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Which restaurant chains score high on social media?

Data company Engagement Brands ranks quick-service and casual-dining brands

Retaining social-media audiences has become a key focus for restaurant brands, both in quick service and casual dining, according to technology and data company Engagement Labs.

Toronto-based Engagement Labs has released a ranking, based on its proprietary eValue measurement, of restaurant brands and how they are performing on the three major social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The company also ranked the brands on how they were faring in word-of-mouth conversations, using its TalkTrack tool, created by Engagement Lab’s Keller Fay Group.

The rankings found that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts topped quick-service eValue ratings for quick-service on Facebook, which was measured between May, 4, 2015, and April 3, 2016. Krispy Kreme was followed by Wendy’s and then Whataburger, which had the highest engagement score of quick-service restaurants in the Top 10, Engagement Labs said.

A spokesperson said engagement measures the level of interaction (likes, comments, favorites, shares, clicks, etc.) generated by the brands content and how well its followers react to it.

Bryan Segal, CEO of Engagement Labs, said in a statement that “while restaurants are reaching audiences easily on social media, retention is the key focus for both quick-service and casual-dining restaurants as they aim to stay ahead of the competition by having consumers come back to their channels consistently and remain top of mind.”

Jimmy John’s scored best in responsiveness on Facebook.

In quick-service rankings on Twitter, Jimmy John’s ranked first and had the most likes and retweets per 1,000 followers. Twitter was also measured from May 4, 2015, through April 3, 2016. Chipotle ranked second, with the highest responsiveness rating, Engagement Labs said, using the platform for the live-tweeting of food safety initiatives at the E. coli problems of last fall and winter. Engagement Labs said Chipotle “responded frequently to consumer concerns to get ahead of the scandal.”

For quick-service rankings on Instagram, which were measured between Aug. 3, 2015 and April 3, 2016, Starbucks ranked first with the highest eValue and impact scores of all quick-service restaurants. An Engagement Labs spokesperson said the impact score measures how many unique users may be exposed to a piece of content posted by the channel through organic, viral and paid reach.

“Impact allows marketers to better understand and measure the quality of the audience they are targeting and how well their content is shared across a given channel,” she said.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts placed second on Instagram, which was measured Aug. 3, 2015 through April 3, 2016. Shake Shack ranked third with the highest engagement score and the most active user base.

“Our research showed while quick-service restaurants were scoring extremely high for impact, their social media success was hindered when their content wasn’t engaging their audiences enough or the brand lacked a significant response,” Segal said.

“A response strategy is critical for the restaurant industry, as we saw in the case of Chipotle,” Segal added. “Addressing both positive and negative matters is beneficial for a brand as it demonstrates to consumers a sense of accountability and honesty, which results in building trust.”

In casual-dining rankings on Facebook, measured between Feb. 1 and April 10, LongHorn Steakhouse ranked first, Red Lobster second and Applebee’s was third, with the neighborhood grill and bar brand also scoring the highest in impact. P.F. Chang’s, ranked No. 8 in the eValue ratings, generating the highest responsiveness score of the group, the company said.

Among casual-dining brands on Twitter, measured between Feb. 8 and April 10, Chili’s Grill & Bar ranked first, followed by Olive Garden and IHOP. LongHorn Steakhouse scored the highest response rating, Denny’s scored the highest engagement rating and Applebee’s earned the highest impact score.

For casual-dining brands on Instagram, Logan’s Roadhouse ranked first with the highest eValue, engagement and responsiveness scores, measured between Feb. 1 and April 10. Olive Garden ranked second, following closely behind Logan’s Roadhouse for responsiveness. IHOP scored the highest impact of the group.

“Brands within the competitive restaurant industry cannot rely solely on online conversations to retain customer business,” said Segal. “It is imperative to understand that offline word of mouth can be just as impactful as online conversations, especially in the restaurant industry where recommendations drive so many purchasing decisions.”

In an analysis of the TalkTrack data for both the quick-service and casual-dining restaurants, Dairy Queen showcased the most offline growth of conversation for quick service restaurants and The Cheesecake Factory and Golden Corral demonstrated the most growth for casual-dining restaurants.

Engagement Labs maintains offices in Toronto, Montreal, London and New Brunswick, N.J.

For more on social media, check out NRN's Social 200. The NRN Social 200 is a daily look and ranking of the social media activities of the nation’s largest restaurant chains. Built with social analytics firm Sprinklr, the NRN Social 200 index quantifies restaurant brand efforts and consumer engagement with scoring from 0-1,000.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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