Thursday, December 9, 2010

Restaurants' use of social media by the #'s

How much is social media worth to restaurant chains? A new study has pegged the values for the nation’s largest fast-food brands, proving in the process that Twitter and Facebook can be great levelers.

Jamba Juice, for instance, wracked up the equivalent of $2.1 million in marketing exposure through social media mentions—its own, plus consumers’—during September, October and November. That provided more online exposure than what bigger players like Dairy Queen fostered, and roughly as much attention as Subway snagged, according to the study, which was prepared by a company called General Sentiment. You can see the study here.

The report is part of a recent wave of statistics on restaurants’ use of social media. A San Francisco-based company called Freshendo, for instance, recently benchmarked Twitter use by the local restaurant community. Only 10% of local places use the micro-blogging service, the upstart found. Yet some of the users generate as much as 20% of their business through that medium, with the number of followers averaging 900.

The concern intends to help more restaurants hit and exceed that number by using Twitter as a real-time promotional tool.

The unexploited potential of social media is also underscored by the survey that was recently conducted by and covered by Technorati. The research revealed that only 42% of restaurant operators and managers use social media to promote their establishments, and 23% see no value in starting.

The figures taken together suggest that the opportunities afforded by social media are still largely neglected because restaurateurs lack the time to tweet, post or blog themselves, and are short on the funds to hire a keyboard jockey.

Yet the ones that have embraced the new media are clearly reaping dividends. The supply of social-media-susceptible consumers is clearly outstripping demand, at least at the present.

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