Social Media Strategy Review: Restaurants and Cafes

Apeksha Harihar
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social media strategy Restaurants & cafes

Social Media offers restaurants and cafes with incredible opportunities to connect with their patrons and interact with them. Since the restaurant business is social in nature, it should be the most buzzing sector on social media, for obvious reasons. Outlet launches, product announcements and updates on various offers could be the key to drive footfalls through Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter has been an extremely successful tool for restaurants, both large and small, starting with posh diners to mobile street vendors. They can do a lot in terms of reaching their target footfalls, right from branded hashtags to running interesting contests. These businesses can easily execute in-store social campaigns while integrating it with online platforms.

I am excited at being able to write this post, since I am an absolute foodie and would love to analyze how some of the leading brands are performing. I have based my study on the 10 brands mentioned below between 1st July, 2013 and 25th October, 2013.

  1. McDonalds India
  2. Pizza Hut Celebrations
  3. Domino's Pizza India
  4. Subway India
  5. Café Coffee Day
  6. KFC India
  7. Dunkin Donuts India
  8. Taco Bell India
  9. Barista Lavazza
  10. Starbucks India

Community Building

Community building on Facebook is an activity that is crucial to all brands, not simply because fans need to be collected, but because an increase in engagement is directly proportional to the number of fans.

Among restaurants and cafes, KFC India has the highest number of fans at over 5.3 million, with Domino's India almost holding hands with KFC India at over 5.2 million fans.

In terms of growth, Starbucks India has the highest growth rate on Facebook with an 89.94% increase in their fan base. The growth rate has almost a duplicate number for the brand on Twitter too. Starbucks has increased its follower base on Twitter by 65.71% in the last 3 months. It would be interesting to see if this rapid growth continues for Starbucks considering the initial traction period is now over.

Community building by resturants and cafe Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

On Twitter however, KFC is lagging behind with only a little over 4,000 followers, while Domino's Pizza fills a giant gap in this sector with over 23,000 followers, clearly winning the race.

McDonald's India, Subway, and Dunkin Donuts do not seem to have an official presence on Twitter. As much as it surprises me to discover this about the above mentioned leading brands, I believe this is because they want to concentrate on one social platform instead of jumping into many. If this is the case, I hope to see some excellent social media strategy on their Facebook accounts as I analyze further.

Community building by resturants and cafe on twitter Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Content Strategy

Domino's Pizza India, on an average, posts 7 times a day. Other brands stick to anywhere between 2-4 posts a day. Though Starbucks India has a great engagement score of 668 and a sizeable fan base, they skip posting on certain days.

On Twitter, Domino's has made the most number of tweets, which is on average 13 tweets, with 7 retweets and 7 replies a day. Little wonder then that it is also a leader in conversations on the micro blogging site.

Content strategy of restaurants and cafe Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

interactions of resturants and cafe brand on twitter Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

- Highly Differentiated Content Buckets

Brands should realize that there is a difference between asking fans to share existing content on the page and actually creating content that will be shared willingly. For instance, Barista posts an image and has asked its fans to share it. Without any motive for fans to share the image, it resulted in the image not being shared at all. On the other hand, Café Coffee Day has posted a very well designed creative image, related to the brand philosophy, and has landed the post 144 shares voluntarily.

facebook post comparison of cafe brand

Starbucks creates fun content using its coffee cups which attracts a lot of engagement. The content is not only creatively presented but also, since it’s posted on a Monday, people instantly relate to it.

facebook post by starbucks india

Apart from this, they are also branding themselves very well through social platforms. They are conveying a message that it is not only about the products, but also covers the entire experience at their outlets. For instance, they tweeted about the Starbucks apron with what looks like a heavily Instagramed photo.

Twitter update by starbucks

- Hash-tag performance

Using hashtags has been a daily activity for brands and trending them is one of the common success rates on Twitter. However, creating hashtags that people will remember needs originality and brilliant content creation techniques. Hashtags like #Notsosweet and #MrMantasticSays are some that I will remember for life owing to the brilliant campaigns associated with them.

Domino's India has created some very popular hashtags. #Tananananare  (the famous 1 free pizza on another offer) and #ZodiacBabaKiJai (a contest) are two such hash-tags which received between 3,000-5,000 mentions.

Hashtag performances by various restaurants and cafe Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Food Pictures work for Restaurants

Domino's is one of those few brands that has pulled off a good social media strategy with its product images. This is probably due to the popularity of the brand. Connecting product images with quipped lines has worked very well for Domino's.

Food picture by domino's pizza india

food picture by domino's pizza

KFC and McDonald's India are also product oriented on Social Media, but Domino's depends only on product pictures. KFC India and McDonald's are plainly promoting their products while Domino's is using quirky and witty lines to engage its users.

- Use of Applications

KFC India launched the Krusher Campaign where comics were created out of user stories. The graphic novel was a journey a user took as a lead character, with KFC’s new product being branded across the comic novel.

