[Research] 3 Steps for Fast Food Brands to Build Customer Loyalty on Social Media

By: Sofie De Beule

January 8, 2015

We took a deep dive into America’s top fast food chains to uncover how well these brands engage with their respective audiences. Over the course of one month, we tracked the social media account activity of 6 major brands – McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts – finding that, surprisingly, these chains aren’t communicating on social with their fans nearly as much as they should be.

How well are fast food brands engaging with their audience?

On average, 1 out of every 4 interactions with fast food chains on Facebook and Twitter are negative, yet these companies are still neglecting to respond to 90% of their customers. Throughout the month, a few companies stood out for both positive and negative reasons.

Pizza Hut was the most engaged with followers on social responding to 15% of mentions received and turned around replies in just under 1.5 hours. On the opposite end, Dunkin’ Donuts never responded to customers, and McDonald’s took an average of 5 hours and 12 minutes to reply.

Brands can easily break the recurring pattern of disappointing social customer service by implementing a response plan for every type of post. There are 3 simple steps to turn a brand’s social media reputation around and ultimately build loyalty and customer retention:

Step 1: Organize All Incoming Messages and Posts

Analyze each mention before replying and establish an automatic process to immediately tag mentions that fit certain criteria. By grouping messages into specific folders based on content, it’s much easier to establish the tone needed for each response. This assists the response process and ensures that all messages are cared for in the right manner.

Step 2: Turn Negative Comments Into Positive Conversations

Think about the quantity of people that pass through a McDonald’s or Burger King drive-thru on a daily basis. Because there’s a much higher volume of customers than typical sit-down restaurants, there will be a higher volume of social chatter around their quality of food and service. Instead of acknowledging negative comments with a generic response, find creative and positive ways to address each situation. This not only fosters transparency on social, but also cultivates a feeling of genuine care for customers.

Step 3: Actively Share Positive Feedback

Positive reinforcement works well in the land of social media. After responding to customers, companies need to keep the positive momentum going by rewarding brand advocates and thanking happy followers (i.e. nominating frequent customers as the “Fan of the Week.”) Nothing gets followers going more than knowing who or what they love is appreciative of their dedication. By making it a priority to engage with satisfied customers and go above and beyond in gratitude, these customers are more likely to continue being brand evangelists.

To date, retaining loyal customers was never much of a problem for fast food chains. But, as more and more eateries (looking at you, fast casual newbies!) try to swoop millennial diners, it’s time for these establishments to super size their social media efforts and connect with patrons in their language – social media.