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Home » News, Social Media News

Subway overtakes McDonald’s on Main Street as gripes mount on Facebook

Submitted by on March 8, 2011 – 8:51 am3 Comments

Walk down the street of most any city or big town in the world and you’re likely to see a Subway sandwich shop. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports the fast-food chain is now more ubiquitous than the golden arches of McDonald’s. Mickey D’s is still champ in revenues, and it’s no contest online either.

The Subway growth story is an impressive one. Founded in Bridgeport, Connecticut in the mid 1960s (the McDonald’s Corp. was ten years old by then), Subway is now the fastest growing fast-food chain in the world with 33,749 restaurants worldwide, about 1,000 more shops than McDonald’s. Clearly, the privately-held Subway chain is still focused on break-neck growth:

“We’re continually looking at just about any opportunity for someone to buy a sandwich, wherever that might be. The closer we can get to the customer, the better,” Don Fertman, Subway’s Chief Development Officer tells the WSJ, explaining that it now has almost 8,000 Subways in unusual locations. “The non-traditional is becoming traditional.”

Naturally, we figured this would be as good a time as any to assess their expansion online. The raw numbers are pretty promising, though it still trails McDonald’s, as per the Socialbakers U.S. brands breakdown where the latter reigns in at Number 1 and Subway at Number 6 (the Number 4 spot is also Subway, but is not the official brand fanpage):

The growth rate is more or less equal so there’s no chance Subway will catch McDonald’s any time soon in terms of online fan loyalty. And the tone on its Facebook Wall would make you wonder if they’ll ever close the gap. Amid the sprinkling of congrats on beating McDonald’s posts there are gripes about the quality of the product, which some nostalgic fans feel has gone down hill recently. A casualty of aggressive expansion?

There’s also very little community feel to speak of here. The Subway team manning the Facebook page sends out a weekly message that repeats more or less what’s on the menu or is parroted in the TV ads. What’s social about that?

McDonald’s need not fear the Subway expansion train.

Correction: Previously, we reported the offical Subway fanpage was the Number 4 spot in the ranking above. That is not so. The Number 4 spot is an unofficial Subway page that appears to have been started by a franchisee long before the official fanpage was created.


  • Katie Taylor says:

    Just a little curious – Subway appears twice on the list and if the two figures are added together the total beats McDonald’s. Which of the Subways is the restaurant chain and what is the other one?

  • Katie, good catch. Just one of the two Subway fanpages listed in the top 10 is the official one, sanctioned by the brand. Socialbakers designate that one as the Number 4 ranking. But it’s clear that Number 4 belongs to a franchisee and is not the official page. Number 6 is the official page…. Now, to your other point: we’ve excluded the myriad unofficial fan pages for both brands and have stuck simply with the official brand pages to simplify things. Hope that clarifies things.

  • [...] we reported a few months back that Subway – despite its growth in brand perception – was still lacking on [...]

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