Best Practices in Social Media Use and Interactivity by Restaurant Chains

Open Access
Guarna, Natalie Ellen
Area of Honors:
Advertising/Public Relations
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Francis Erin Dardis, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Fuyuan Shen, Honors Advisor
  • Social media
  • interactivity
  • engagement
  • Instagram
  • Restaurants
  • Food
  • Food marketing
In recent years, the social media platform Instagram has experienced an explosion of food content, and this trend has important implications for restaurant brands. Though extensive research has outlined the benefits of customer interactivity on brand social media pages, few studies make specific recommendations for the types of content that should be used to encourage customer engagement. This study examined the Instagram pages of the top six restaurant chain brands to determine what content is being posted, how much interactivity this content receives, and what post attributes are related to high levels of interactivity. A content analysis of 240 Instagram posts from the top six restaurant brands’ accounts demonstrated that most marketers are currently using the post types and primary focuses that elicit the most engagement. They are not, however, following the best practices for making optimal use of post characteristics like word count, hashtags and tagged users. A negative correlation between level of interactivity and total following suggests that most followers are, at present, passive participants. Implications for applying these findings to the improvement of restaurant brand Instagram pages are discussed.