Popular quick-serve restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has something to cluck about on Facebook this week: it just joined Tiger Woods in the 1 million Facebook fans club, becoming the first restaurant to hit that mark. Chick-fil-A has amassed an almost cult following for its chicken sandwiches, and it’s that same sort of loyal following that has helped its Facebook Fan page hit this milestone.
Chick-fil-A has accomplished this despite a few handicaps compared to other QSR’s (quick-serve restaurants) like pizza delivery chains. One, the franchise does not have national distribution – the highest concentration of Chick-fil-A locations are in the southeastern United States. Second, the nature of the Chick-fil-A business and service is also slightly different, as they do not offer deliveries and only some of their locations offer online ordering. Finally, Chick-fil-A hasn’t done big Facebook promotional campaigns like Papa John’s, who recently jumpstarted its Facebook Page with 200,000 fans through a single engagement ad promotion
Chick-fil-A’s success has a lot to do with their brand loyalty, as well as its light-hearted contests like the current Cow Appreciation Day, which encourages fans to dress like a cow and send in their photos for a chance at prizes. The overall focus of the company has always been creating a superior product, and their Facebook success is a good indicator that building brand loyalty in the real world can translate into popularity in social networks, where future customers can be reached powerfully through viral communication channels.