Despite the negative headlines that the fast food industry tends to generate, a new report shows that the vast majority of opinions about the industry on social media are positive.
A new study by New York City–based research firm Amplicate, “Public Opinion on Fast Food Chains in the U.S. on Social Media,” shows that 70 percent of all opinions posted about the industry on social media in the last year were positive.
Juan Alvarez, CEO of Amplicate, says his firm used a complex system to gather information across Twitter and Facebook about consumer sentiment.
“People might be talking about a very specific fast food restaurant around the corner, but if they talk about the big ones—McDonald’s, Popeyes, Burger King—we capture that opinion, we calculate if it’s positive or negative, and we track all of the trends and all of the statistics behind that.”
The study found that Subway earned the most positivity on social media, with 83 percent of opinion on the chain being positive. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was second with 79 percent.
Alvarez says Subway probably performed well because social media opinion on sandwiches in general was very positive.
Burger chains, on the other hand, did not perform as well in the study. Burger King was ranked last among chains studied, with 47 percent of opinion on it in social media being positive. It was followed by McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
“That doesn’t mean people hate burgers, but people have complained about burgers more in the last 12 months than any other thing in the fast food industry,” Alvarez says, noting that the sheer size of the burger industry probably swayed opinion negatively as well.
Alvarez says companies disappointed in the study’s results should focus on ramping up their social media efforts, which he says should include “constantly interacting with the consumers and actually understand what they’re saying.”
“So basically it’s just following and understanding the kind of things people are concerned about,” he says, noting that promotional campaigns including gift certificates and product releases with fruits and vegetables often led to bumps in positive opinion on social media.
“So if I were McDonald’s, I would think about doing another campaign with the gift certificates, I would think about offering more veggie offerings, that kind of stuff.”
By Sam Oches