Double Trouble for Dunkin’ Donuts

By Mikinzie Stuart (@mikinzie)

If any of you “Like” Dunkin’ Donuts on Facebook, you might have noticed something less than palatable appear on your news feed recently. This is because Dunkin’ Donuts was spammed on their Facebook page earlier this week with provocative links and images (seeing as these images are NSFW, we will just say they involve young women and the phrase “scantily clad”).

Hmm... something's missing.

Contrary to what you may think, the real crime wasn’t the spam itself; it was the fact that it took Dunkin’ Donuts 12 HOURS to acknowledge the spamming to their Facebook community. Even after the initial wave of images was finally removed, naughty photos and links kept showing up, flooding the company’s Facebook page throughout the following day.

Fellow SHIFT colleague, John Carter, noticed one of the racy spam videos pop up on his Facebook news feed and brazenly “liked” the spicy video. To prove a point, of course.

“More than anything, I think it points to the gap between content creation and community management when it comes to social media. If you look at Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook page and other initiatives, they’re doing some really great stuff; the donut creation contest and fan of the week are both absolutely genius. But their actual one-on-one interaction with consumers is rudimentary (at least on Facebook),” said Carter.

While DD Facebook fans waited and watched to see how the company would respond, it was disappointing when Dunkin’ Donuts followed up with a simple boilerplate apology to angry comments left on the Facebook wall by loyal customers:

“Thanks for your concern. We’re responsible for protecting the integrity of this community and take this very seriously. In accordance with DD Facebook Etiquette, all of these posts have been removed, flagged and banned. Any future posts of this nature will also be dealt with accordingly. We’ve always tried to keep our Facebook page open for fans to share and post links, pics and videos. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be a few individuals who abuse this. But rest assured that we’re on top of this and will always do everything in our power to keep this type of content off our fan page. Thanks, Ben”

As the conversation around the Facebook flop moved to Twitter, it was clear the damage had been done. Even though Dunkin’ Donuts quickly responded to customer tweets about the spammers, the fall-out had solidified, with complaints about: 1) the fact that it happened (and was left unattended) in the first place, and 2) a weak attempt to resolve the problem via a blanket apology.

So, what can be learned from DD’s double-down? Too many brands are concerned with the fancy bells and whistles of their social media space and forget that they need to have someone moderating the content. Granted, mistakes do happen: Dunkin’ Donuts could have had technical difficulties with the Internet down all day; the person in charge of monitoring the Facebook page and scanning for coverage could have been off sick that day; or maybe, and more likely – the company wasn’t investing enough time in regularly checking up on its Facebook page.

As one of the administrators of SHIFT Communications Facebook page, I check the space multiple times a day. I do this not only to moderate what is being posted on the Facebook page wall, but to understand what is important to SHIFT’s various audiences and what it takes to maintain the outward image of our company.

It’s just unfortunate that, as of late, Dunkin’ Donuts has been outdone by those other double Ds.

19 Responses to “Double Trouble for Dunkin’ Donuts”

  1. 1 Elizabeth August 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Very insightful, Mikinzie. As you pointed out, it’s a good reminder that you can have some amazing looking tabs or compelling coupon offers and contest going on, but fan pages are first and foremost about the community.

  2. 2 worob August 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Good post, Mikinzie!

    PR at Sunrise –

  3. 3 Jason Mollica August 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Nice job, Mikinzie. Goes to show you that we ALWAYS need to be monitoring ours and our clients social media efforts. No excuse for that NSFW content staying up for 12 hours without a response.

  4. 4 aribadler August 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Good overview Mikinzie.

    The trouble is that too many companies are seeing social media outlets as “free,” when the reality is that they take time and effort from staff members. Often, those employees in many cases have this added to their workload because they know how to do it, whether they have room on their plate for something else or not.

    I’m often asked when consulting and presenting on social media, “How do we find time to do this?” The answer is that something else you’ve been doing but is no longer delivering enough bang for the buck has to go. You can’t simply tack on social media/social networking and treat it like a hobby. It’s becoming a serious business and needs to be treated as such or you are doomed to have disasters like this strike.

    ~ Ari

  5. 5 Justin Goldsborough August 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Nice analysis, Mikinzie. And the last line of your post is solid, very solid :).

    I couldn’t agree more with Ari. I think this lack of monitoring falls into the same camp we often find ourselves as an agency (bet you do to) in with measurement — not enough time, money and resources to execute it effectively.

    SHIFT is lucky to have someone like you monitoring and discussing your own Facebook pages as well as these types of industry issues. I think a next step for us as agency reps is to use examples like this to show clients what kind of resources actually need to be dedicated to social media and to help our clients figure out what to take off peoples’ plates.

    Best, @jgoldsborough

  6. 6 Al Sacco August 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    This seems like a silly post to me. Facebook pages get hacked. It happens all the time. Sure, it’s unfortunate that DD staffers didn’t resolve the problem sooner, but if it bothers you that much, “dislike” the fan page, and forget about it.


    • 7 prcog August 26, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      I think the point is being missed here (and I mean the comment, not the post). This isn’t a kvetch about NSFW content on a FB page, it’s a review/mini-analysis of best practices in the marketing biz.

      We should also clarify one thing first – this wasn’t a hack – DD expects fans (likers) to post content to the wall – that’s the entire purpose.

      The real problem is just what you point out at the end.

      We’re in the marketing biz – we don’t want anyone to ‘dislike’ our page (or our brand for that matter). And golly, if customers are going to dislike us it might as well be for something the company itself has actually done (or not done), not because someone was asleep at the wheel.

