Using social media as a marketing tool is a must in today's restaurant world, but some are more savvy than others. To measure it, we put together an infographic tracking how the 50 largest fast casual restaurant brands use the major social media sites, including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.
If such a title existed, Chipotle would be crowned king of social media as it came in first on its number of followers on Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. It came in fourth when it comes to gathering followers on Facebook and 10th with Pinterest.
If Chipotle is king, Panda Express could be deemed queen. Although it took the first-place spot on only one social media site, that one site was the biggie: Facebook. Panda boasts more than 3.2 million likes. Panera Bread also deserves a shout out considering it has the largest number of Pinterest followers – more than 34,000.
It's clear that Facebook is still the social media of choice when it comes to restaurant marketing. Experts have predicted that Google+ will catch up soon, but it has a lot to make up, considering Chipotle leads that category with just 95,000 followers and Five Guys is next with a mere 2,000 followers.
For the record, we only looked at the top 50 chains by annual sales as listed in Technomic's 2013 Top 150 Fast Casual Restaurant report. We understand that tons of smaller chains are also social media savvy, but that's a whole other infographic.
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Cherryh Butler has been a reporter and editor for nearly 15 years, writing on a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining Networld Media Group as managing editor of Food/Retail Publications, she was content specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City and has served as editor for several publications, including FastCasual.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.