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The 5 Most Socially Engaged Restaurant Brands

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Today we stumbled across the Restaurant Social Media Index, a three-year-old research tool measuring the performance of various restaurant brands on social media.

We were first drawn to this list of names with the greatest audience engagement levels; we found it particularly relevant considering the fact that most of its entries are fast food chains and salty, fatty fare is always popular on Super Bowl weekend.

So we figured we’d explore the top five on the list of 25 and find some examples of this all-important “engagement.”

1. Wendy’s

In classic food fashion, the Facebook posts receiving the most likes and comments on the Wendy’s page are images of menu items with one or two lines of mildly clever copy; here’s a good example of engagement regarding the chain’s 99 cent menu:

On Twitter, however, there’s plenty of rolling conversation:

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2. Taco Bell

The top semi-Mexican chain is known for its edgy tone, and this thread is a pretty good example:

As with Wendy’s, there’s more of that quick back-and-forth on Twitter:

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3. Starbucks

Starbucks is well known for its social presence and a focus on compelling imagery, but we noticed that, for such an “engaged” organization, it doesn’t do much in the way of direct response on Facebook.

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You’ll also note a more earnest tone in interactions with followers. Snarky isn’t necessarily best, especially if it doesn’t quite fit with the brand.

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4. McDonald’s

This isn’t surprising; despite being America’s “most hated” brand, McD’s is also one of its biggest and most-referenced. Yet despite the millions of fans, there’s not a lot of engagement or “likes” on individual Facebook posts and little or no direct engagement.

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The McD’s Twitter feed resembles Starbucks: a fair number of interactions but no real attempts at wit.

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5. Buffalo Wild Wings

This chain is a bit of a surprise not only because it’s not nearly as common as its predecessors but because its account managers rarely perform customer service functions.

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So how did RSIM create this list? The org writes that they take their research further than direct conversations with brands by “analyzing unsolicited engagement and peripheral engagement with extended conversations.”

That makes sense, but based on the content we found during what was an admittedly limited research session, it’s not quite clear why these brands top the engagement list beyond their inherent popularity. Taco Bell stands out most to us thanks to its willingness to push boundaries for the sake of comedy, but the McDonald’s, Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings feeds are a little, well, bland.

What do we think? Are these truly the five “most engaged” brands? What about the rest of the list? And do we have better examples?

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