During Father’s Day Weekend and the five days that followed, the restaurant brands that made the largest moves up the NRN Social 200 index did so with several different content strategies.


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Whether they launched giveaways, celebrated a promotion for their hometown hockey team or a momentous brand anniversary, the common theme uniting last week’s five top-gaining brands was staying active on Facebook and Twitter.

The NRN Social 200 is an index that monitors and measures the social media success of the Top 200 largest restaurant brands, based on Nation’s Restaurant News’ annual census of brand U.S. sales. NRN has partnered with social media tracking and analysis firm TrackingSocial to create the index, which explores the engagement level and relationship between the largest restaurant brands and their social media audiences on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The two biggest gainers in the index last week focused on giveaways. Panda Express executed a one-day complimentary offer of its signature Orange Chicken dish June 21, while Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub’s giveaway was more spontaneous yet still effective.

Papa Gino’s Pizza, Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits and A&W All-American Food also found ways to engage with customers, highlighting different occasions to celebrate in mid-June, including Father’s Day.

1. Panda Express
Weekly percent change: +23.0%
Index score: 28.39

Panda Express

Panda Express derives almost all of its engagement via Facebook, and the seven-day period started with a successful Father’s Day post that received more than 4,000 likes. But for the rest of the week, Panda Express garnered several thousand more likes and shares while promoting its systemwide free Orange Chicken giveaway, which took place on the evening of Friday, June 21. The brand’s best-performing Facebook post received more than 20,000 likes, nearly 6,000 shares and nearly 950 comments on its own.

2. Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub
Weekly percent change: +15.9%
Index score: 7.93

Casual-dining chain Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub also effected a double-digit surge in its Social 200 index score with a giveaway. On a June 18 post on Facebook — the brand’s principle engagement medium — Ninety Nine wrote, “Tell us what your favorite entrée is, and we will randomly pick one of the responses to win a Ninety Nine gift card!” The post received far more participation than the chain’s typical posts for the week: more than 550 likes and more than 2,000 comments, compared with average totals of a few dozen likes and fewer than 10 comments per post.

3. Papa Gino’s Pizza
Weekly percent change: +13.9%
Index score: 6.86

Papa Ginos

Papa Gino’s Pizza kept a busy schedule posting photos and updates to its Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as responding promptly to questions, complaints and compliments. The content varied from a Father’s Day post to Instagram shots of new pizzas in its test kitchen. Sports-related promotions seemed to engender the most social-media participation, especially Facebook posts showing pizzas topped to look like the logo of the Boston Bruins, who were facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Bojangles' and A&W

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4. Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits
Weekly percent change: +13.7%
Index score: 13.50

The quick-service chain is continually active on Facebook and Twitter, and on both platforms Bojangles’ engagement picked up when the brand pivoted from Father’s Day posts to a picture of its breakfast sandwiches and a shot from its franchisee convention that featured recording artist and spokesman Scotty McCreery. However, in the past two days, the brand’s Facebook posts from last week have received some unwanted engagement in the form of people linking to a Reddit.com article in which a customer showed a picture of raw chicken allegedly served at his local Bojangles’ in Walterboro, S.C. Thus far, the brand has not responded with a Facebook post or a tweet.

5. A&W All-American Food
Weekly percent change: +12.3%
Index score: 12.69

A&W

The quick-service chain manages two active social-media platforms on Facebook and Twitter, the latter as the personal handle of its mascot, Rooty. Last week, the A&W celebrated its 94th anniversary as a brand, and the images that received the most retweets on Twitter and likes and shares on Facebook were vintage ads and restaurant photos of A&W throughout the decades.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN