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Few brands are as “in the trenches” as restaurants, as far as consumer impact and feedback are concerned. Which restaurant brands are tops with diners, and why? That’s what the new NetBase Social Media Industry Report 2016: Restaurant Brands is all about.

What do consumers love about their favorite restaurants?

We analyzed top trends and overall performance of leading restaurant brands as discussed across social channels, focusing on the top 100 within the Quick Service (QS), Fast Casual (FC), and Casual Dining (CD) segments.

We also looked at Net Sentiment to assess whether diners’ emotions were positive or negative, and Passion Intensity to calculate the depth of those emotions. And there was plenty of love to go around. Particularly for Quick Serve brands.

Though Casual Dining and Quick Serve were nearly equally represented among the 100 brands – comprising 40% and 41% respectively – Quick Serve had far greater Volume of Mentions at 68%. This means more people were talking about Quick Serve brands. Does that mean they love them more? Not necessarily – but it does mean Fast Casual and Casual Dining brands could do more to encourage social conversation, and that means understanding what gets people talking.

For example, giveaways by brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Krispy Kreme inspire a lot of social chatter. Though a smaller company, Ben & Jerry’s was #1 for Revenue-Weighted Volume of Mentions. That goes to show that it’s not about size, it’s about being connected to your audience.

Best practices to apply

So how do restaurant brands ensure they’re at the top of the social food chain? Our latest eBook, NetBase Social Media Best Practices Guide 2016: Restaurant Brands has a smorgasbord of tips all brands can put into practice. Here are five tasty morsels to whet your appetite:

  1. Create awareness with a unique hashtag. Social users love to feel special, and a unique campaign hashtag can be just the thing to have them feeling “in the club,” while raising brand awareness and increasing engagement. Krispy Kreme’s #freedonutday got the excitement building weeks before the event, and even Reese Witherspoon was tweeting about it.
  1. Monitor and act in real-time. Yesterday’s insights won’t help you solve today’s problems. In fact, if you’re too late to notice a campaign going off the rails, or a consumer complaint gaining social support, your brand can sustain serious reputational damage. Be sure your social software analyzes data in real-time, so decision-makers have the information they need to keep your brand on track. When McDonald’s launched their all-day breakfast, consumers were thrilled and the brand’s Net Sentiment got an immediate boost. If it hadn’t, they would have known to change strategies because they were monitoring in real-time.
  1. Follow brand passion to influencers. The people who are most passionate about your brand are most likely to amplify whatever messaging you share. Identify these consumers, and give them something to share about. Random free wings get Wingstop’s customers talking – including major names like Meek Mill, the Chicago Bulls and Ultimate Fighting Championship.
  1. Set up Smart Alerts. When you’re focused on a specific campaign or message, a single negative tweet from a consumer can easily get lost in the shuffle. But a single tweet, left unchecked, is enough to incite a disaster. Be sure you know trouble is brewing at the very first sign. Drive-thru chain Checkers could have used this when an employee posted a video of himself wiping a burger bun on the floor and then serving it to a customer. You can’t afford to waste a moment in a crisis.
  1. Monitor consistently to spot new trends. Don’t wait until you have a campaign to run, or a crisis to fix – monitor social conversations regularly to see what new products and services consumers want, and innovate ahead of your category. Chipotle scored major sentiment when they started offering delivery service based on social users’ desire for it.

All brands can benefit from the best practices above, but these five tips are just an appetizer. There’s a full meal left to enjoy in our eBook, so be sure to download NetBase Social Media Best Practices Guide 2016: Restaurant Brands today.

And to find out which restaurants ranked where, download the report NetBase Social Media Industry Report 2016: Restaurant Brands, or contact us for a personal demo of our social listening tools.

Image from Monica Arellano-Ongpin

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