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Other companies made major gains in their social engagement last month by focusing on their offerings, even without any discounts. Typically, they accomplished this through professional food shots of menu items.

During the fourth week of August, for example, Caribou Coffee increased its score 10.2 percent to 17.01 by promoting its autumn lineup of pumpkin-flavored drinks and baked goods, including one food shot of the menu items that received about 3,500 Facebook likes and about 550 shares, as well as more than 100 retweets and more than 60 favorites on Twitter. Interestingly, however, Caribou spurred even more engagement by promoting the pumpkin items with just text. A “Like if you’re glad pumpkin is back” Facebook message received more than 4,400 likes and more than 125 comments, even with no picture.

In the third and fourth weeks of the month, food shots helped Noodles & Company grow its Social 200 scores 9.5 percent and 11.5 percent for the week, respectively.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.drove a 15.1-percent gain in its Social 200 score to 7.93 during the first week of August with a Facebook post of its drink and cocktail lineup carrying the caption, “What to choose?” The open-ended question, as always, sparked a lot of discussion from fans weighing in with their favorite items in the comments section, which garnered nearly 1,200 likes and 80 shares for Bubba Gump.

That same week, Charley’s Grilled Subs scored the highest weekly score increase by changing its cover photo to a food shot of the Smokehouse Bacon BBQ sandwich. The brand saw a 21.6-percent increase in its score to 7.70. The promoted post pinned to the top of Charley’s Facebook page was the first new piece of content on the brand’s page for about five days, and the resumption of activity after a few dormant days likely also contributed to the gain.

Disengagement spurs disenchantment

Così’s up-and-down August demonstrated that consistent activity on social-media platforms can bring about the fan engagement brands need, and conversely, that social-media silence can undo hard-won gains in that kind of interaction.

Though it started with a base Social 200 index score near 6.00, Così nonetheless effected a weekly gain in its score of more than 25 percent in the second and fourth weeks of August. Like Charley’s, the fast-casual sandwich chain appeared to benefit from posting relevant content on its Facebook page more frequently than it had in the months leading up to August.

In both weeks, the brand followed up a long stretch of not posting any content by sharing several pictures of a newly reopened store in Columbus, Ohio.

But the brand further showed the value of devoting the time to social-media marketing in its falloff in its Social 200 score since mid-August, when the Aug. 17 sharing of photos from Columbus was the last update to the brand’s Facebook page. As of Sept. 3, Così’s score had fallen back to 4.19 after its Facebook page had been dormant for more than two weeks. In the past week, the score had decreased 31 percent.

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