Unique Research Method Ranks Fast Food Chains

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Fenton, MI — December 26, 2023

The end of each year brings a bevy of published lists. Top 10s, The Best, The Worst, etc. Here is an interesting twist on popular opinions. Research conducted by restaurant furniture experts Affordable Seating analyzed over 26,331,500 Instagram posts featuring restaurant-specific hashtags for America’s most popular fast-food chains to reveal which are the most Instagram-worthy and which fell flat.

You can probably guess the winner. However, there are a few eyebrow-raising findings.

The Top Five

The results identified McDonald’s as the most Instagrammable fast-food chain. Known for its iconic golden arches and vibrant color scheme, the restaurant appeared in 8.8 million posts.

Coming in second is KFC, with 4.2 million posts. Well-known for its red and white branding, the restaurants are immediately recognizable, largely thanks to the prominent artwork of Colonel Sanders featured in each restaurant.

The third most popular chain is Burger King with a total of 2.2 million Instagram posts. Burger King typically provides booths and tables that are designed for comfort and convenience, and they’re known for their flaming grill, often featuring images of flames.

In fourth place is Pizza Hut, with the restaurant also appearing in 2.2 million posts. Their lighting is usually well-distributed around the restaurant, creating a warm atmosphere for customers – and flattering lighting for pictures – as well as comfortable booths.

Chipotle comes in fifth place with 1.7 million posts. The color palette typically includes neutral tones, such as earthy browns, gray, and white, which contributes to their calm and relaxing environment. They also frequently incorporate natural materials such as wood and stone to create warmth and texture – both of which make an aesthetic neutral background for social media snaps.

The Remainder of the List

Sixth place is taken by Taco Bell, with 1.5 million posts. The chain often uses bold and playful colors such as purple, pink, and yellow to create a fun and energetic atmosphere, while the decor incorporates a modern feel via sleek furniture and industrial finishes.

Chick-fil-A is named seventh with 1.4 million posts. The décor is crafted to promote a welcoming vibe, as they use a mix of booths and tables to accommodate individuals or groups of large sizes.

Eighth place goes to In-N-Out Burger appearing in 1.1 million posts on Instagram. In-n-Out embraces a vintage and retro aesthetic, giving the restaurant a timeless and classic feel – this contributes to a nostalgic atmosphere that customers love to share online. Their seating features classic diner-style booths to provide a comfortable dining experience, and that also works as the ideal backdrop for a group selfie or a family photo.

In ninth place is Chuck E. Cheese, with just 764k hashtags. They’ve adopted a playful theme throughout their interior to convey a kid-friendly atmosphere. As their focus is on families, the seating includes cozy booths, while children’s artwork adorns the walls.

Tenth place is taken by Five Guys with 645k posts. Five Guys often feature an open kitchen where customers can see the cooking process, emphasizing the freshness of their ingredients – and that also proves popular with foodies online.

Wendy’s takes eleventh with 644k posts. The restaurant embraces a modern interior with an open seating layout, which makes it easy to accommodate large parties or groups.

In twelfth place is Popeyes, with 546k posts. The chain offers a warm color scheme with oranges and reds, which reflects their lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, Wingstop ranks thirteenth with 394 posts, providing a mix of booths and high tables in their restaurants.

The fourteenth spot belongs to Arby’s, with just 158k posts. These restaurants often include artwork that reflects the brand’s focus on roast beef, and their color palette includes shades of brown, tan, and red to further illustrate this focus.

Rounding off the rankings in fifteenth is Subway, which features in 80,500 uploads. The sandwich shop uses warm, earthy tones in its interior design, such as greens, browns, and beige, to create a warm and inviting environment – which clearly translates well in social media snaps.

Observations

Speaking on the findings, Zach Kanoff, SVP of Chain Accounts for Affordable Seating, said: “Analyzing the top fast-food chains through Instagram hashtags offers a valuable glimpse into the relationship between restaurants and social media influence.”

“It’s not surprising that these top chains are popular on Instagram. Social media, especially platforms like Instagram, thrive on visually appealing content, and these restaurants often invest in creating eye-catching dishes and aesthetically pleasing dining experiences.”

Rank Restaurant #’s on Instagram
1 McDonald’s 8,800,000
2   KFC 4,200,000
3   Burger King 2,200,000
4   Pizza Hut 2,200,000
5   Chipotle 1,700,000
6   Taco Bell 1,500,000
7   Chick-Fil-A 1,400,000
8   In-N-Out Burger 1,100,000
9   Chuck-E-Cheese 764,000
10   Five Guys 645,000
11   Wendy’s 644,000
12   Popeyes 546,000
13   Wing Stop 394,000
14   Arby’s 158,000
15 Subway 80,500