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Top brands on Twitter

Starbucks @Starbucks | 2,001,235 followers 
It’s no surprise that Starbucks remains the social media rock star of the foodservice world. The strategies followed by Starbucks are rooted in the basics of engagement. It also doesn’t hurt that they were early adopters of Twitter and have the advantage of a vast base of ever-growing followers. One popular strategy of theirs: “My Starbucks Idea.” Both a separate Twitter feed (@MyStarbucksIdea) and website portal (http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/) support this medium for crowdsourcing ideas, displaying which ideas are popular and why to their customers worldwide.

The coffee powerhouse went one step further in January 2012 when their @Starbucks Twitter followers leapt past the 2 million mark after the release of their new Blonde Roast coffee. The launch kicked off a brilliant social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter called “The Roast That I Love.” Followers vote on their favorite roasts and the site utilizes the incoming social data to create an infographic of the popularity of the various flavors. You can also “eavesdrop” on the social media chatter via live feeds at the bottom of the page.

Subway @SubwayFreshBuzz | 297,248
The sandwich chain skyrocketed from last year, past McDonald’s, to take the number two spot. Mixed with tweets about new products and LTOs you’ll find the focus continues to lean heavily on promoting and discussing healthy eating. Recently, Subway Trainer Monica Vazquez answered live chat questions on everything from when to eat in relation to a workout, to how to calculate your heart rate zone for cardio workouts. The live chat developed simultaneously over Twitter, using #SubwayFitChat, and Facebook. They also gave away two $25 Subway cards to random participants.

McDonald’s @McDonalds | 305,531
In the past, you could phone your friend Ronald McDonald, but these days McDonald’s has taken their customer interaction to the Internet in a big way. They had some hits and misses in the Twitterverse in the past year, utilizing “promoted tweets” such as the highly successful “McJobs” campaign (with the goal of recruiting 50,000 workers) and the recent #McDStories disaster. (Users were supposed to talk about great times at McDonald’s. They did the opposite.) There’s no denying the success of their fearless efforts as the platform evolves. Big Mac saw well over 200 percent increase in Twitter followers since last year’s count, and nearly twice as many as the next guy.

Taco Bell @TacoBell | 156,437
In a stark contrast to last year, when we gathered the numbers on Taco Bell just as it started countering allegations that its ground meat had more filler than beef, this year an #UnlockTheBox campaign to win the new PlayStation Vita (a handheld game console) before the official retail release was well underway. The announcement of their new breakfast menu also caused quite a stir, generating over one hundred retweets off the first mention. The two announcements, made back-to-back, led to a considerable spike in traffic over a two-day period.

Dunkin’ Donuts @DunkinDonuts | 125,542
Quick to reply to any customer comment, Dunkin’ Donuts “Mothership” has created a playful persona on Twitter renowned for customer service. While bigger marketing campaigns tend to lean more toward its 5+ million Facebook followers, the Twitter page has seen trivia games for $50 gift cards on National Donut Day, a variety of photo sharing hashtags and other relationship-building strategies.

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