The Most Engaging Fast Food Brands in Social Media

Posted on April 25th 2012

The Most Engaging Fast Food Brands in Social Media

Fast Food loves social media. And while giant national chains dominate the Television airwaves with slick and expensive ad campaigns, Social Media is a different kind of playing field where success is more accurately measured by a brand’s level of Social Engagement.

Track Social monitors a brand’s Social Media Engagement by measuring response levels to different type of social content, such as Posts and Tweets, and by benchmarking brands against each other.

Here is the Top Ten Fast Food Brands in Social Media Engagement:

1. Krispy Kreme
2. Chick-fil-A
3. Wienerschnitzel
4. Taco Bell
5. McDonald’s
6. El Pollo Loco
7. Wendy’s
8. Jack in the Box
9. Whataburger
10. Jamba Juice

To see the full leaderboard, and numerous other analytics on the activity of fast food brands in social media, check out the Track Social Fast Food Zone.

For those interested in how what we can learn from the leading players in Social Media Engagement, including some brands that are not as well known as others, we provide some interesting case studies below.

Krispy Kreme

If there’s one thing Krispy Kreme can teach us, it’s that the glazed doughnut has the power to work miracles. Not only did its original glazed doughnut fuel Krispy Kreme’s (now notorious) national expansion, it also preserved the company when it grew too fast. Whatever mistakes Krispy Kreme made in the early 2000s, America simply would not allow the melt-in-you-mouth glazed goodness to disappear forever. In fact, not only is the glazed doughnut the centerpiece of Krispy Kreme’s business model, it’s also the star attraction of its Facebook page. A recent post featuring a simple picture of a glazed doughnut with the caption, “Ooo, original glazed” generated over 32,000 Likes in just five days. When you’ve got something people love, there’s no shame in leading with it.

Chick-fil-A

Currently embroiled – or is it deep fried? – in controversy over what kinds of causes its philanthropic foundation supports, Chick-fil-A might be facing calls for boycotts in some quarters, but the chicken seller, famous for its devious “spokes-cows,” is number two when it comes to online engagement. Having recently racked up it 5 millionth Facebook Fan, its Facebook engagement strategy reflects the company’s tendency to march to their own drum.

When was the last time you saw a post like this: “Nothing against Facebook…but nothing beats some good old-fashioned backyard games with the family. Download our activities and head outside.” That’s right, Chick-fil-A has created an entire “Old School Fun” Facebook app devoted to suggestions for old fashioned “offline” engagement. So it’s a bit paradoxical that a brand devoting time to getting people off Facebook seems to do so well keeping them on.

But it’s not hard to see why: their posts are generally creative, light and – like the spokes-cows themselves – innocently sassy. Their April Fools post was also one of the best we saw this year, and garnered over 10,000 responses.

Aside from Facebook, Chick-fil-A rocks when it comes to Twitter engagement. Actively replying to countless fans that mention @ChickfilA, Chick-fil-A uses Twitter largely as a customer service outlet. This communication via Twitter is important – not only to hear complaints and take recommendations, but also to self-promote without cost. Retweeting pics and declarations of followers’ love for the Banana Pudding Milkshake can do wonders for a brand’s engagement. One of the best things Chick-fil-A does with Twitter? Announce openings of new Chick-fil-A chains and build hype with free PR: “#First100 customers get free meals 4 a yr.” No doubt will they have fans camping out prior to the grand opening.

Wienerschnitzel

Compared to some of the huge national chains on our list, Wienerschnitzel is a smaller, regional brand (mostly in California and the southwest). That’s why their presence in our top 10 – let alone coming in at number 3 – is so significant.

For Wienerschnitzel, the success of their posts is all about using images effectively. Every post and update has a fun image attached, strategically deigned to elicit Likes. And they do. This one especially.

McDonald’s

The 800 lbs. gorilla. Yes, its presence on any fast food-related top ten is pretty much requisite. Over 18 million Facebook, billions and billions served, blah blah blah…

But here’s a little secret about McDonald’s engagement strategy: they’re cheating. McDonald’s doesn’t allow users to post their own comments to its timeline wall. That means anything you want to say to (or about) McDonald’s on Facebook has to be posted as a comment on one of McDonald’s own official posts. This naturally bumps up the numbers for response per post, making McDonald’s posts look more Like-able than they might actually be.

Jack in the Box

Coming in at a respectable number 8, Jack in the Box is another regional brand doing remarkably well in online engagement. As you’d expect from their idiosyncratic, risk-taking TV campaigns, Jack in the Box’s Facebook presence affects a similarly hard-to-put-your-finger-on randomness. (Kind of like their menu, come to think of it.)

“Hi, I’m Jack,” their Facebook timeline heading declares, “If you like tasty fast food and snarky updates, our Facebook future is bright.” Of all the brands in our top ten, Jack in the Box has taken the most risk using it’s Facebook posts to establish the Jack “character” by posting updates that purport to be Jack’s own quirky musings. Not all of them are successful (“Plural of walrus is… walruses? Walri? Anyone?”) but it does represent a bold experiment that seems to be paying off.

These signature Jack posts aren’t just for Facebook Fans. The same sort of randomness can be found on Jack in the Box’s Twitter account, explaining why their Twitter engagement is so great. Like Chick-fil-A, Jack in the Box uses Twitter as an opportunity to communicate with consumers – but rather than the generic “thank you” tweet, Jack thinks outside the box. “Thanks for being down with the Jack in the Box cause. You’re definitely a top ten pick for my dodgeball team,” or “Thanks. You are a true fan. Not like my neighbor who pretends to like my dog to get free Tacos. That dude’s totally fake.” We gotta hand it to Jack for knowing how to make happy customers laugh and feel special.

Whataburger

America loves ketchup. That appears to be the take-away lesson for the top-10 success of hamburger chain Whataburger, who, like Wienerschnitzel, is hitting above its weight in the social engagement category.

So many of this month’s posts on the Whatburger Facebook page were devoted to the tomato-based condiment that we started to wonder if there was a holiday we’d missed. There’s ketchup everywhere. Fancy ketchup. Spicy ketchup. Limited time only ketchup. And it seems to have struck a national nerve. When almost 16,000 people Like this post: “Like this picture if you love Whataburger’s Fancy Ketchup” we must either conclude Whataburger has struck red gold…or addictive chemicals are involved.

Facebook remains a space for brands to define their relationship with consumers based on more than just how many TV spots they can buy. Building interest and retaining loyalty through real engagement is about creativity and ingenuity. And even McDonald’s doesn’t have a lock on those.

Is your favorite go-to fast food brand missing above?  Find out where it landed on here on Track Social’s Fast Food Zone!

Morgan J. Arnold

Morgan J. Arnold

CEO, Track Social

Morgan J. Arnold is a marketing entrepreneur with a PhD in Engineering. Morgan is CEO of Track Social, the leader in Engagement Optimization.

Track Social monitors, aggregates and analyzes the Social Media accounts of thousands of businesses across multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Track Social provides a self-serve Analytics Platform as well as Professional Reporting, Social Advertising and Enterprise Consulting services.

Morgan is also CEO of Sprokkit, The Smart Marketing Agency.

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