See How the Top Fast-Food Chains Are Performing on Facebook and If Fans Are Liking It

Subway proves engagement is what matters

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From posting pictures of perfectly styled burgers to responding to consumers' seemingly never-ending complaints, fast-food restaurants' use of social media runs the gamut.

To better understand how effective social media really is for these brands, SocialFlow tracked Facebook chatter across seven fast-food restaurants—McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Burger King, Sonic, Taco Bell and Wendy's—from Oct. 1 to 29.

It's important to note that Taco Bell went dark on social media on Oct. 28 as part of a marketing stunt to promote a new mobile ordering app, so a small portion of the data (from Oct. 28-29) is not indicative of how the brand typically fares on social media.

One of the key takeaways: Having a massive following doesn't correlate to engagement. For example, Subway only claims 27 million Facebook "likes" compared to McDonald's 51 million. But, the brand raked in 972,273 Facebook engagements (measuring shares and "likes") compared to Mickey D's 451,970.

Check out the below chart for a look at how often the brands post and the engagement that they are getting on Facebook. 

Brand Number of Facebook "likes" Number of posts Number of "likes" on posts Number of comments on posts Number of posts shared Total Facebook engagement
McDonald's 51,037,243 22 381,488 37,726 32,756 451,970
Subway 27,614,422 29 945,038 12,454 14,781 972,273
Taco Bell 10,637,966 12 80,264 6,343 16,488 103,095
KFC 35,609,713 10 165,419 2,213 1,535 169,167
Burger King 7,427,379 23 486,054


8,583 502,253
Wendy's 5,186,709 24 750,990 11,487 15,351 777,828
Sonic 3,039,182 39 16,832 910 2,369 20,111

Meanwhile, data from Amobee Brand Intelligence tracked the sentiment for all seven brands during the same time frame on Twitter.

Fast-food chains often face "social backlash," leaving some experts to question if brands should play on social platforms. But Amobee's data show that the bulk of fast-food-related chatter is neutral. Whether that impartiality is a win or loss is up for debate, but it does suggest that brands shouldn't shun social media.

The chart below breaks out the sentiment for each of the seven brands between Sept. 29 and Oct. 28, measuring total mentions and whether the chatter was positive, negative or neutral. The percentages are rounded, meaning that every brand's total may not add up to exactly 100 percent. 

Brand Total mentions Percent of positive tweets Percent of negative tweets Percent of neutral tweets
McDonald's (2.6 million followers) 99,258 11 11 77
Subway (2.12 million followers) 56,473 13 15 72
Taco Bell (1.41 million followers) 47,664 14 14 72
KFC (678,000 followers) 34,412 10 18 71
Burger King (915,000 followers) 18,677 8 12 81
Wendy's (654,000 followers) 3,568 19 15 67
Sonic (192,000 followers) 111 12 11 77


@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.