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Restaurant Social Media Index closes in on 50 million restaurant consumers

7 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

We’re a bit late to announce our RSMI Q1 2013 data, but rest assured, the numbers are in! Before we dive into the Top 10 of the Top 250 Overall Brands, we’re excited to announce that this quarter is all about new metrics, and we’re just beginning to roll out a slew of them, all to be launched throughout 2013.

Mobile and Location are key elements that have the most impact on the restaurant business today. What’s significant is the global growth of mobile use for the restaurant industry, which can lead to some innovative strategies for location-based interactions for restaurants.

Integrated social at the local level is what we like to call “the last mile of social,” and like the fiber or high-speed brethren, it’s just as important. We believe this is the next major phase and shift for brands as new local strategists are answering the big question of how to connect consumers at the local level.

Going local: How it’s measured

Through VenueTrak, which now has more than 3.5 billion location-based actions (LBAs) tracked by restaurant consumers, we are able to connect a consumer to an action in a location. This measurement is, of course, the bottom line for every marketer. We analyze a few things to determine LBAs: density, frequency, return & refer, and sentiment from a location-based action to add up to a total of 100 max basis points. With this addition, we’re bringing you the Top Location-Based Brands.

Mad for mobile metrics

Mobile is another integral component for today’s digital brand. This new metric of mobile engagement is designed similarly to our overall engagement, but is based on the most important filter of all: Mobile Social Transactions. Be on the lookout as we build new metrics from mobile restaurant consumers in the coming months, including our Top Mobile-Engaged Brands. [For more on Mobile Social Consumer Trends, check out our #MoSoCo report here.]

Top 10 brands: Shifting gears

Without further ado, we give you the Top 10 of the Top 250 Overall Brands for Q1 2013:

  1. Hard Rock Cafe: This brand certainly knows how to rock, and its social strategy is no different. Hard Rock’s Q1 Facebook strategy consists of lots of pictures, customer polls, music videos, and promos for a chance to enter Hard Rock Rising, Hard Rock’s global battle of the bands.

Twitter followers: 265,000+  FB ‘likes:’ 3 million+  Klout: 89  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 7

      2. Subway: Subway inarguably has a healthy social following. The sandwich brand’s Q1 Facebook strategy was full of freebies: A chance to win a trip to L.A. for “The Biggest Loser finale, $1,000, two 2013 Jeep Compasses, and free airfare from Southwest. It’s difficult to not want to follow them. Subway has also started integrating original YouTube videos in its stream, which gives an extra element of fun.

Twitter followers: 1.2 million+  FB ‘likes:’ 22 million+  Klout: 81  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 5

3. Pizza Hut: From its ‘Give us your best HUT!’ Super Bowl-based video contest to consumer-generated content (like this post) and interactive contests — a ‘What’s Your Any?’ BYOP (Build Your Own Pizza) contest as well as caption contests were standouts in Q1 — Pizza Hut is serving up a mean slice of social.

Twitter followers: 335,036  FB ‘likes:’ 10 million+  Klout: 87  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 13

4. Red Mango: Red Mango began its social presence before the concept itself was even open. The frozen yogurt brand includes a lot of user-generated content, tons of tasty photos, customer surveys, and some cool discounts in its social strategy.

Twitter followers: 71,000+  FB ‘likes:’ 754,000+  Klout score: 79  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 9

5. Jimmy John’s: The gourmet sandwich brand is great at delivering quality social content. JJ’s sponsored racing photos show that its Q1 Facebook strategy is definitely geared toward its target: male sports fans. Its Sandwich Cannon app, which launches sandwiches, chips and water balloons at whomever you choose, adds a dose of consumer interactivity and competition.

Twitter followers: 185,000+  FB ‘likes:’ 1.9 million+  Klout score: 85  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 6

6. Buffalo Wild Wings: BWW is another brand that targets male sports enthusiasts. Its social strategy is always consistent and focuses on beer, wings and upcoming games. If your heart is yearning for football during the off-season, put BWW on your radar — it’s the next best thing.

Twitter followers: 259,000+  FB ‘likes:’ 10 million+  Klout score: 86  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 4

7. Starbucks: Last Quarter, McDonald’s bumped Starbucks out of its eight-quarter streak at No. 1. Now slipping to No. 4, Starbucks isn’t necessarily losing love from its very loyal consumers; big brands are getting smarter on social, making the competition fierce. The caffeinated brand is always on-point with relevancy, like this Facebook post on Groundhog Day.

Twitter followers: 3.8 million+  FB ‘likes:‘ 34.6 million+  Klout score: 84  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 2

8. Wendy’s: Hanging on at No. 3, Wendy’s Q1 FB strategy was all about interactivity, even giving fans control to be a virtual spokesperson for the brand using, where they could choose their three favorite menu items via buzzwords. In return, they’d get the chance to be featured in the brand’s digital ads.

Twitter followers: 197,000+  FB ‘likes:‘ 3.3 million+  Klout score: 86  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 3

9. McDonald’s: Slipping from No. 1, McDonald’s balances its social strategy with food photos, polls and video. The brand has taken a transparent angle throughout the past few years, and it shows in offering interesting behind-the-scenes stories, facts and pictures of its workers and suppliers.

Twitter followers: 1.2 million+  FB ‘likes:’ 28.7 million+  Klout score: 92  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 1

10. Taco Bell: Taco Bell has made a huge jump! With a tongue-in-cheek digital voice, the brand is a source of wit and entertainment, which reflects throughout its entire lifestyle brand image. Just as its menu offers items for both the health-conscious and late-night taco crowd, its social presence appeals to all types as well. Taco Bell is a great example of a social brand enabling a larger platform for its community to interact with each other. To prove the loyalty of its fans, one of them recently got a Live Más crunchy burrito tattoo. Yes, that really happened.

Twitter followers: 511,000+  FB ‘likes:‘ 10 million+  Klout score: 92  Q4 2012 Ranking: No. 10

You can get the full top 250 list plus many more metrics at

Turning up the [social] volume

Big brands are turning up the volume on social, and the shift we’ve seen from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013 certainly proves that. Engagement, sentiment and influence — the three baseline metrics of the RSMI — are crucial elements to consider for every player in the game, whether your brand has one unit or more than 100.

With the addition of mobile and local metrics, the full social cycle, from engagement to social ROI based on LBAs, can be measured. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to give your brand the tools it needs to either change direction or strengthen your current strategy. Be on the lookout for our next metric improvements over the next several quarter releases that provide the industry with real actionable metrics designed to drive growth in the next-era digital brand.

Jessica Bryant is a digital brand analyst for DigitalCoCo and leads research for the Social Insights platform. DigitalCoCo is the leading firm for social consumer research and digital brand development for the restaurant and hospitality business. Bryant is a seasoned researcher with a specialty toward consumer trends and culture shifts in the restaurant business.