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Humanizing the Transaction via Social Media

Fast food chains and Starbucks rule the social media space in the restaurant category, according to data shared by New Media Expo (via an Infographic, no less.)

The top spots are dominated, in fact, by the large chains serving up lattes and quick bites. As word was shared of this culinary triumph, commenters recognized how the term “restaurant” seemed to only include “casual dining” chains. It begs the question – why is it only fast food restaurants having so much success in social media?

The experience is typically a grander affair when we are spending a paycheck for an evening out. We might spend several hours at a restaurant with family or friends. The food, while important, is just one part of the recipe. The experience is what earns praise from Yelp reviewers.

“Another great thing about this particular dining experience is that it was fun.”

You can be comfortable, natural and just enjoy.”

Consider the way fast food patrons interact with social media and it’s a totally different animal. Luxury and high-end dining is never transactional. It is as much about the experience – how you’re treated when you walk in the door, what surprises are in store, how you feel when you leave – as the actual food on the meticulously artistic plate. Fast food is transactional in the purest sense of the word. Here is money. Here is your food. Now throw out your trash on the way out the door.

So it’s interesting to see the way a transactional experience can actually create more opportunities via social media to improve customer engagement.

Panera Bread, for example, is using Pinterest to connect with the emotional side of their brand, along with the food. Boards are titled “Create Smiles” and “Live Each Moment” as well as “Have Breakfast Together” to tie in both the emotional expectations of the brand with the actual food served.

Iconic McDonald’s uses Facebook to promote products, but also to truly interact with fans. A recent status update: The MONOPOLY at McDonald’s prize I’d do the biggest victory dance for is _______. (143 responses and counting.)


Many small businesses struggle with how to use social media for their businesses. But these examples show that while your in-store experience might be mostly transactional, your social media presence shouldn’t be. How can you amp up the emotional connections on social media?

Photo credit: A Life In Balance

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