Editor's note: The following information is part of a countdown recap from the inaugural Top 100 Movers and Shakers publication. It was published in the spring of 2012. Some of the information may now be different.
There are 800 million Facebook users, including an estimated 95 percent of your customers (according to a Market Force study). To understand the breadth of social media's reach and power, consider that Pizza Hut has nearly 7.5 million Facebook fans.
Market Force also found that 86 percent of consumers said they had "liked" a restaurant chain in the past 90 days to look for promotions and to get information about events. Almost the same percentage of people said they read a post from a vendor vs. friends. And a third of those reading a vendor post said it influenced where they would choose to do business.
Besides these convincing stats, there are plenty of other benefits to leverage social media. It's free, for one. Also, it allows brands to crowdsource for product/marketing ideas (for example, Streetza), as well as interact and connect with customers like never before.
Restaurants can respond to complaints in real-time, kicking into damage control gear before a disgruntled customer is lost forever. They can also respond to compliments directly, which is an "extra mile" effort that creates loyalty. Consumers not only appreciate this B2C interaction, they now expect it.
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