Brand love and the social consumer - SmartBrief

All Articles Food Brand love and the social consumer

Brand love and the social consumer

6 min read


Measuring brand love is a sophisticated romance between art and science, and while the technology involved has a lot of moving parts, the premise boils down to one simple fact: people describe how they feel about this or that, including brands, and these descriptions can be coded, aggregated, and analyzed to measure sentiment.

Before social media, these descriptions were shared directly among family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. If I own a restaurant, for example, I might stroll around chatting with customers, asking how they are enjoying their meal. Outside of the establishment, I might run into my third cousin at the grocery store and she might say “I just had a great lunch at XYZ Café.” I don’t need complicated software to recognize the word ‘great’ and infer that she enjoyed her experience at XYZ. If I hear much the same thing from others in my circle, I have my own home-made sentiment analysis — people I know like XYZ Café. As a diner, it’s nice to have the recommendation. But if I’m the owner at XYZ, I have no way of knowing when my customers are sharing the love (or the dissatisfaction).

Since the advent of social media, every one of my customers could be recommending (or dissing) my café, and not just to a neighbor, but potentially to an unlimited number of total strangers. Measuring sentiment today, therefore, involves computer recognition of descriptive words and phrases, both positive and negative, associated with specific brands. The process can be called ‘sentiment extraction’ and requires a database of thousands of possible positive, negative, and neutral words and phrases used in association with a brand. That’s a lot of “signal to noise” for restaurateurs to understand and manage.

At DigitalCoCo, we separate out all the noise so you can manage your brand according to your customers’ needs and expectations.

A quick look at how we do it

Everything starts with our Facebook Top 100 Restaurant Brandsdatabase, which tracks the approximately 187 million consumer restaurant brand “Likes” on Facebook. Many restaurant consumers “Like” more than one restaurant brand, and we can identify the 127 million unique individual consumers who generate these total Likes. That’s more than half — 56% to be exact — of the total U.S. adult population! But this remarkable density of coverage isn’t the end of the story, because we drill down into that density to identify the more than 34 million individuals who are super influencers among restaurant customers with our companion social analytics platform, Social Insights. We built this tool to serve in part as a trend prediction engine, based on advocate trends and the massive index of industry terms we’ve collected over more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant business. Social Insights is the most robust restaurant monitor in use today, measuring the daily interactions of more than 34 million super influencer consumers with 3,400 restaurant brands across 160,000 brand locations.

Understanding what this 127 million U.S. consumers are choosing when they eat out — and why is the future of how the restaurant business will conduct predictive analysis from social. Within this group, we can tap into the 34 million super influencers whose active engagement with restaurant brands is priceless and quite possible the future of how restaurants will begin to break away from their competitors.

Hopelessly Devoted to You: Best loved brands

Our Q1 data show the restaurant brands consumers love most. We track more than 3,400 restaurant entities and these are the top dogs in the first quarter of 2012.

1. Starbucks leads the pack with a soaring Consumer Sentiment (CS) score of 72. The coffee-and-community giant’s score puts Starbucks in the pre-eminent consumer sentiment position among fast-casual brands. With 2.3 million Twitter followers and nearly 30 million Facebook Likes, Starbucks ranks first across social media scores.

2. Red Mango is a close second with 69.8 on the CS scale. The top-shelf frozen yogurt and smoothie purveyor is ranked third on the overall Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI). Only 5 years old, Red Mango embraced social media early on, and has gathered 525,000 Facebook Likes and 51,333 Twitter followers.

3. Peets comes in third with a score of 62.7 in Q1. Started in 1966 in Berkeley Calif., Peets Coffee and Tea ranks ninth on the overall RSMI, with 13,000 Twitter followers and 139,000 Facebook Likes.

4. The number four spot is held by Bonefish Grill, a St. Petersburg, Fla., eatery whose mission is to “laugh more and worry less”. Bonefish Grill scored 60.9 on the Consumer Sentiment scale, and ranks 18th on the RSMI. Bonefish started tweeting in 2009 and has gained 8,870 followers. It has 164,321 Facebook Likes.

5. Buffalo Wild Wings is fifth in Consumer Sentiment, and ranks 10th on the Twitter scale, with more than 88,000 followers and a 46.42% growth rate in Q1. These wild wing kings also rank sixth on the Facebook scale, with 7,085,079 Likes, and are eighth on the RSM Index.

6. At 60.1, Boudin Sourdough Bakery and Café is the sixth highest-ranking brand for Consumer Sentiment. Boudin is 52nd on the RSMI Top 100 list, and has 20,546 Facebook Likes. The creator of the original San Francisco Sourdough French Bread has been tweeting since 2009 and has 4,065 followers.

7. Wendy’s is firing on all social media cylinders: number seven in Consumer Sentiment (58.9), 13th on the Twitter ranking (66,654 followers), 21st on the Facebook scale (2,202,595 Likes in Q1), and second overall on the RSMI.

8. Noodles & Company comes in eighth, just a hair behind Wendy’s, with a Consumer Sentiment score of 58.8. The recipient of a number of business and industry awards, Noodles has 4,489 Twitter followers and 129,135 Facebook Likes. It is 36th on the RSMI index.

9. Like Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Wendy’s, ninth-place Chick-fil-A has enviable scores across the top social media measures: The ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ place scores 58.2 on Consumer Sentiment, seventh on Twitter, ninth on Facebook, and fifth overall on the RSMI.

Update on Sentiment Data for Chick-fil-A on July 29, 2012 — Consumer sentiment has dropped significantly from a top score of 58.2 in overall sentiment to 28.7, one of the lowest scores in all of the Restaurant Social Media Index. This update would drop Chick-fil-A from a top five ranking in the RSMI to out of the Top 25.

10. Rounding out the top ten most loved restaurant brands, Texas Roadhouse scores a 55.3 on Consumer Sentiment. Texas Roadhouse has nearly 4,000 Twitter followers, 1,482,535 Facebook Likes, and is ranked 79th on the RSMI Top 100.

Get your restaurant or hospitality brand registered in the Restaurant Social Media Index at

Intrigued? Want to have a second date with our data? Get the full Top 100 Most Loved Restaurant Brands Report from DigitalCoCo.

Paul Barron is a Web entrepreneur who launched several successful restaurant and hospitality trade websites, events and think tanks. He is credited with starting the fast-casual restaurant revolution when he launched in the 1990s. He is the founder of DigitalCoCo, a social media analytics and creative agency in South Florida.