So you say you have 500 fans on Instagram? And another 5,000 on Facebook? What would it take to get a million followers? How about a million-and-a-half? Dunkin’ Donuts has done just that, so the social media management experts at 101 Management, Inc., thought you’d like to know a few of their secrets.

It helps to be huge

Dunkin’ Donuts (now known simply as “Dunkin’ ”) was founded in 1950 and has cornered over a quarter of the coffee market in the U.S. It has more than 11,000 restaurants in 44 countries, selling over 18 billion cups of coffee a year. So it’s little wonder it can capture so many of Instagram’s billion daily users.

Of course, the company also has an in-house marketing team, a media buying agency, and a creative agency helping them blanket the social media world. Nevertheless, you can pick up some of their techniques to expand your own follower base.

It helps to be focused

Here is their methodology, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Kevin Vine, Dunkin’ Donuts’ interactive marketing manager, told Adweek:

“Our social media strategy is aimed at growing and maintaining a highly engaged community of Dunkin’ Donuts fans. We work to consistently provide meaningful content and promote a two-way dialogue between the brand and our passionate fans. We’re a fun brand, and our guests who rely on us for coffee and donuts expect a little fun from us by making Dunkin’ Donuts part of their daily lives through status updates with pictures or questions or with fun challenges and sweepstakes tied to our marketing calendar initiatives.

“We also want to surprise and delight them with unique Dunkin’ Donuts content through special images and boards dedicated to what’s going on in our office, or by sharing special, one-of-a-kind donuts at our restaurants around the world.”

It helps to have a strategy

So let’s examine each of these elements.

“Meaningful content”

Each business will have its own unique definition of “meaningful” content, depending on the types of fans they’re seeking. Some of Dunkin’ Donuts’ content includes sweepstakes, contests, behind-the-scenes looks at staffers, and polls embedded in their Instagram Stories.

“Two-way dialogue”

Think of the old Zen koan: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” Or, more to our point, if you comment and no one responds, do you feel heard? If people are commenting on your Instagram feed, they need acknowledgement, so be sure to always respond to comments and posts.

And ask followers to share their own photos. Not only will they enjoy seeing their input on your feed, they’ll likely tag you in their own posts. Dunkin’ Donuts has asked fans to share Dunkin’ Donuts moments, for example. One contest asked them to decorate their Dunkin’ Donuts cups for Halloween. Another asked people to post pictures showing how their relationship with someone “runs on Dunkin’.”

“A little fun”

Dunkin’ Donuts is fortunate in that it markets itself as a “fun” brand, as opposed to its other major competitor, Starbucks, which sees itself as more serious. Because “fun” is also the focus of Instagram, and play is the order of the day on the platform. The typical Instagrammer wants to be entertained; otherwise, why follow the site?

A recent example of a Dunkin’ post:

“If they:
-never text you back
-are insanely popular
-are the star of everyone’s social media
-constantly brag about how people want them back
They’re not your bae.
They’re a Dunkin’ Pumpkin-flavored coffee.”

The “fun” vibe attracts the coveted millennial and younger audiences.

“Daily” contact

By posting once or twice a day, you become a part of your fans’ lives. More often than that and you risk seeming “spammy”; less often, and you risk being forgotten.

The company also takes every—and any—opportunity to tie a post to something relevant. They have posts keyed all the major holidays, as well as Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, even Friday the 13th (“The only thing scarier than Friday the 13th is Friday the 13th without coffee”).

For more tips on how to market effectively on Instagram, talk to our social media management experts today!