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

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 “Twitter QSR Segment.” The latter was defined as users who follow quick-service brands, use brand hashtags, search using brand-related hashtags, or interact with promoted tweets. Findings from the survey revealed that Twitter users who fall under the QSR Segment were younger (under 34 years old) and more likely to dine at a quick-service restaurant than the average Twitter user.

The QSR Segment user, according to the survey, relies on the platform to get up-to-date information related to favorite brands, to be a part of conversations around brands and products, and to learn about trending topics pertaining to brands. When it comes to content, the Twitter QSR Segment shows 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.”

“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.”

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.”

Though the “QSR Insights Survey” did not look at the impact of others’ tweets on visit and purchase decisions, it did delve into how brand tweets drive traffic. It found that 39 percent of General Twitter users reported visiting a quick-service restaurant because of a tweet, while 54 percent of the Twitter QSR Segment reported the same. Among the Twitter QSR Segment, brand followers were two times more likely to be influenced by a tweet to visit a quick-service restaurant.

“Users view Twitter as a source of information,” Carmel says. “About 37 percent tell us they use Twitter to learn about new products and 78 percent of them then purchase those products. What’s really interesting is we see 46 percent of that group make multiple purchases.”

Results from Burger King’s September 2013 Satisfries launch 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,” he says. “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’s ability to aid customer engagement through targeting is something Church’s Clayborne is very familiar with. Her team used geo-targeted tweets to help launch Church’s new “Have the Love” campaign this past August and regularly uses keyword targeting and interest targeting to connect with current and would-be guests.

“We target people who we know are interested in fast food or beverages or our company,” Clayborne says. “In fact, I think you’re wasting money and effort if you don’t.”

In addition to targeting, Church’s builds relationships with Twitter users through tactics such as direct tweets, favoriting, and retweeting posts. The interaction does not always have to be personal.

“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.”

Key, Clayborne says, is having a Twitter strategy that integrates with an overall brand marketing strategy. Church’s tweets focus on three pillars—families, food stories, and promotions/limited-time offers—and are created with its various audiences in mind at all times.

“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.”

Carmel is in the same camp. The primary thing quick-service brands should take away from the “QSR Insights Survey” is to pay attention to the consumer, he says.

“Listen to their conversations. Pick up on their signals. Take all that information, get smarter, and make your Twitter presence more impactful,” he says. “If you do that, you’ll start to see how Twitter can influence offline sales.”

Marketing & Promotions, Web Exclusives, Church's Chicken