A diverse collection of restaurant chains scored the biggest gains in the NRN Social 200 index the second week of July, and while their reasons for increased social-media engagement all varied, the keyword that applied to all of them was consistency.
Boston Market, for instance, had not changed drastically the type of content or the frequency of its posting on Facebook and Twitter, but it benefited from the ongoing popularity of its new ribs introduced back in April. Likewise, Papa John’s kept its social-media platforms regularly refreshed with new posts about football and its specialty pizzas, as well as its charitable efforts under the “#PapaJohnsCares” hash tag, which fans noticed and appreciated.
For Krystal and 7-Eleven, consistency could be defined as posting content that is emblematic of their core values and brand history. The nearly 400-unit burger chain earned its spike in engagement simply by touting itself as “a Southern thing,” while the C-store brand made a big deal out of its 7-Eleven Day event, which took place on July 11. Another “C” word besides consistency that proved crucial for 7-Eleven was comprehensive, as the brand’s social-media campaign spanned for days across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
1. Boston Market
Weekly percent change: +23.4%
Index score: 12.64
Boston Market primarily uses its Facebook and Twitter pages as avenues for once-a-day posting about its promotions and new menu items — though its Facebook page also appears to be where the chain responds to social-media questions and complaints, and quickly. During the second week of July, Boston Market’s Facebook engagement increased with more likes, comments and shares of two posts for two separate menu items: Market Bowls and St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs. The ribs item, which Boston Market credited with a 16-percent same-store sales lift earlier this year proved particularly popular, earning nearly 300 likes, compared with the chain’s typical Facebook posts, which tend to generate fewer than 100 likes.
Weekly percent change: +21.6%
Index score: 34.07
Convenience-store chain 7-Eleven made hay on its namesake day of July 11 with a comprehensive social-media campaign to accompany its small-Slurpee giveaway in all its stores. The promotion encompassed all three major platforms tracked by NRN’s Social 200, with a “#7ElevenDay” hash tag on Facebook and Twitter, as well as frequent links to YouTube videos showing people how to do the Slurpee Dance. On 7-Eleven Day itself, the chain’s promotional photo went viral on both Facebook and Twitter, earning more than 19,000 likes and 18,000 shares on the former, as well as several thousand retweets and favorites on the latter.
Krystal, Papa John's and Ninety Nine
Weekly percent change: +13.9%
Index score: 13.94
Quick-service chain Krystal stays active across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with new content for all three platforms, not just the same photos or videos re-purposed for different sites or simultaneous posting. The brand’s Twitter and Facebook feeds both show lots of engagement, as most comments and tweets get speedy responses the day they are posted.
While Krystal has used social media to call out everything from deals like the $19.99 Friends & Family Meal to core items like the Freeze to its program for welcoming returning military veterans home, its high-engagement outlier involved a simple shot of a restaurant exterior. The caption read, “Krystal: It’s a Southern thing,” and garnered an outsize total of 1,530 likes, 125 comments and 185 shares.
4. Papa John’s Pizza
Weekly percent change: +13.6%
Index score: 28.27
Papa John’s seemed to benefit as much from its cause-marketing efforts on social media as from its promotional posting during the second week of July. The key was consistency, whether tweets and Facebook posts were about football, the brand’s $12 large specialty pizzas, or philanthropic initiatives like fundraisers for Autism Speaks or donating pizzas to relief efforts after a flood in Calgary, Canada. Papa John’s made a Facebook photo album for its cause-marketing initiatives, which received more than 500 likes — a total much higher than the chain’s typical posts, save for one post about the Hawaiian BBQ Chicken & Bacon pizza.
5. Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
Weekly percent change: +12.5%
Index score: 7.32
Casual-dining chain Ninety Nine Restaurants derives almost all of its engagement in the Social 200 index from its Facebook page, and the brand’s activity on that platform during the second week of July shows that chains can still effect large increases in engagement through simple tactics. By encouraging users to respond to questions in the comments section or asking them to like a post as part of its important fundraising cause for pediatric-cancer research, Ninety Nine was rewarded with a double-digit gain in its index score. An open-ended call to “share your fondest Ninety Nine memory for a chance to win a $20 gift card” netted nearly 250 comments, while more than 600 new people liked the chain’s Facebook page in return for a $1 donation to The Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Editor’s note: Some brands tracked by the NRN Social 200 are not active on their social-media platforms and have a low index score as a base, yet can produce large swings in that score with minimal activity. Because of this, the restaurant chains with index scores below 5.00 are excluded from NRN’s weekly report on the Social 200’s biggest gainers.