Burger Wars: Social Media Edition

Burger King reigns on Facebook; McDonald's is "Biggest Mac" on Twitter

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CHICAGO -- Over the past 50 years, fast-food chains have redefined the American dining experience. In the age of social media, public scrutiny is at an all time high, and these restaurants have a new opportunity to connect with and understand the interaction between fans and fast food.

Unmetric, a social benchmarking company, has released its Fast Food Report, detailing the social media efforts of the top 16 fast-food chains in 2012 to better understand the interaction between the top quick-serve restaurants and their customers on social media. With this Fast Food Report, Unmetric identifies which chains are doing the best job at gaining new fans, keeping them updated, and carrying on conversations via social media.

The report relies on the Unmetric Score, a blend of 24 qualitative and quantitative social media metrics, weighted and balanced to produce a single benchmarkable number.

According to the Unmetric Scores, McDonald's ranks as the most astute fast food chain in social media, followed closely by Taco Bell. Not surprising, considering the two fast-food chains saw a lot of buzz in recent months (though this press was not all positive; both chains suffered from negative coverage); however, when it comes to growth and conversation for 2012, it's the McDonald's vs. Burger King rivalry that stands out.

Below is a summary of Unmetric's Fast Food Report Findings:

  • Burger King has seen 105% fan growth on Facebook since January, and the chain also claims the top spot for conversation percentage, at four%.
  • McDonald's has seen 118% follower growth on Twitter since January.
  • McDonald's replies to follower tweets faster than any other chain—in only 29 minutes. Burger King takes over two days to reply.
  • Although In-N-Out has very little social media presence overall and rarely interacts with fans and followers on Facebook or Twitter, its few posts have seen cult-like engagement from fans, resulting in the highest overall engagement score of 54.
  • Moving from burgers to burritos, Chipotle uses Twitter as a conversational tool to connect with followers, replying to 100% of its followers' 15,002 tweets.
  • Overall, 61% of fast food fans on Facebook are female.
  • Virtually all the brands saw rapid growth for January and February, which slowed down in March and by April the growth was quite sluggish.
  • As far as specific content, quick-serve restaurants mostly talk about contests and brand news over menu updates, recipes and ad campaign--though the latter bunch drives far better engagement.

Top Unmetric Scores on Facebook

  1. McDonald's (86)
  2. Taco Bell (81)
  3. Subway (77)
  4. Dunkin' Donuts (65)
  5. Baskin Robbins (63)

Top Unmetric Scores on Twitter

  1. McDonald's (97)
  2. Taco Bell (92)
  3. Chipotle (77)
  4. Pizza Hut (76)
  5. Dunkin' Donuts (74)

Fastest Growing Chains on Facebook

  1. Burger King (105%)
  2. Sonic (60%)
  3. McDonald's (56.5%)
  4. Pizza Hut (48%)
  5. Subway (40%)

Slowest Growing Chains on Facebook

  1. Chick-fil-A (6.1%)
  2. Krispy Kreme & In-N-Out (11%)
  3. Taco Bell (12%)
  4. Dunkin' Donuts (15%)

Five Fastest Growing Chains on Twitter

  1. McDonald's (118%)
  2. Burger King (35%)
  3. Sonic (31%)
  4. Chipotle (26%)
  5. Krispy Kreme (25%)

Slowest Growing Chains on Twitter

  1. Carl's Jr. (11%)
  2. In-N-Out (13%)
  3. Dairy Queen (14%)
  4. Taco Bell & Baskin Robbins (15%)

Most Tweets

  1. Chipotle (15,002)
  2. Pizza Hut (5,072)
  3. Taco Bell (3,136)
  4. Dunkin' Donuts (1,235)
  5. Carl's Jr. (1,159)

Most Replies on Twitter

  1. Chipotle (15,002)
  2. Pizza Hut (5,021)
  3. Taco Bell (2,854)
  4. Dunkin' Donuts (951)
  5. Carl's Jr. (585)

Highest Engagement (Calculation of Likes, Comments, Shares and Impressions that each FB post receives)

  1. In-N-Out (54)
  2. Taco Bell (51)
  3. Chick-fil-A (28)
  4. McDonald's (27)
  5. Krispy Kreme (26)

Fastest Average Reply Time on Twitter

  1. McDonald's (:29)
  2. Chipotle (:37)
  3. Chick-fil-A (:42)
  4. Taco Bell (:46)
  5. Krispy Kreme (1:39)

Slowest Average Reply Time on Twitter

  1. Burger King (60:29)
  2. Carl's Jr. (14:53)
  3. Dairy Queen (12:33)
  4. Baskin Robbins (8:09)
  5. Sonic (7:09)

Most Female Fans on Facebook

  1. Baskin Robbins (80%)
  2. Dairy Queen (72%)
  3. Sonic (70%)
  4. Dunkin' Donuts (67%)
  5. Chick-fil-A (66%)

Most Male Fans on Facebook

  1. Carl's Jr. (53%)
  2. Krispy Kreme (51%)
  3. In-N-Out (46%)
  4. Burger King (45%)
  5. KFC (44%)

"Large fast food chains have long dominated commercial airwaves," said Unmetric CEO, Lux Narayan, "but in the era of social media these restaurants have a new opportunity to directly engage with fans and seek out a competitive edge. The Unmetric Fast Food Report provides a first look at social media benchmarks and reveals how each chain uses various tactics to uniquely connect with fans and followers."

Chicago-based Unmetric compiled its report by sourcing data from its social media benchmark platform. All statistics were gathered from Jan. 1, 2012 to April 30, 2012.