No one content strategy was behind the best improvers in Nation’s Restaurant News’ Social 200 index in early September, as the five top weekly gainers showed many types of social media posts that increased engagement.

NRN Social 200: Food pictures work for top restaurants
NRN Social 200: Value offers boost restaurants in August
The NRN Social 200 index

Togo’s Sandwiches and Long John Silver’s, for example, received the most Facebook activity for cause-marketing messages during the second week of September, even though both brands still promoted new menu items.

Così and Checkers, meanwhile, had the most success with food shots of menu items, including a new sandwich for the former and the return of a limited-time offer for the latter, which happened to benefit from a similar product introduction at rival Burger King.

Also, Brio Tuscan Grille made its first appearance in the top five weekly gainers in the Social 200 by promoting a $23.95 meal bundle on Facebook for its upscale-casual Italian restaurants.

1. Togo’s Sandwiches
Weekly percent change: +25.1%
Index score: 7.58

Togo’s derives the lion’s share of its social media activity from Facebook, and during the second week of September the most engaging content on the fast-casual brand’s page focused on fundraising for Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign.

One of Togo’s other social-marketing campaigns, a video series called “Togo’s Logo Q&A,” continued to be an entertaining piece of content, though the number of likes those posts typically get are still only a few dozen in the early stages. However, Togo’s posts for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry received hundreds of likes, including more than 550 likes and more than three dozen shares for its first such post on Sept. 7.

2. Così
Weekly percent change: +16.4%
Index score: 5.11

Fast-casual chain Così managed to make its less-frequent Facebook posts count during the second week of September. Actually, its most-liked and -shared post was created Sept. 6, the day before this measurement period started, yet many of the comments and shares Così received came over the next few days.

Two food shots of one of the chain’s flatbread pizzas and its new BBQ Pork & Cheddar Melt helmed a post meant to entice football fans to grab some fall-flavored food before they watch a game. The post garnered more than 200 likes, 10 comments and nearly 20 shares, all of which were the highest totals the brand had earned since mid-August.

Brio, Rally's and Long John Silver's

(Continued from page 1)

3. Brio Tuscan Grille
Weekly percent change: +13.9%
Index score: 5.94

Though it gets nearly 40 percent of its Social 200 index score from Twitter, Brio Tuscan Grille had tweeted only once for the whole month as of Sept. 16, so its double-digit gain in its score for the second week of September came entirely from Facebook. During the measurement period, Brio’s top-performing piece of content was a Facebook post promoting its Savory Escape three-course deal for $23.95, which received more than 360 likes as well as 15 comments and 25 shares — all highs for September so far for the brand.

4. Rally’s/Checkers
Weekly percent change: +13.6%
Index score: 11.77

Sibling brands Checkers and Rally’s share social-media platforms and jointly scored a big win during the second week of September with a double-digit gain in their Social 200 score. The brands’ most-engaging Facebook post of the period by far was an image of the Checkers Fry Lover’s Burger, a limited-time offer from last year, with the caption, “Anything they can do, we’ve already done better.”

The post was referring to Burger King’s $1 French Fry Burger, introduced this month as a limited-time offer. In addition to nearly 600 likes and nearly 60 shares, Checkers’ post received more than 35 comments, many sharing sentiments like, “No one beats the Checkers’ Fry Lover’s Burger” or “Checkers had this way before Burger King.”

5. Long John Silver’s
Weekly percent change: +8.9%
Index score: 10.67

Quick-service seafood chain Long John Silver’s is one of the few restaurant brands to derive a majority of its Social 200 index score from YouTube. Posting on the platform accounts for 41 percent of its index score, compared with 34 percent for Facebook and 25 percent for Twitter.

The chain’s most recent and most popular video is a 15-second commercial for the Ciabatta Jack Sandwich, a new permanent menu item it introduced this month. However, Long John Silver’s Facebook activity also stood out for generating more engagement for combining cause marketing with its promotion of National Talk Like a Pirate Day. A picture the brand shared of a pirate-theme children’s hospital room, which Long John Silver’s pointed out to remind fans that it sponsors Children’s Miracle Network, earned more than 330 likes and nearly 60 shares.

Contact Mark Brandau at
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN