What is in this article?:
- Expion ranks restaurants on Facebook consistency
- Lessons learned from others
Expion says The Cheesecake Factory, Taco Bell and Texas Roadhouse as among foodservice’s most consistent promoters on Facebook.
Lessons learned from others
A few chains like Red Mango, Chick-fil-A and Red Lobster proved to be less consistent, for different reasons.
While Red Mango’s quotient of 1.48, driven by a standard deviation of 4,635 fan actions over 3,127 average fan actions per post, indicates that the frozen-yogurt brand is not as efficient as other chains on Facebook, Heffring argued that this high of a quotient is not particularly bad for a young, emerging brand. Often, these fresh-faced companies take a highly promotional, prolific approach to Facebook, and Red Mango’s 212 posts during the third quarter put it among the industry’s most-frequent posters.
“On a pure impression standpoint, that kind of frequency gets you a lot of chances, if not necessarily fan engagement,” Heffring said. “It’s not bad to be this inefficient if their goal is reach, and they have to fight all the fast-casual incumbents out there.”
Over time, Red Mango and other growing chains can move toward “smart social” by analyzing what kinds of Facebook posts get the most engagement and recalibrating their posting strategy toward that.
“By making more of what you do look like your good outliers, the more you get reach and virality,” Heffring said.
In the third quarter, however, that likely was not a strategy Chick-fil-A was looking for or would hope to continue in the future. The brand’s inefficient quotient of 2.05 arose from its very high standard deviation of 45,880 fan actions for the quarter, which stemmed from tens of thousands of people responding — positively and negatively — to a group of posts in July related to Chick-fil-A’s controversy surrounding same-sex marriage.
“Chick-fil-A’s outliers were all public-relations issues, not product issues,” Heffring said.
Of the six brands Expion broke out for this follow-up study, Chick-fil-A was the only brand to record any Facebook posts to register more than 100,000 total comments, likes and shares — which it did three separate times. Its July 19 statement where it said it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” garnered nearly 312,000 fan actions alone, including more than 242,000 likes, more than 52,000 comments and more than 16,500 shares.
Even posts unrelated to the controversy, like an Aug. 6 picture ofnuggets with a caption “We do shindigs” to promote the brand’s catering operation, drew thousands of likes and comments from people still keen on fighting the culture war, trading comments like “You also do freedom of speech … and defend truths of the Bible” with “They do shindigs? They also do HATE.”
Expion pointed out Red Lobster’s performance because it had a nearly identical number of posts as Cheesecake Factory, 93 in the third quarter to Cheesecake’s 94, but had a much higher standard deviation of 17,841 fan actions and thus a higher quotient of 1.73.
Red Lobster had five highly engaging posts in the quarter that earned more than 45,000 fan actions apiece, but there was a long tail of posts eliciting far fewer likes, comments and shares, creating a relatively high standard deviation of 17,841 fan actions. Its most popular posts promoted offers like Endless Shrimp or the brand’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits, doing so in a conversational manner.