and engagement that our customers already have for us in the brick and mortar world translate into the digital and social media world. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish when we say our goal is to have the highest possible engagement with our fans in social. We’re lucky enough to have a pre-built community that we can enhance by engaging our fans in social. And, I think we’re doing it, we’re doing it well, and we’re getting better at it.

The other aspect of our social media engagement is that of customer service. Social media has given fans and customers an easy and direct route to get in touch with companies to discuss the service they receive and their satisfaction with that service and our products. It should come as no surprise that staying engaged with these fans is of paramount importance to us at Dunkin’. Surely it can be a challenge, as the level of grievances we see range from the relatively mundane to potentially serious issues.  But it’s tremendously rewarding at the end of the day when a previously disgruntled customer comes back to post what a great job our customer care team did in reaching out and helping to resolve their issue. Sometimes just the simple act of reaching out and saying, “Hey, sorry that happened. How can we help?” is enough to make a customer very happy.

When we recorded this interview back in early September, we had just eclipsed 4 million fans on our Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page. We’re now about to hit the 5 million mark. Fan counts are great and obviously they’re an important metric; nobody is going to tell you that they already have enough fans. The thing we’re so proud of is that despite this rapid fan growth over the last half of the year, our engagement rates have actually gone up. We’re growing our fan base with real, invested and dedicated Dunkin’ fans. What that says to me is that we’re doing our job in providing content and channels that our fans like, that gives them an opportunity to talk back to us, and that they want to share with their friends, as well.

Watch the full interview with Brian to hear more about how we’re building our community and engaging with our fans.