Specializing in custom creations that are always made to order, N.J-based independent doughnut shop Broad Street Dough Co (BSDC) has gained a legion of loyal customers, with patrons traveling from hours away just to enjoy the shop’s treats. In less than two years of operation, BSDC has emerged as one of the state’s most popular doughnut shops.
In 2015, lotus823 partnered with BSDC to offer the growing business online marketing services, including full-scale social media management. In 2016, as the shop approached its second anniversary, lotus823 was tasked with developing a strategy to promote the shop’s offerings on National Doughnut Day (June 3, 2016).
“The rise in popularity of artisanal doughnuts brought new competition to the Jersey Shore in 2016. This presented a challenge in capturing customers and driving them to BSDC and not their competitors. To achieve this, we identified what made Broad Street different and capitalized on it,” says Vicki Marziale, Account Executive, lotus823. “This included taking BSDC’s trademark social media engagement offline, cultivating an experience for customers with a custom Snapchat Geofilter that could only be used within the shop. We also used a Facebook Live broadcast to share the Doughnut Day excitement with those who weren’t currently in the shop. This reinforced the idea that Broad Street Dough Co was the place to be and a “can’t miss” experience on National Doughnut Day.”
Despite a small budget and tight deadline, lotus823 worked diligently to create a unique Doughnut Day experience that would cement existing customers as brand loyalists and capture a new audience along the way. Read on to see how lotus823 met and exceeded those goals‑and earned a Bronze Award in the “Best Use of Digital/Social for a Food/Beverages/Restaurant Campaign” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2016 Digital/Social Awards.
The Challenge: “When working with a small local business you are often faced with the task of achieving big results on a small budget,” Marziale offers. “As social media becomes a ‘pay to play’ platform, it can be difficult to achieve high levels of engagement and reach without an advertising budget.”
lotus823’s outlined the following objectives for the campaign:
- Position BSDC as the premier doughnut shop in New Jersey – a “can’t miss” experience.
- Cultivate engagement and relationships with BSDC’s existing audience and increase reach across all major social media channels.
- Expand BSDC’s audience base through National Doughnut Day.
- Garner social buzz and local media attention to further promote BSDC’s brand.
Despite having amassed a large and dedicated fan base, BSDC was faced with intense competition. As artisanal doughnuts soared in popularity, a number of new shops opened in 2016, including some close to BSDC’s location. This presented the challenge of capturing customers and driving them to visit BSDC on National Doughnut Day and not to their many competitors. In order to stand out among the crowd, lotus823 would need to identify what differentiated BSDC from the competition.
The Strategy: “While the nature of our product—delicious doughnuts—may seem like a slam-dunk on social media, it was actually a challenge. We had to really dig through the many food influencers on social to find folks that were local to our shop,” Marziale, explains. “Through social media monitoring on Twitter, we have been able to identify a key group of local influencers and journalists. Most notably, a NJ.com food critic that we already had on our radar was inquiring on social about shops to visit on National Doughnut Day. By utilizing what we already knew about his beat coupled with our Doughnut Day specials, we were able to reach out to him on Twitter and then secure coverage in his NJ.com Doughnut Day feature.”
On National Doughnut Day 2015, there was minimal promotion on behalf of BSDC—and lotus823 sought to change this in 2016 by executing a strategy compromised of online and on-site experiences.
Part 1: Website Launch
lotus823 developed and launched BSDC’s first ever website, enhancing search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and allowing users to easily find the store online along with a “shoppable” menu. While having a website seems like a basic digital marketing strategy, BSDC had previously chosen to utilize social channels as its online home, rather than launch a dedicated website.
Developing a search-friendly website with a shoppable menu allowed new customers to find BSDC when seeking a local doughnut shop and browse selections while waiting in line on-site at the store. This functionality was particularly useful on National Doughnut Day, as lotus823 knew from the previous year that wait times would be increasingly longer than usual. The new website increased efficiency as customers were able to explore the menu on their phones, rather than waiting to make their selection at the register.
Part 2: Social Media Engagement
Social media has been a hallmark of BSDC since the shop’s opening in 2014, as customers are engaged on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram daily. For National Doughnut Day however, lotus823 sought a different approach. Showcasing BSDC’s masterfully created doughnuts was no longer a differentiator in this crowded market. Therefore, lotus823’s strategy focused on creating an experience that could only be achieved in the shop.
In order to cultivate an experience for customers and showcase how exciting the shop is, lotus823 executed two unique tactics. First, lotus823 created a custom Snapchat Geofilter for BSDC commemorating National Doughnut Day. The filter was live for 12 hours on the day of the event and was available only when inside the shop.
Second, lotus823 used Facebook Live to broadcast an inside look behind the counter as doughnuts were made live on National Doughnut Day. This also helped share the excitement of the on-site experience, as users online could see what was happening in the shop as it aired and reinforced that BSDC doughnuts were fresh and made to order.
lotus823’s third goal for social efforts during the week of National Doughnut Day was to stay active on all social channels. Many of the competitive stores grew strong followings on Instagram and some on Facebook, however many of them did not engage within Twitter. lotus823 targeted local reporters when engaging on Twitter the week of National Doughnut Day and most notably secured coverage in NJ.com through a direct Twitter conversation with a NJ.com reporter.
