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Chick-fil-A replaces Panera Bread at No. 1 spot in Q2 top national brands

4 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

The Q2 2015 Restaurant Social Media Index rankings are in!

Last quarter, Panera Bread took No. 1 for the Top 25 National Restaurant Brands of Q1 2015. This month, the artificial-ban brand falls to No. 4, and is replaced by Chick-fil-A. Check out the Top 10 list below, where we also delve deeper into the Top 3. What caused the chicken chain to be on top? And what other players have entered the national field of top brands?

How it works

The RSMI, owned by digital agency DigitalCoCo, is a social media index with domain expertise that tracks five main elements — influence, sentiment, engagement, location-based actions and mobile — across 17 social media platforms. Currently, the Index tracks more than 188K restaurant industry keywords and more than 127M U.S. social restaurant consumers in over 430K locations. Learn more about how the Index works.

Top 10 Restaurant Brands: Q2 2015

  1. Chick-fil-A: Chick-fil-A is one of those brands people seem to either love or hate. The chicken chain has been very vocal in the past about its conservative beliefs, but clearly, there’s been more positive brand buzz in Q2 than not considering the restaurant’s No. 1 position. Chick-fil-A also kicked off a strong Q3 with a lot of talk about its 11th Annual Cow Appreciation Day, where customers could score free food on July 14 if they dressed up like a cow.

At the end of Q1, Chick-fil-A rolled out a new Frosted Lemonade drink, a combination of fresh-squeezed lemonade and CFA’s Ice Dream soft serve (a once-secret mashup employees concocted for themselves). This new item rolled over into Q2 buzz. (A CFA store in Atlanta even filmed a rap video about it.) Other popular menu items in Q2 include Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken nuggets, a peach milkshake and a grilled market salad. The brand has also been pushing a lot of expert-authored pieces on its Inside Chick-fil-A microsite, a digital native content platform for the brand, housing pieces like millennial leadership tips and outdoor entertaining tips.

Social Score: 449.09 | Twitter followers: 577K | Instagram followers: 227K | Facebook fans: 7.3M

  1. Sonic Drive-In: June saw a lot of push for Sonic beverages with its “Celebrate Summer” campaign. The drive-in brand offered a deal on energy drinks before 10 a.m., half-off shakes after 8 p.m., and 79-cent slushes on June 24. At the beginning of June, NBA player Kevin Durant was featured in a commercial spot for Sonic’s new candy slushes. More mainstream media has been buzzing about Sonic, too, because it’s selling Kevin Durant’s actual slush — the one he drank out of: the candy, the straw and the liquid, all sold separately. In May, Sonic offered a corn dog deal (for 50 cents) to celebrate National End of School Day, and half-price cheeseburgers all day on April 15 for Tax Day. In Q2, the brand also rolled out mobile games for kids to entertain themselves with. The combination of celebrity, new funky flavors and tons of deals puts Sonic at No. 2.

Social Score: 446.74 | Twitter followers: 234K | Instagram followers: 26.2K | Facebook fans: 3.1M

  1. Chipotle: In Q2, Chipotle reaffirmed its brand message by announcing the removal of all GMOs throughout its ingredient list. Chipotle became the first national restaurant company to use only non-GMO ingredients. Also in Q2, the fast-casual chain announced a scholarship program where middle school and high school students could submit an essay about a memorable food experience. Ten winners would be granted a $20K scholarship and have their essays featured on cups and bags in Chipotle restaurants. The combination of sustainable practices and healthfulness, focus on community, and direct consumer engagement and interaction make Chipotle a strong Top 3 competitor.

Social Score: 446.11 | Twitter followers: 670K | Instagram followers: 203K | Facebook fans: 2.5M

  1. Panera Bread
  1. Wendy’s
  1. Taco Bell
  1. Buffalo Wild Wings
  1. Firehouse Subs
  1. Shake Shack
  1. In-N-Out Burger

Made up of four QSRs, four fast casuals and two casual dining restaurants, Q2’s Top 10 proves that, when it comes to national brands on top, there’s a little something for everyone.

View the full Top 25 National Brands on Foodable here, and submit your brand into the Index.

Jessica Bryant is the Managing Editor at Foodable WebTV Network, DigitalCoCo’s sister company.


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