Duke Dining wants to market itself, and is looking to students' on social media—"influencers"—to help.

Kirsten Marinko, director of marketing at Duke Dining, discussed how the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee could contribute to marketing strategies at its Thursday meeting. 

“Dining’s general marketing objectives are to increase brand awareness, increase exposure and to increase sales,” Marinko said.

She elaborated that Dining has four targeted audiences: students, faculty and staff, industry colleagues and alumni, parents and visitors. 

Members of DUSDAC can help Duke Dining achieve its marketing goals by serving as a brand ambassador and group of influencers, Marinko said. Their duties could range from promoting new products to tagging Duke Dining social media accounts in their own posts.

Marinko said that influencer marketing composes the highest proportion of all other types of marketing, according to a study examining the top content distribution strategies for 2018 by market share. Noting how such a role would be best fulfilled when posts are incorporated across all social media platforms, Marinko emphasized how she would want to “methodically plan out” such a relationship.

Samantha Glover, Trinity ’18, suggested that DUSDAC members follow the Duke Dining Instagram page because the account posts frequently. Marinko said they have gained followers from Glover's posts after she shared Duke Dining's updates on her own social media accounts. 

“I think becoming a brand influencer is a really good idea, especially if there is more structure or system of when to post and promote posts,” said DUSDAC Co-Chair Ethan Kwok, a junior.

First-year Alix Rosenberg suggested that Duke Dining could send a flyer to DUSDAC members to post on their Instagram stories.

Junior Allie Rauch said that she believes others outside of DUSDAC would be interested in becoming brand ambassadors and could potentially be offered food points in exchange for their work with Duke Dining.

However, senior Anna-Karin Hess brought up that although most people are active on social media, there are still some who are not. To reach out to them, she suggested that Duke Dining should look into getting push notifications through the Duke mobile app. Marinko said that Duke Dining has actually been looking into getting their own app, and later asked what DUSDAC members thought of blogging. Senior Caroline Bay proposed that blogs could focus on special aspects of dining, such as Café’s gelato kitchen. 

In other business:

DUSDAC discussed the new pop-up kitchen, the "Native American Kitchen." Kwok asked whether recipes were curated to be Native American food and if they collaborated with the Native American Student Alliance (NASA) in making the menu. Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, responded that the kitchen did collaborate with a student group, and that he would confirm whether it was NASA. 

In terms of the closing of Central Campus, Coffey added that he and Aris Marton, associate director of retail operations at Duke Dining, have started to look at some areas on West Campus for potential food trucks for the Fall 2019. 

“We were thinking of piloting [food trucks] in the spring semester but will wait for the fall semester for construction to be finished,” Coffey said. “We want to build excitement over the food truck lineup.”