I’m starting to do some work for a client in the restaurant industry, so this week has been devoted to exploring how restaurants are currently using social media.
The starting point for my research was a Social Media for Restaurants blog post by David Finch and this listing of the top 25 Most Social Restaurants that I found in an article posted at National Restaurant News (nrn.com). One interesting insight is that the top 9 brands and 17 of the top 25 brands are “quick-service” or fastfood restaurant chains. Which begs the question, where are the rest of the casual dining brands?
From my quick review, most of these ‘social’ restaurants have a fairly decent and active Facebook Fan Page presence. However except for Starbucks, the Twitter presence of the top five restaurant brands is pretty weak as noted below.
The top 4 brands make sense to be on the list because of their huge Facebook followings. I was surprised to find Krystal Burgers on the list because I had never heard of them before (probably because I haven’t spent much time eating square burgers in the South). Krystal actually has 380 restaurants scattered across Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and Louisana and is dwarfed by any of the other top 5 brands.
Interestingly, I think Krystal is doing the best job of leveraging social media than any of these much larger brands. The reason that swayed my opinion is Krystal’s separate website called Krystalist which is the name they use to refer to Krystal “enthusiasts” and this site totally about social media.
First of all, the Krystalist site is essentially a blog with the goal of giving fans an:
inside look at what’s going on at Krystal — from sneak-peek looks inside the Krystal test kitchen, to behind-the-scenes at new restaurant openings, to everything small and square.
How is that for transparency? This is exactly the type of interesting information and stories I want to hear from my restaurant brand. By providing stories such as the author’s Christmas Eve tradition of sharing a bag of Krystal Burgers with the family while watching cheesy Christmas movies or the personal story of a fan who was recently inducted into the Krystal Hall of Fame, I feel a tighter connection and bond with the brand. Plus, the regularly updated blog gives me a reason to come back to the site frequently which keeps Krystal at the top of my mind for when I have a choice of restaurants to patronize.
In addition to the blog, the site includes links and RSS feeds from the company’s pages on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr along with an RSS newsfeed. Each blog post also provides readers with easy links to share the post on the top bookmarking sites. Essentially, all of the buzz about Krystal Burgers is available in one tidy location.
So, my hat is off to the Krystalist team – well done! And I strongly hope that the way they use social media is copied by my favorite brands.
Tomorrow, I will present some thoughts and recommendations for using Twitter in the restaurant industry.