KFC Krusher Campaign app

Starbucks also has an application named ‘Passion for Coffee’ which lets users invite friends who love coffee and add a personalized message. However, this application is not being used by many users, and could have been executed better.

Starbucks passion for coffee app

Café Coffee Day has the highest number of applications (10) and has promoted its well designed applications brilliantly. It also attracts the highest number of monthly active users with 2,232 people using the app on a monthly basis. Domino's Pizza and KFC India also have over 1,700 users.

Unfortunately, the remaining brands do not even reach 1/3rd the number of users that these 3 brands have.

App responses of restaurant and cafe Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Store opening updates

KFC India and Starbucks have consistently used Facebook and Twitter to announce new store openings. Though they have not used the milestone feature, they have posted updates with images. It’s a great way to let fans know about the latest happenings of the brand.

KFC new store opening update

Starbucks new store opening update

Does Hard Selling work?

Some brands are hard selling their food products on Social Media. Subway India, for instance, only showcases its products with nothing exciting on its page. Would posts like these increase engagement for a food brand? I don’t think so. And like I mentioned above, considering the brand only has a presence on Facebook, my expectations were raised, which, after looking through the content, have been severely disappointed.

I see these images on hoardings, print adverts and even on television. Why would I want to see the same thing on Social Media?

Subway India social media update

It is pretty much the same with McDonald's India's page too, except that they are also using it for other purposes.

Facebook update by McDonalds

Apart from the routine posts, they are also running a campaign called #McCafeishere to promote the new launch of first of its kind store. Users are asked to upload pictures at the store using the hash-tag on a link to win prizes.

Facebook update by McDonalds

Dunkin Donuts is no different from Subway India and McDonald's India, possibly even worse. However I found 1 post, which displays exactly how advertising on Social Media should be done. They have showcased an offer by actually taking a picture and uploading it along with tagging the people in it at the store.

Dunkin Donuts social media update

Cover Photos

Brands are using cover photos in the ideal way so far. Most of them are introducing new products while some are celebrating offers. Café Coffee Day uses cover photos very creatively.

Cafe Coffee Day Cover Photo

Community Engagement

I mentioned above that an increase in fans is directly proportional to an increase in engagement if the brand has a good social media strategy. KFC India and Starbucks India prove my point considering that the former engaged best with its audience on Facebook (engagement score of 84) while the latter can be credited for the same on Twitter.

KFC India received the most likes per post, an average of 10,000 and received a wider audience with most shares per post, an average of 411. The People Talking about Score (PTAT) was 4.76%.

Customer engagement by restaurants and cafe brands Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

Customer engagement of various brands on facebook Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool

On Twitter, Dominos India had the highest number of retweets, replies and favorites, per post. The brand received an average of 5 retweets, 5 replies and 1 favourite per tweet. Café Coffee Day and Starbucks India were close to an average of 2 retweets and replies per tweet.

Starbucks engaged exceptionally well with its followers with the best engagement score of 668. However, the majority of the brands are hardly scoring on Twitter and this includes Barista, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell India, which should make them consider a makeover for their Twitter strategies.

Note: Engagement is based on a weighted average of the responses to a brand's proactive tweets expressed as a percentage of the estimated Audience Reception Rate.

Customer engagement on Twitter

Customer Service

On Facebook and Twitter, the brands are not doing a great job with their habit of responding to customer posts and tweets. Subway India responded the most to 63.64% customer posts, while KFC India responded the fastest within 9 hours and 22 minutes.

McDonald's India is the only brand which has not opened up its page to customer posting or present on Twitter. I assume the fast food brand is either disinterested in customer feedback or is extremely fearful of customer opinion.

Customer service

While Dominos India has the best average reply time at 10 hours and 34 minutes, it is hardly something to boast about since they have only responded to 2.46% of the overall customer tweets, while Taco Bell India has the best response rate at 89.91% but takes an average of 8 days to respond.

But then, a question arises in my mind, do restaurants and cafes need customer service on social media, unlike the telecom or the ecommerce industry? KFC India answers this question by being consistent in responses on Social Media while McDonald's India merely copies and pastes standard lines.

Customer reply by KFC

Customer reply by McDonalds

customer reply by various brands on twitter Source: Unmetric – A Social Media Analytics Tool


On Facebook and Twitter both, the sentiment is hardly negative. Food and beverage comments usually see a high sense of enthusiasm and happiness since the brand is a favourite among followers/fans. Starbucks India has the highest net positive sentiment on Facebook and Twitter.

Sentiment response towards brands by users


Overall the sector is divided into two, with one group doing very well, and the other not performing to the mark. Brands should give social media more of an open chance to accept feedback, take corrective measures and understand their audience. Most importantly they should strategize better, in order to drive footfalls rather than concentrate on hard selling.

Analytics support courtesy: Unmetric

social media strategy Twitter Facebook McDonalds India KFC India Taco Bell Community Building Subway Dominos Pizza Pizza Hut starbucks india Dunkin' Donuts Café Coffee Day Barista Lavazza Facebook Applications Community Engagement creating content content srategy using hashtags