Part 3: A Social-Friendly On-Site Experience
lotus823 also worked to integrate on-site excitement in a way that was social friendly. While guests experienced long waits, lotus823’s social media efforts, including the Snapchat filter, kept them engaged and happy while on line. Special offers are common on National Doughnut Day, with even Dunkin Donuts hosting giveaways. However, lotus823 tapped into the FOMO phenomenon, creating a feeling that fans were missing out if they hadn’t shared a photo of their doughnuts on Instagram, posed with the larger than life inflatable doughnut found in BSDC’s shop, or used the Snapchat filter to show off that they snagged a box of BSDC doughnuts.
The Results: “We were truly blown away by the results of our Doughnut Day campaign, as we met all four of our original objectives,” Marziale says. “On social media we were able to grow Broad Street Dough Co’s social community and increase user engagement through entirely organic means and in time for the busy summer season. Meanwhile, our efforts on Snapchat allowed us to reach nearly 600 users while giving customers a unique in-store experience while they waited for their doughnuts.
The online marketing strategy developed and executed by lotus823 helped BSDC meet its objectives in the following ways:
- Find new ways to engage BSDC’s existing audience and increase reach across all major social media channels.
- The new website and Snapchat filter were new ways for the fans to engage with the brand, with nearly 600 users engaging with the Snapchat filter and fans spending nearly two minutes on the website to shop the menu both at home and in the store.
- Capture a new audience that may not have experienced BSDC prior to National Doughnut Day.
- Facebook Live gave an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the BSDC culture and the fresh, made to order doughnuts. The video is now BSDC’s most popular video on the Facebook page.
- Social buzz and on-site efforts caught the attention of local media who mentioned BSDC when covering National Doughnut Day deals and events.
- lotus823 ensured that social efforts were strong across all channels, identifying that most local reporters were active on Twitter while most of the local doughnut shops were active on Instagram. BSDC gained coverage in the Asbury Park Press (UVM: 433,122), NJ.com (UVM: 4,044,400), and by local foodie bloggers.
- Position BSDC as “the” premier doughnut shop in New Jersey and a “can’t miss” experience.
- lotus823 garnered coverage from New York City influencers like @EatMeNYC (30,739 followers) and @NYCdining (140,815 followers) with posts focusing on more than just National Doughnut Day. This was important moving into the summer season because of BSDC’s proximity to the Jersey Shore, a frequent destination for many NYC travelers during the summer months.
Social Community Growth (Doughnut Day 2016 vs. Doughnut Day 2015):
- Facebook reach increased by 75% while engagement saw a 154% increase year over year.
- Instagram saw a 720% increase in likes (14,710 vs. 1,792) and comments increased by 352% (565 vs. 125).
- Twitter experienced a 32% increase in organic impressions on National Doughnut Day (4,012 vs. 3,046).
Website Performance (June 3, 2016):
- 1,881 page views
- 1:51 average site duration
Facebook Live (June 3, 2016):
- 5,864 users reached
- 2,228 unique viewers
Snapchat Geofilter (June 3, 2016):
- 578 users
- 23,897 views
lotus823’s National Doughnut Day efforts allowed BSDC to strengthen its connection with its existing audience and establish a relationship with new customers as they head into a busy summer of slinging doughnuts at the Jersey Shore.
“This campaign reaffirmed my belief that organic marketing is not the dying breed some make it out to be,” Marziale explains. “It may take some extra effort and ingenuity, but the art of organic marketing is alive and well. As marketers, we can often get caught up in the routine of immediately launching paid advertising on social media. Sometimes the challenge of devising and implementing an organic strategy can help you put your creative skills to the test.”
Secrets of Success: “The key to success in this campaign was understanding our audience. In the year we’ve worked with Broad Street Dough Co, we’ve gained some valuable insights into what their customers respond to best,” says Marziale. “Never underestimate the importance of simply listening to what your audience is telling you.”
She offers the following insights to help you achieve similar results in your next campaign—demonstrating why lotus823 won a Bronze in Bulldog’s 2016 Digital/Social Awards.
- Know your audience—“As mentioned earlier, your best focus group is your existing audience. Listen to their feedback and change your strategy appropriately. Keep in mind that your audience on Facebook and your audience on Twitter may require dramatically different strategies. For example, our audience on Instagram loves looking at imagery of over the top doughnut creations while our Facebook audience wants to see how we’re more involved in the local community.”
- Keep one eye on the competition—“This is especially important for local businesses, when developing your strategy study what your competition is doing. More importantly, pinpoint what they aren’t doing. This allows you to identify opportunities for your client to succeed that may not have been immediately obvious. As a local doughnut shop, we realized that most of our competition was not consistent in their social media engagement so we made it a point to be the opposite of that.”
- Sell an experience—“Of course, the final goal is usually to sell a product or service, but selling your customers on an experience is extremely powerful. Why should they buy your product or visit your store? What kind of experience will they receive from you that can’t be achieved elsewhere? These questions are key.”