Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Restaurant Twitter 50

It’s hardly a jaw-dropper that Starbucks, with nearly 1 million followers, is the restaurant industry’s most popular tweeter. But what do you make of the Kogi Truck ranking second, with double the followers of McDonald’s, about 62,000 more fans than chef Thomas Keller, and six times the audience of the most-followed full-service chain?

That, by the way, wouldn’t be Applebee’s, Chili’s, Red Lobster, T.G.I. Friday’s or any of the other casual-dining giants. To put it in perspective, Olive Garden has 195 followers; Ruby Tuesday, a mere 75, and the segment’s largest player, 1,000-plus-unit Applebee’s, just 145. The Twitter heartthrob of the sector, Maggiano's, might pick up that many followers in a month, with the tally currently standing at 11,522.

Before I explain what this is all about, savor one more bombshell discovery from a few hours spent trawling the Twitter-verse. The most popular individual tweeter in the restaurant industry, as determined by the number of followers, is celebrity chef Rick Bayless, with more than 60,000 followers, a quantum leap from peers in white like Thomas Keller (5,064 fans) and Emeril Lagasse (2,023).

But close on his heels is Paul Barron, the founder of and a frequent speaker on the show circuit, with 52,308 followers. A hit TV show and winning a celebrity-studded, televised culinary competition are not among his list of accomplishments.

The other industry figures meriting a star on the Twitter Walk of Fame are the anonymous DenverChefDude, with 41,753 followers; consultant Jeffrey Summers, with 25,539; consultant Amanda Hite, a.k.a. SexyThinker, 21,000; Orrick Nepomuceno, the Denver-based headhunter, with 6,498 followers for his Orrickn identity; and Joni Doolin, the CEO of People Repor, with 6,021 fans for her postings as LuckyPenny.

So what’s this all about?

Everyone in the restaurant industry is talking about Twitter, but no one’s doing anything to measure it. So I decided last week to look at every industry tweeter that came to mind—about 400, by my estimation—and see how many followers each has drawn. Below is the Twitter 50, a definite popularity contest. But note that this master ranking is limited to restaurant chains, operators, chefs, consultants and industry-specific media. Suppliers aren’t included, though I will have a ranking of them in the near future.

Nor does the popularity extend to consumer-focused parties that tweet about where to eat, like a Gawker or an Eater. It’s also limited to U.S. tweeters.

The folks at Nielsen [full disclosure: a former employer] probably aren’t quaking in their neatly tied oxfords, but this may be as scientific a ranking as you’ll currently find.

I’m going to follow this overall ranking with a list tomorrow of the individuals with the most followers, then the industry media with the biggest audiences.

No doubt I’ve missed some people, and follower counts can rise and fall so quickly that the snapshot might be a little dated, even though it was taken last week.

So I’m welcoming comments, suggestions and criticisms, since I plan to give Nielsen a run for its money when it comes to industry social media.

Only kidding, Scary Guy I Used To See on the Elevator.


Tweeter IDFollowers
Starbucks 946,396
Kogibbq (Kogi Truck)67,325
DunkinDonuts 54,100
DenverChefDude (anonymous Denver chef) 41,747
Sexythinker (Amanda Hite)20,819
JackBox (Jack in the Box)17,667
TidBitBistro (Seattle indy)16,166
KFC_colonel (KFC)14,731
QMG (Restaurant Marketing/Aaron Allen)9,090
Kimpton (Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)8,314
DairyQueen 7,434
CounterBurger (The Counter chain)7,364
NaplesTomato (Naples Tomato chain)6,575
AJBombers (Milwaukee burger joint)6,549
Orrickn (Orrick Nepomuceno)6,498
Hooters 6,458
SepthAndTheGoat (chef Stephanie Izard) 6,354
CalPizzaKitchen (California Pizza Kitchen) 6,243
LuckyPenny (Joni Doolin) 6,021
BusboysAndPoets (D.C. area’s Busboys chain) 5,950
Five_Guys(Five Guys Burgers & Fries)5,826
RickshawTruck (NYC dumpling truck)5,677
FoodBizTweet (anonymous 'Celeb Chef')5,337
NRNonline (Nation’s Restaurant News)5,242
Thomas Keller5,064
CalbiBBQ (Calbi BBQ truck)5,063
ChefTony (Chef Tony Marciante)4,778
Burger_Lounge (Burger Lounge, San Diego) 4,593
MOOYAHburger 4,565
ChefTramanto (chef Rick Tramanto)4,427
StreetzaPizza (Milwaukee pizza truck)4,440
CIACulinary (Culinary Institute of America)4,181


Unknown said...

