Twitter Has Such a Powerful Influence on Fast-Food Dining

Why Twitter Has Such a Powerful Influence on Fast-Food Dining

Of the various social media platforms available to promote restaurants and businesses, Twitter is among the top three referrers of web traffic. Twitter can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for restaurants, but because of the real-time aspect of tweets, Twitter can also have wicked repercussions for restaurant owners not paying attention.

According to new research on the quick-serve dining segment released by Twitter, users who engage with quick-service brands via Twitter are more likely to visit a restaurant.

QSR Magazine, which offers fast food restaurant news and information to the quick-service industry, reports that Twitter conducted its “QSR Insights Survey” over a four-week period in March 2014 in conjunction with Milward Brown Digital.

More than 5,000 Twitter users participated and were split into two groups, “General Twitter” and users who follow quick-service brands, use brand hashtags, search using brand-related hashtags, or interact with promoted tweets, defined as the “Twitter QSR Segment.”

Twitter users in the QSR Segment were under 34 years old and more likely to dine at a quick-service restaurant than the average Twitter user. The Twitter QSR Segment possess a high interest in promotions and deals, with 46 percent reporting promotional content as the No. 1 reason they engage with a brand on Twitter. Customer service was No. 2.

“We know 66 percent of [quick-service] diners have had a bad experience, and that 29 percent of those have voiced that on Twitter,” says Ori Carmel, a Twitter vertical marketing manager who focuses on the quick-service space.

“When a brand responds, we see guests return at a rate of 80 percent. When brands don’t, we see that drop to 31 percent.”

Equally important is how a brand responds to a customer service issue, says Kira Clayborne, social media specialist at Church’s Chicken. “We acknowledge the complaint or issue as soon as possible then invite the person to e-mail us for additional details,” she says. “We want to publicly show we value the relationship, then privately take care of the issue.”

As QSR Magazine points out, Church’s approach to online customer service management is in itself an acknowledgement of the influence Twitter has. “One follower can have followers and influence among thousands of others,” Clayborne says. “For us, the value of a Twitter relationship is word-of-mouth marketing.”

Carmel, Twitter’s marketing manager notes users view Twitter as a source of information to learn about new products and then purchase those products; the results from Burger King’s September 2013 Satisfries launch seems to support that finding.

According to a Nielsen Brand Effect study, 50 percent of @BurgerKing followers who were exposed to promoted tweets and were aware of Satisfries said they intended to try the new french fries, making them 257 percent more likely than those not exposed.

Carmel attributes results like those to Twitter’s “DNA … live, public, and constant.”

“The real-time element is what makes Twitter intrinsically different from other social media platforms,” says Carmel. “When I’m hungry at 11 p.m., I can tweet about it and have a brand respond. We can target a customer at the moment they are ready to order.”

Twitter can be also used to build relationships with customers with direct tweets, favoriting, and retweeting posts.

“People go crazy over a brand showing them a little love,” Clayborne says. “Favoriting is different than re-tweeting, but it has the same impact: The user sees we are paying attention.”

Clayborne adds that the key is having a Twitter strategy that integrates with an overall brand marketing strategy.

“You need to understand when your audience is on Twitter and how often they want to be talked to,” she says. “From there, focus on your content. Everything goes back to content and your ability to understand your audience.”

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