Several social media strategies emerged among restaurant companies trying to stay top-of-mind with their fans during the month of August, and compelling value offerings helped some of the brands with bigger levels of engagement move the needle even more.

According to a monthlong analysis of the NRN Social 200, chains showing the biggest gain in social-media interaction from week to week refreshed their Facebook and Twitter platforms with aggressive offers or slick photos of their product offerings, and those that posted more consistently tended to see their index scores improve and maintain.

Some other brands also showed that if they picked up the pace of their posting, their social-engagement scores could break out of the doldrums. But if they did not sustain that newfound level of activity, their scores showed the ability to recede to even lower levels for the last few dog days of summer.

Deals of the month

August contained some of the largest weekly gains for several industry heavyweights, which also operate from higher base Social 200 index scores. In most cases, the key factor in growing index scores by double digits off of already high values was an aggressive deal or offer.

Red Lobster, for instance, is one of the largest chains by unit count and systemwide sales to land on the weekly list of biggest Social 200 score gains this summer. During the third week of August, its score rose 12.3 percent to 47.96 on the strength of its Facebook content for the popular Endless Shrimp promotion. Its Aug. 12 post announcing the return of Endless Shrimp received more than 150,000 likes, 26,000 shares and 6,000 comments, and a complementary tweet was retweeted more than 1,300 times and favorited more than 400 times.

That same week, family-dining chain Bob Evans had the largest gain in Social 200 index scores with a 26.8-percent increase to 18.10. While the brand usually tends to favor food shots for its Facebook and Twitter posts, its messaging around a gift card sweepstakes earned the most engagement during the month. A mid-August Facebook post calling for entries into a sweepstakes for $25 gift cards or a $100 gift card grand prize received nearly 6,000 likes and more than 200 shares and 300 comments.

While Buca di Beppo’s system of 92 domestic restaurants lags far behind Red Lobster’s or Bob Evans’ systems in the United States, the casual-dining brand nonetheless notched several big increases in its Social 200 index scores, including a 29.3-percent gain to 26.76 in the third week of August. All summer, Buca di Beppo has earned social engagement, primarily through Facebook, on the strength of its deals and offers. One of its latest promotions was a $15-off coupon executed as a Facebook Offer, which was redeemed more than 86,000 times and earned more than 20,000 likes.