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How 5 Leading Restaurant Brands Use Social Media to Dominate the Market


As a multi-location marketer, staying on top of the latest trends and finding ways to stand out from the competition can be challenging. Social media is no different. Wouldn’t it be helpful to see what the leaders in your industry are doing to crush their social efforts? If you’re in the restaurant industry, this blog can help! We’ll break down the top social tactics leading restaurant brands use to win more sales. To help us find the top restaurant brands leading local social, we used data from our Top Restaurant Brands in Localized Marketing Report


Top Restaurant Brands in Local Social 

Data from the report revealed that the top five restaurant brands in local social were Wendy’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Dunkin’, and Sonic Drive-In. You’ve probably already heard of all five restaurant brands, and for a good reason. Each of these restaurant brands has put time and effort into their local social strategy and ranked highest in the social category of our report. 


When ranking the brands, our report looked at the following metrics: 

  • Percentage of locations posting
  • Post frequency per month
  • New reviews per month 
  • Locations responding to reviews
  • Review response time
  • Engagement per post 
  • High-value post engagement 
  • Q&A answer rate 


As a multi-location restaurant, how would your business rank? While a high percentage of locations posting on local social and a strong post frequency per month can help boost your local social efforts, the leaders in local social focused on additional tactics that helped differentiate their local social efforts from the pack.



Creative, Engaging Local Content is a Must 

Some fast-food chains, such as Wendy’s, Chipotle, and Sonic Drive-In, are doing an excellent job of publishing creative, engaging content on Facebook in a manner that aligns well with their overall performance as leaders in both search and social. Posting exciting content at scale can be a challenge for large chains and franchises, but these restaurants have shown that on-brand content making use of humor, audience participation, and incentives can do a great job of building an engaged follower base at the local level.


For example:

  • Wendy’s, whose posts attract an average of 2,417 reactions each, uses games, meme-like content, and a casual brand voice to appeal to followers without seeming overly promotional.
  • Chipotle, whose average Facebook post generates an impressive 1,892 comments, shares a wide variety of content, including humorous posts and charity drives, and builds engagement by actively responding to comments and maintaining high availability in Messenger.
  • Similarly, Sonic Drive-In shares job postings, deals, humorous content, and links to buy merchandise such as pins and T-shirts that help to promote brand loyalty. Sonic’s monthly average of 25 Facebook posts per location was the highest in our study. 


As you can see, creating local content that catches a consumer’s attention, whether it’s through humor, games, or local promotions, helps drive engagement. Data from a previous report found that localized content performs 12x better than content that is not considered localized. What is your multi-location business doing to ensure your local content stands out? Creating content that drives high-value engagement for your local pages is non-negotiable. For more insight on what it takes to build a strong content strategy for local social, check out our Localized Social Content Guide


Reputation Management is Still Important on Social

While content was one of the significant differentiators for restaurant brands leading local social, it’s essential not to forget about reviews on local social. The lines between search and social have been blurred. Platforms like Facebook that used to be considered social platforms now have similar features of search platforms like Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business, and vice-versa. This means that your restaurant brand can’t forget about responding to reviews across all local search and social platforms, specifically those that you would have previously considered strictly social platforms. 


Leading restaurant brands in local social, like Sonic Drive-In (Sonic), consider responding to reviews on Facebook a top priority. For instance, almost 70 percent of Sonic locations respond to their local reviews. Their average review response time is also impressive at 19 days compared to the average review response time for restaurant brands on Facebook of 87 days. While 19 days is significantly lower than the industry average, there’s always room for improvement. As a restaurant brand, the faster you can respond to reviews, the better – especially when it comes to negative reviews. For a deeper look at what it takes to build a strong reputation management strategy on local social, our blog on the topic can help


Dominate Your Local Social Efforts Today

Now that you understand what leading restaurant brands are doing to beat the competition, it’s time for your restaurant to do the same. Re-evaluate your current local social efforts and determine where there is room for improvement. Whether you need to level up your local social content strategy or improve your review response efforts, SOCi is here to help. For instance, SOCi’s social media management solution enables multi-location businesses to manage and deploy localized content at scale while maintaining brand consistency at both the enterprise and local levels. The tool also allows companies to discover, share, and create meaningful content, driving the high-value engagement that will differentiate your restaurant brand.


When it comes to reputation management, SOCi’s next-level review solution is here to provide support as well. This streamlined reputation management tool allows restaurant brands to view every action taken on reviews and monitor every activity on social media. Now, your local, regional, and corporate teams will always know which reviews and social engagements are addressed and which ones still require attention to ensure the prompt responses consumers expect. As we head into 2022, it’s time for your restaurant brand to re-create a winning local social strategy, and SOCi can help. For more information on how SOCi can support your restaurant brand with local social and other aspects of your localized marketing strategy, request a demo today! 


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Darcy Bickham

As SOCi’s Content Marketing Manager, Darcy Bickham specializes in creating the strategy and developing the content around both localized and digital marketing trends for the SOCi brand. Through her content writing, Darcy has helped to position SOCi as the marketing platform for multi-location brands.