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What The Largest Restaurant Brands Are Doing to Crush Localized Marketing


The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although conditions have improved considerably since March of 2020, pandemic-driven changes in consumer expectations and behavior continue to present challenges to the industry. For restaurant brands to keep up, localized marketing is a must. Our recent Top Restaurant Brands in Localized Marketing report analyzes top restaurants in localized marketing and breaks down which tactics they use to crush the competition. If you didn’t get the chance to read the full report, this blog breaks it down for you! 


Restaurant Brands and Localized Marketing 


The restaurant industry remains very competitive in 2021. The need for presence, responsiveness, and convenience will only increase over time. If your restaurant brand isn’t already focusing on local search and social tactics, you could be missing out on potential diners. Diners are digitally savvy. In fact, 94 percent of consumers use digital tools to look up information about local businesses, with Google, Facebook, and Yelp cited by consumers as the most popular options. Similarly, diners are social media users. Eighty-nine percent of U.S. diners are active on social media, and 72 percent of diners have used Facebook to help choose a restaurant. 



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The data speaks for itself. An emphasis on both local search and local social is critical to compete in today’s digital marketplace. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts with localized marketing. Restaurant brands need localized search and localized social marketing to achieve a healthy and fully optimized localized marketing presence covering all stages of the digital consumer journey. Our 2021 Top Restaurant Brands in Localized Marketing audited the top 25 restaurant brands in the industry. The report found that when it comes to localized marketing, restaurant brands had an overall score of 49 out of 100. This score puts restaurant brands in the building stage, indicating that localized marketing efforts are paying off, with digital presence and consumer engagement offering measurable results, though more remains to be done to achieve peak performance. Next, we’ll dive into our top restaurant brands’ performance in local social and look at what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement.


Local Social: What Your Restaurant Brand Needs to Know 


When looking at local social, top restaurant brands have a much more robust and more consistent engagement strategy on Facebook when compared to Google My Business (GMB). On Facebook, 65 percent of the restaurants evaluated created new content regularly, leading to more engagement. Overall engagement with Facebook posts was strong at 1,113 engagements per post. Some restaurant brands stood out with their social strategy. For instance, Wendy’s, whose posts attract an average of 2,417 reactions, uses games, meme-like content, and a casual brand voice to appeal to followers without seeming overly promotional. Similarly, Chipotle, whose average Facebook post generates an impressive 1,892 comments, shares a wide variety of content and builds engagement by actively responding to comments and maintaining availability in Messenger. As a multi-location restaurant brand, your business should create 2-3 local Facebook posts and test various types of content to see which receives the best engagement with your local guests. 




While top restaurant brands are consistently creating and posting local content on Facebook, there’s still room for improvement on GMB. Currently, only eight percent of restaurant brand locations are posting on Google, with a posting frequency of once per month. As a multi-location marketer, your restaurant brand should be striving to exceed these averages. Similarly, review response rate is an important indicator of social engagement on GMB that could be improved. An average of 35 percent of local restaurants are responding to reviews on GMB. When comparing the top 5 review responders to the bottom 5, we find that the top 5 have an overall star rating that is 0.2 higher, which may suggest that review response rate correlates with higher ratings, again emphasizing the need for your local restaurants to respond to reviews.  


At SOCi, we understand that monitoring and responding to reviews across 100s or 1,000s of restaurant locations can be challenging, but we are here to help. SOCi Reviews allows users to view every action taken on reviews and monitor every activity on social media. Now, your local teams and corporate leadership will always know which reviews and social engagements are addressed and which ones still require attention to ensure the prompt responses diners expect. 



Local Search: What’s Working, and Where Your Restaurants Can Improve 


Now that you understand which areas of local social your restaurant brand should focus on improving, it’s time to dive into local search. The data from our Top Restaurant Brands in Localized Marketing report found that restaurant brands have mastered local search presence, with complete and accurate local listings on GMB, Facebook, and Yelp. For instance, on average, restaurants analyzed in the study had claimed 99 percent of their listings on GMB, 96 percent of Yelp listings, and 95 percent of local Facebook pages. Profile completeness was almost as high across all three platforms. The completeness of GMB profiles is considered a vital ranking factor today, with Google providing many opportunities for optimization through photos, video content, business descriptions, attributes, and more. To compete, your business should meet or exceed these averages when it comes to claiming and completing your local listings. 


While top restaurant brands are present across local search platforms, they often struggle to achieve top placement in search results. As we mentioned previously, the restaurant industry is highly competitive, which explains why on average, the restaurant brands we studied only ranked in the Google 3-Pack 22 percent of the time. Restaurant brands must focus on other local GMB profile features such as Google Q&A and Google Posts to rank higher on Google. In our study, the five top-ranking brands were 19 percent more likely to respond to reviews than the bottom five, 5 percent more likely to respond to Q&A, and 21 percent more likely to have published Google posts in the last 30 days. Similarly, focusing on the average star rating of your local restaurants can help improve visibility on Google as well. While restaurants can’t directly control the ratings they receive, you can improve them over time by responding to as many ratings and reviews as possible, and analyzing the content of negative reviews, and making meaningful improvements. 


Stand Out as a Leader in the Restaurant Industry


Overall, findings from the report indicated that restaurant brands have it figured out when it comes to the basics of local search and social marketing, but are differentiated from each other when it comes to the depth of their involvement in search and the engagement they can win via social. As a multi-location marketer in the restaurant industry, you should use insights from the report to improve your own restaurant brand’s localized marketing strategy. With 100s or 1,000s of restaurant locations, we understand that it can be challenging to manage marketing efforts at scale, but that’s where SOCi comes in. SOCi has a variety of local search and social tools to help your business crush its localized marketing efforts. 


As previously mentioned, SOCi Reviews can help your business manage its online reputation. When it comes to social media, SOCi’s Social Solution is perfect for multi-location restaurant brands. SOCi’s Social Solution enables restaurant brands to manage and deploy localized content at scale while maintaining brand consistency at both the enterprise and local levels. The tool also allows you to publish to all major networks to amplify audience engagement with localized shareable content, increasing your high-value (comment and shares) engagement. 


For more insight into how SOCi can elevate your restaurant brand’s localized marketing efforts and help you dominate the competition, request a demo today! What’re you waiting for? It’s time to start winning more diners!


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