Why Burger King Is not the King of Instagram

Burger King holds a very special place in my heart. It is my dad’s favorite fast food restaurant and we used to stop there on our way home from softball tournaments in the summer. He loved nothing more than sitting down with a Whopper, fries, and an ice-cold Coca-Cola after a day out on the softball field.  

Their social media use is also quite fascinating. The brand’s ability to switch voices between social media platforms to try to appeal to different target audiences is enticing. On Twitter, they tend to be more relatable and humorous, while on Instagram and Facebook, their posts seem much more like advertisements.

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

Burger King came to mind pretty quickly when I had to choose a brand to audit on social media for my Strategic Social Media course. Their different voices across platforms and my own personal nostalgic attachments lead to the choosing Burger King, but it was actually some of their worst practices that inspired the topic of this first post. Below, I have outlined a few ways Burger King’s Instagram strategy is lacking.

Little Engagement

Sprout Social’s 5 Social Media Best Practices Every Marketer Must Follow emphasizes the importance of engaging with your audience. They say that engaging and sending a real response actually humanizes your brand. On Twitter, Burger King is very engaged with their followers. They reply to a number of tweets each day, outside of the usual customer service complaint tweet. They joke with their audience and send a real response—not an automatic reply. On Instagram however, they rarely engage with their followers. They do engage with one or two users every once in a while, but it seems that very little effort is put into their Instagram engagement. A number of their replies are nothing more than an emoji, or a one-word answer. It seems that they are not taking the time to craft a thoughtful response.

Ghosted by the King

Posting at the right time is key to boosting engagement. Sprout Social’s Best Time to Post on Social Media in 2019 tells users that the best time to post on Instagram is Tuesday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. These are the best times to post as they provide the most consistent engagement.  Burger King tends to post within that recommended time frame. A majority of their Instagram posts are between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, that is the extent of their consistency on the app.

Social Insider’s 12 Steps To Boost Instagram Engagement credits maintaining a schedule to brand success. This is something Burger King fails to do. The brand was completely silent on social media for almost an entire month from December 5, 2019 to January 3, 2020. One would imagine that the holiday season would be a busy time for a brand on social media, but Burger King decided it was the right time for an Instagram holiday. My advice to the king of the Whopper—create a posting schedule.


When posting on Instagram, the caption is just as important as the actual visual you post. Sprout Social’s Best Instagram Caption Ideas for Engagement offers up advice to their readers on the topic. They discuss how hashtags can boost engagement- a lesson that Burger King has not learned. A quick glance at their Instagram page shows that October 2019 was the last time the brand used a hashtag.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Branded hashtags are a powerful tool when it comes to product launches, promotions, contests, and sponsored events. A lot of Burger King’s posts are promotional as they advertise a deal or a new product, yet they do not include a hashtag. One of their posts was an advertisement for their 2 for 6 deal on the Impossible Whopper that had a caption like “come and try out our burger.” If  they included a hashtag, more users would have found and therefore engaged with their post and (hopefully) their business.

What Can We Learn from America’s Royal Family?  

Burger King’s Instagram game is not the strongest, but their worst (and best) practices can teach us numerous lessons about posting and engagement. Not engaging with their followers or forgetting to hashtag likely is not hurting the brand that much, but that is an anomaly. Burger King is such a well-known and established brand that these worst practices probably do not affect them too much. Smaller and less established brands can learn three best practices from Burger King’s worst Instagram practices.  

Consistency is key. In order to be a successful brand on social media, you need to be consistent—especially when it comes to the day/time your brand posts. While Burger King is fairly consistent in time, they often go silent for weeks at a time, making it difficult to boost engagement. Create a posting schedule to be more consistent on Instagram!

Engage with your followers. Burger King is making their way towards being a thoughtful and engaging brand on social media. They are making the effort to respond to a follower here and there, but they can improve greatly. Sprout Social’s 5 Social Media Best Practices Every Marketer Must Follow warns readers on the effects of not responding. If you don’t respond, you lose money. Nearly 30% of social media users go to a competitor if you ignore their message. You don’t want to be losing money just because you did not take two seconds to reply to a follower.

Create a community. Using hashtags allows your followers to be a part of a community. Additionally, Social Insider’s 12 Steps To Boost Instagram Engagement tells readers that using branded hashtags will allow more users to find your posts, which could lead to more followers and overall more engagement on your page.

Your Turn

What do you think? Am I grilling America’s king too much? Let me know in the comments below.  

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