How Subway uses social media for attracting and engaging customers.
Subway's social media marketing strategy
Subway is the largest fast-food brand in the world based upon the number of stores worldwide. There are more Subway restaurants around the world than any other fast-food brand. Subway has opened more than 40,000 restaurants across the globe in more than 100 countries. Its largest market is the United States where Subway has 23,867 restaurant stores operational as of 2019. Canada is Subway’s second-largest market with more than 3,000 restaurants. Subway is a privately held brand which was founded in 1969. The first Subway restaurant opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Since then the brand has grown into the world’s largest while operated entirely by franchisees. Subway’s business model is very unique in this regard and while the company does not own any Subway restaurant, more than 21,000 franchisees operate all the Subway restaurants across the world.
Today, it is the world’s largest submarine sandwich restaurant chain. It is famous for its good quality and nutritious food. However, the company also uses digital technology for marketing and online sales in the markets where it operates. Social media is also an important marketing channel for Subway which the company uses to reach its customers around the world, promote new products and engage existing customers. Social media has become the favorite marketing channel of fast food brands due to its reach and efficiency and not just Subway but all its leading competitors use Facebook and Twitter to engage their customers and for customer service as well as addressing complaints. Social media plays a significant role in Subway’s marketing strategy like the other large and global fast-food brands including McDonald's and Burger King.
Facebook is the leading social media platform with more than 2 billion active users. It is the most favorite platform for fast food brands for marketing and customer engagement. All the leading QSR brands use Facebook for the promotion of their products and to engage their customers. The number of followers in Subway’s Facebook account is around 24 million which signifies a strong reputation and brand image. However, compared to the other leading brands in the QSR industry like McDonald’s or KFC, this is still low. KFC has around 54 million and McDonald’s 79 million followers on Facebook alone. Subway does not use its social media accounts too aggressively either for promotions or engagement. Its social media activity on Facebook is generally limited to a few posts per week.
However, while the main focus of its Facebook strategy is promotions and customer engagement, the company also uses its Facebook account for customer service. The level of engagement that Subway has achieved through its social media account is also impressive. Reps respond regularly to the customer complaints and compliments which shows there is an active social media team monitoring communication and replies when necessary. While on the one hand, it drives higher customer engagement, it is also effective at driving higher customer loyalty. Hundreds of comments on most of the posts show that the company has been successful at engaging its customers and loyal fans. While most brands use social media mainly for promotions, using it as a direct communication channel has some obvious benefits. Facebook can also serve as a customer service channel and can drive stronger customer connection if customer reps use it to manage customer relations.
Twitter is also a popular social media platform used extensively by businesses for marketing and customer engagement. It is highly suited for real-time marketing and running seasonal campaigns. The largest fast-food brands attend to the social media signals and customer feedback and Twitter is often a great platform for collecting feedback from customers. It has been proved in the case of other leading QSR brands too including McDonald’s and Chick-fil-a. Often these brands engage directly with their customers on Twitter through their customer service and social media representatives. However, listening to your customers and fans and engaging them directly on Twitter also proves that you care. Overall, while social media and social media analytics have a special significance for fast food brands, Twitter’s influence in this area is tremendous. Whether just Tweeting or running paid ads, brands must focus on twitter analytics to generate the best results from their marketing campaigns.
Subway has achieved impressive customer engagement on Twitter. It has around 2.4 million Twitter followers. However, rather than using the platform aggressively for promotions, its Twitter activity is generally limited to one tweet a day. Subway has sent overall 87.2K tweets till now. Its tweets are mainly promotional but the company also runs surveys from time to time to receive feedback from customers and to engage them. Promotional materials include images, videos, and GIFs. Twitter is a great platform for video marketing as well and mobile-optimized videos help fast-food brands like Subway achieve impressive results.
Instagram is another fantastic platform for fast food brands trying to promote their products online. Posts on Instagram are visually engaging and most fast food brands use Instagram to mainly make their customers’ minds drool. Insta also boasts of a large visitor base of higher than one billion. Like Facebook is most suited to creating brand awareness, Insta is most suited for product launches. It is also known to drive high ROI (Return on Investment) like the first two. Moreover, Instagram is touted to drive much higher engagement compared to Facebook despite its smaller audience.
Subway has around 1.2 million followers on Instagram and its account is filled with images and videos of mouth-watering sandwiches. The features on Instagram drive engagement as well as interaction. Thousands of likes and a large number of responses to each post shows a high level of engagement. Instagram has helped several fast-food brands including big and small achieve their marketing goals and reach a large audience. Apart from growing recognition, QSR companies use it to improve customer loyalty through their marketing efforts.
YouTube is mainly a video sharing platform but boasts of the largest audience on social media. Its video sharing features make it highly suitable for marketing and promotions. Several of the QSR and food brands including Starbucks use video marketing aggressively for promotions and customer engagement. However, it seems video marketing is not an integral part of Subway’s social media marketing strategy. It has posted only 55 videos in its official account. During the previous three months, it has uploaded only 10 videos to its social media account. Its level of customer engagement on YouTube is also low. Apart from one video which received 2.3 million views, most have received less than 20K views.