Study: Facebook fan engagement surges for restaurants in 3Q

We have found that Facebook is a great way for us to share job openings with candidates in local markets. Franchisees share lots of great information with their Facebook Fans.  Not only has social media changed the way we do business as recruiters, he has definitely impacted the restaurant industry.

Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell are among the brands that saw the most fan action, according to a study from Expion

The number of people liking and sharing Facebook posts from restaurants saw explosive growth in the third quarter — a result of brands focusing on engagement rather than gaining fans, a new study found.

According to Raleigh, N.C.-based Expion, a social-media software and consulting firm, the total number of Facebook likes, comments and shares for the restaurant chains with the 100 highest like counts more than doubled from Expion’s second-quarter study to the third quarter. That total of all “fan actions” rose 146.5 percent to more than 27.2 million likes, comments and shares.

Mike Heffring, chief strategy officer for Expion, said the data indicate a second phase of social media, in which restaurants are learning how to create engaging Facebook posts at a rapid rate.

“Brands are building engagement rather than focusing on building big fan bases,” Heffring said. “In other words, fan bases are reaching a level of diminishing return because a lot of brands have the big fan bases they were hoping to acquire, so now they are developing content that engages their fans to boost their share of voice.”

In a list of the 10 most effective restaurants on Facebook, industry giants Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway were among the brands earning the most likes, comments and shares per each Facebook post in the third quarter. But so did relatively smaller brands with far fewer Facebook likes, such as Chick-fil-A, The Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse and Krispy Kreme.

When Expion ranked the brands by their average fan actions per post and then indexed them by the industrywide average of 3,280 fan actions per post, results were normalized for system size and fan count. As a result, Starbucks, which has more than 17,600 units worldwide and more than 32 million likes, topped Expion’s list with 13.37 indexed actions per post while Chick-fil-A finished second, with 10.5 indexed actions per post, despite having 1,600 units and nearly 6.4 million likes.

Taco Bell ranked No. 3 on Expion’s list, with 7.74 indexed actions per post, followed by The Cheesecake Factory with 5.71 and McDonald’s with 4.56 indexed actions per post. Texas Roadhouse and Krispy Kreme tied for the No. 6 ranking, with 3.4 indexed fan actions per post, though Texas Roadhouse had a slightly higher average fan action total and achieved that number with the fewest posts of any brand in the top 10.

Red Lobster, Baskin-Robbins and Subway finished Nos. 8, 9 and 10, respectively, with indexed fan actions per post of 3.12, 3.02 and 2.44, respectively.

Chick-fil-A: The upside of damage control

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A performed better in the third-quarter study than it had in prior reports from Expion due to the way it managed the controversy that sprang from chief operating officer Dan Cathy’s July 16 comments to the Baptist Press defending the company’s contributions to groups that advocate against same-sex marriage. As a negative reaction from same-sex marriage supporters built on Facebook and Twitter, and as Chick-fil-A supporters pushed against that backlash through their Facebook comments and a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day event, the brand did not participate in the debate beyond its July 19 Facebook post.

That post, which said the brand would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena,” received nearly 312,000 fan actions, including nearly 243,000 likes. It had the second most fan actions overall, behind only a post from Starbucks to promote its Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Chick-fil-A also had the No. 5 and No. 10 posts in terms of most fan actions, each receiving more than 100,000. Those posts also addressed the controversy. “The brand is using the page to host corporate-focused conversations rather than just a medium to promote products,” Heffring said. “This is a strategy that seems to be working well for them, at least when it comes to generating a large share of voice and a high number of engaging posts.”
Read more: http://nrn.com/article/study-facebook-fan-engagement-surges-restaurants-3q?ad=news#ixzz2A8aQcwZX

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