  7. 8 Maggie McGary August 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Part of the blame for this, I think, rests on Facebook ultimately not offering adequate features for businesses to use it effectively. Facebook doesn’t offer any type of alert feature for admins to let them know when new items are posted on their Page’s wall, or when new comments are added to a company’s post. There are a few third-party apps that do this, but they are spotty at best and certainly not reliable enough to replace the need for 24/7 human monitoring of a Page.

    This is where social media doesn’t scale right. Barring having an employee or set of employees who literally monitor the Facebook page 24/7 there is no way (other than turning off commenting and wall post capability) that a company can reasonably prevent something like this from happening. I am the admin for several pages and I can tell you, no matter how often you check it, you can check it one minute later and someone may have posted something offensive. Even community managers have to eat and sleep and go to the bathroom! Also, my experience has been that spammers tend to post late at night or over the weekend–moderating those comments in real-time requires a high level of commitment on the part of the community manager. Are companies going to be willing to pay a full-time community manager to stay on top of this kind of stuff?

    • 9 SHIFT Staff August 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      You raise a valid point, Maggie – and I agree that even a 24/7 community manager should have the right to go to the bathroom! I think eventually Facebook will have to cater to its business customers by creating fan page admin capabilities that allow for spam filtering. At the same token, a Facebook page IS a lot of work and a brand as big as DD will have to have employees monitoring the page daily regardless. I will give them props for leaving up posts by employees venting their frustration even after the images were removed, including comments/responses from the company.

  8. 10 Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA August 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting comments. It all boils down to those of us who are responsible for communicating on behalf of employers or clients being vigilant.

    This isn’t new…when newspapers were the communication medium of choice, we monitored them religiously. When radio and then television came on the scene, ditto for the vigilance.

    Today, if you’re going to have a web presence, the same rules apply. Yet the same conversations bubble up over and over.

    Communication isn’t made “simpler” with the advent of new platforms on which to communicate. If anything, it is more complicated because of the immediate lack of control over the message.

    The days of waiting to hold a “crisis meeting” to determine the “correct” response are gone.

    I still recall a mildly snarky comment I made online late one evening regarding a particular company’s communications in a crisis. Kudos to the communication manager who posted a response within a half hour!

  9. 11 klkaye August 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I am going to take the conversation in a different direction, if I may …

    When I read this post the point that stood out to me was “it was disappointing when Dunkin’ Donuts followed up with a simple boilerplate apology to angry comments”.

    I think this speaks to the real impact of the community’s reaction — which is the goal behind it all.

    Community management is really hard because of the multiple generations that are participating on FB. Every generation cares about something different and responds to situations like this in very different ways.

    How can you please all of your fans all of the time?


  10. 12 Aaron Strout August 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Mikinzie – nicely done. And thanks for including my Tweet in your post. Maggie brings up an interesting point that I think is being overlooked these days i.e. it would be nice if Facebook stepped up it’s game on the “tools” front. With that said, I know enough about moderation and community management to know that NO major business should EVER have any kind of spam up on their site during work hours for more than a few hours (if more than an hour).

    BTW, LOVE your picture of Homer w/ his donut. A perfect way to kick things off.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout

  11. 13 Dustin Plett August 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Great post and great comments. Being in the social media moderation space I’m always interested in others thoughts on the subject.

    In my humble opinion though, the grace period is over. There are a host of solutions out there to combat this very thing. Any company going into social media unaware of these solutions is simply not doing their due diligence. There are both tools and services out there than can help reduce, and all but eliminate this type of threat. And it’s cheap.

    I get it. Facebook is social media and you have have to have thick skin to play in this space, bad things are going to happen. But there is big difference between someone saying they don’t like your donuts and posting links to porn. I don’t think we are that far away from people starting to consider this corporate irresponsibility considering there are ways to prevent it.

    Keep in mind though, I am part of a moderation company that prevents this from happening to many of the world’s busiest Facebook fanpages so I’m biased.


  12. 14 Bryan Person August 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Mikinzie and others like Aaron have raised a great point here: Facebook’s native moderation tools are not adequate for the needs of high-volume sites. Wall spam is becoming an increasing problem. There’s no notification of new comments to the Wall. That means page admins have to remember where they left off last time, and then manually read through all the new posts from fans and comments to posts from the brand. There’s also no easy way to a delete a spammer from a Page (you can manually remove someone, but you first have to find him/her in the full list of fans. Paging through 20-30 names at a time over tens or hundreds of thousands of names to find one trouble-maker could take *hours*).

    But we also know enough about Facebook to know not to depend on its product road map to necessarily see those tools any time soon. And regardless of the technology, any brand that’s establishing a Facebook presence should also have sound community management and moderation guidelines, including escalation procedures (especially if those services are outsourced). We’re continuing to see the consequences of what happens when companies fail to take that part of their social media marketing seriously.

  13. 15 Amanda Lehner October 26, 2010 at 4:32 am

    This just goes to show how important social media is to a company and its customers. Yes, Facebook could step up its game with notifications to administrators, but overall it should be up to the company to ensure that incidents like this do not occur. With such a great number of people on social media sites, it is vital that companies are constantly monitoring and updating information on their sites. This could have happened to any company, and unfortunately, Dunkin’ Donuts showed that it is lagging in the social media department. The one-on-one interactions with customers ensure keep customers loyal, and failing to maintain positive relationships will only lose customers in the long run. Dunkin’ Donuts should learn a lesson from Popeye’s and keep positive, individual relationships with customers through social media.

  14. 16 Klaus September 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    You actually make it seem really easy together with your presentation but
    I in finding this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I would
    never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very vast for me.
    I am having a look forward in your next put up, I will try to get the hold
    of it!

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