How to Create Social Advocacy for
Your Burger Chain

Dr. Gary Edwards

Robust social advocacy is an important goal for all restaurants. But in the highly competitive Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector, social advocacy can impact brand loyalty and other variables that directly influence the brand’s bottom line.

Empathica’s 2013 QSR Benchmark Study showed that the top three burger brands by sales (McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s) scored at or near the bottom when it comes to guest satisfaction in nearly all categories. That’s a problem because the ultimate goal for burger chains isn’t to make a sale, it’s to create satisfied guests who keep coming back to their restaurants time and time again.

With the right strategy, social advocacy has the potential to help burger chains enhance the quality of the guest experience and increase loyalty by improving guest satisfaction.

Top Social Advocacy Tips for Burger Chains

Consumers love social media. In fact, research shows that more than half of all U.S. consumers use Facebook on a daily basis and 91 percent use some form of social media at least once a month.

The challenge for burger chains then is to proactively engage consumers across a range of social media outlets, converting guests into passionate brand advocates. Although social advocacy tactics vary by chain, there are several general strategies your brand can employ to create advocates in an environment where consumers are increasingly influenced by social media.

Guest reviews. Guest reviews are a foundational element of social advocacy. But here’s the catch: the

best time to capture a review can be before the guest leaves the restaurant. It’s important to encourage immediate reviews on smartphones using the voice of the guest and social media advocacy solutions.

Guest-generated images. Guest-generated images have two purposes. By encouraging guests to capture and distribute images of dining events, also known as “foodstagramming,” you can create opportunities for the social sharing of positive brand experiences, while at the same time improving the quality of the experience for the guests themselves. In some cases, negative shared images can even become catalysts for improvement in the guest experience.

Sneak peeks. Sneak peeks are a great way to engage consumers and generate new social advocates. For example, when Taco Bell used SnapChat to reveal its new Beefy Crunch Burrito, fans were motivated to engage with the brand’s social community and to act as social advocates in their circles of influence. Burger chains can use the same tactics to improve satisfaction by motivating guests to participate in social communities around new menu items.

Contests and promotions. Contests and promotions are another area in which burger chains can improve guest satisfaction and increase social advocacy. If it’s done strategically, a contest or promotion can use social networks to create enthusiasm and excitement in online communities, deepening guests’ connection to the brand and distributing positive brand messages to large, online audiences.

Leverage technology. Technology can also play an important role in improving social advocacy. By implementing a first-rate social media advocacy solution, your brand may be able to streamline the process of identifying social advocates and amplifying their messages across a range of social channels.

There is a big opportunity for QSR burger chains to take advantage of their satisfied guests in the social sphere and extend customer delight beyond just delivering good product to encompass the entire guest experience. By embracing consumer trends in mobile and social, brands can take advantage of their most valuable asset: their advocates.

Dr. Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer at Empathica, is responsible for oversight of sales, marketing, client strategy, marketing science and retail insights. Gary is involved in solving business challenges with research and technology solutions. He has served a key leadership role during program development, implementation, and follow-up with clients for the past eight years at Empathica. For over 15 years prior, Gary led worldwide and domestic research projects in customer and employee research. [LinkedIn]