On October 4th of this year, Facebook hit 1 billion active Facebook users.
With that being said, implementing a strategic presence on Facebook can be extremely advantageous to restaurant industry brands if they know what they’re doing. With all of the social media platform’s changes over the past few years, Facebook hasn’t been the easiest medium for business purposes.
In the Restaurant Social Media Index’s (RSMI) most recent quarterly report, which is based on Facebook fan growth for restaurant industry brands in the third quarter, a lot of interesting data was revealed. In the third quarter of 2012, 49 restaurant industry brands are now reaching almost 200 million accumulative Facebook fans. Essentially, when you put that number into perspective, that’s 20 percent of active Facebook users.
In comparison to Twitter, however, Facebook seems to be slowing down. In terms of growth, eMarketer has reported that, while Facebook saw a 38.6 percent climb in 2010, the platform grew only 13.6 percent in 2011 and is expected to fall down to the single-digits this year at 6.6 percent. Twitter, on the other hand, is still gaining more momentum: In 2010, Twitter saw a 23.5 percent jump and a 31.9 percent increase in 2011. In 2012, Twitter growth is estimated to be at 20.7 percent. Facebook has a larger base, of course. Most analysts claim Facebook’s plateau to be an effect of having already hit 1 billion users, with not much more room to grow at this point in time.
Top 5 growth brands
According to the RSMI, the Top 5 Growth Brands in Fans for 3Q are as follows:
1. McDonald’s: With 2,388,541 new fans in the third quarter, McDonald’s Facebook fans are lovin’ it. The super-brand’s Facebook approach? Constant engagement and transparency. All of the brand’s posts include either a photo, video, or poll that are consistent with the McDonald’s lifestyle, whether it’s a behind-the-scenes video of the potato farm they make their fries from or a link to their new ‘Dollar Menu University’ dollar menu promotion.
2. Subway: With 2,039,480 new fans in the third quarter, Subway uses Facebook to leverage their marketing to consumers without being too aggressive. Their cover photo, for example, changes regularly in relation to their current promotion. The sandwich chain also recently teamed up with Disney to help promote two new movies, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Frankenweenie.’ On Subway’s end, the partnership allowed the brand to market its “Fresh Fit for Kids” meals, while stressing the importance of healthy eating options for children.
3. Starbucks: Starbucks’ Facebook offers the same intimate sentiment that you would typically find in the coffeehouse itself. The super-brand pulled in 1,337,055 new fans in the third quarter. Although Starbucks President and CEO Howard Schultz recently went public about who he was voting for in the 2012 Election, creating quite a stir, Starbucks has been stressing the importance of ‘the vote’ — no matter which side of the fence you’re on - since June. Starbucks got even more interactive with this byencouraging, via Facebook, to tag #indivisible to any social site, allowing them to state their views on why democracy is so important to them. This not only gave consumers a voice, but also encouraged them to be part of the community.
4. Chick-fil-A: With 1,212,803 new fans in the third quarter, Chick-fil-A has integrated different elements into their Facebook strategy, including Instagram — or, as they call it, Fanstagram. Each month, the chain showcases their favorite snapshots from customers on their Facebook — all they have to do is tag #ChickfilA.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings: BWW pulled in 1,003,440 new fans in the third quarter. The brand’s existing base is men, so it makes sense that its Facebook is representative of a ‘man cave.’ Buzzwords like beer, wings, football, and video games come into play. In fact, the brand has created its own virtual game called ‘Protect the Football,’ which gives 75 gift cards away each week to top players. Another promotion they’ve implemented via Facebook is their Coca-Cola Zero promo, where fans could send in their ‘best fan photo’ and win a BWW gift card, and even a chance to win a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Facebook continues to be a consumer attraction engine for restaurants, with 44 brands all gaining a minimum of 100K new fans in the third quarter alone, totaling 19.2 million new restaurant fans. Of the 199.2 million in the top 49 brands, 111.7 million were unique users.
The Restaurant Social Media Index continues to build the most expansive social consumer restaurant data in the business. An alarming trend in the 2012 Consumer Index report shows that social and mobile is displacing email as the primary way for restaurants to reach guests.
To qualify in the study, brands had to have at least 100K additional fans in the third quarter. Of all the brands that were surveyed, 32 of them had at least one million fans each.