Hi, great post. But, was this only based on the number of followers a person has? I'm not sure I agree with the assessment of the post if so. What about the amount a person is Re-tweeted? That is a huge indication of the influence a tweet has. You also left out Yard House, they have over 12,000 followers and are great at their Social Media. Or CPK who has over 6,000 followers?

Unknown said...

Great list, thanks for doing. Cool to see you included Milwaukee's Streetza Pizza. Need to also include @AJBombers - over 6,500 followers and tons of local/national press coverage if you want to know more.

Unknown said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for this post, but was this list only determined by the amount of followers a person has? If so, I can't agree with the assessment. What about the amount of re-tweets a person gets? You should check out It measures exactly what you are trying to, the influence of twitter users. It takes into account the number of followers, re-tweets and how many times they tweet. If you look under "restaurant" category it does list many of the ones you have, but in a more accurate assessment I think.
If your list is only determined by the number of followers, then you missed Yard House (12, 000 followers) and California Pizza Kitchen (6,000 followers). Both do a fantastic job with their Social Media.


Peter Romeo said...

Thanks for the feedback. The point about factoring retweets into the ranking is a great one, but perhaps a little unfeasible at this point.

AJ Bombers and California Pizza Kitchen were added, but a check of Yard House's followers showed under 2,200, so they won't rank.

Unknown said...

Can you make this a list on Twitter so we can follow?!

Unknown said...

Thank you for putting together this list Peter. I think it shows how twitter and other social media are truly the great equalizers. How else would a single pizza truck from Milwaukee be listed amongst Pizza Hut, California Pizza Kitchen and other industry giants.

Unknown said...

Thank you for putting together this list Peter. I think it showcases that social media is truly the great equalizer. A single pizza truck from Milwaukee being listed amongst such industry giants such as Pizza Hut and California Pizza Kitchen shows that with a little effort, Twitter can become a powerful tool to communicate with your customers and potential customers.

Physically Knotted said...

How did Rick Bayless and his 59966 followers not make the list??

Physically Knotted said...

@StephAndTheGoat (Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard) also has 6352 followers, putting her somewhere in the middle of your list.

Peter Romeo said...

Thanks for the input, Physically Knotted. Those tweeters were added to the charts and the analysis was adjusted accordingly.

Anonymous said...

@PaneraBread has 12,906 followers.

Peter Romeo said...

Thanks for pointing out the omission of Panera, and my apologies to that chain.

Kasey said...

Thanks for getting us thinking, Peter. It inspired our article ( and a nice conversation with Streetza Pizza, as a follow up to meeting them at NRA.

Richard said...

Good Stuff!
don't forget to follow us for all your Boston Burger needs!

Unknown said...

Peter, loved this post, it's good info and I know it took you some time to compile. With the miniscule following I have in comparison, I bow to others! @Leslie_Kerr (maybe that'll get me 1 more follower!)

Unknown said...

Loved this post, Peter - good info and I know it was some hefty research on your part. I am in awe of some of those heavy hitters! @Leslie_Kerr (that's a subtle attempt to get 1 more follower).

Unknown said...

I think I may add this to my bio :-) you rock! @luckypenny

Yard House said...

This is a great group of folks! Curious as to how you compiled this list? What source(s) did you use?

Unknown said...

We (@nakedpizza) have a nice little mosh pit of conversation going on in our neighborhood. Fascinating to see how it plays internationally in places like the Middle East. Good news; authenticity travels well.