Entrepreneurs

The 5 Businesses With the Most Social Media Followers in the Entrepreneur Franchise 500

Which of these household names have the biggest following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

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One of the five factors Entrepreneur considers when ranking its top franchises is brand strength. How many people are already familiar with your company? Will your business’s name alone help potential customers understand exactly what your franchisees offer? Aspects of brand strength include how many years you’ve been in business, how long you’ve been franchising, how big the business is, and yes, how relevant you are on social media.

Ideally, each of these aspects should come together to make your brand a household name, and you’ll see that’s true of each of these most-followed companies. Here are the top five:

1. McDonald’s

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 11
  • Started franchising: 1955
  • Total units: 39,020
  • Initial franchise fee: $1.3 million to $2.3 million

As of our last count, McDonald’s had 80.6 million Facebook likes, 3.6 million Twitter followers and 3.8 million Instagram followers, which adds up to a total following of more than 88 million. In addition to making McDonald’s the most-followed company overall, those numbers are also good for first place on each of the three social media platforms among the companies on this list.

2. KFC

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 25
  • Started franchising: 1952
  • Total units: 24,394
  • Initial franchise fee: $1.4 million to $2.8 million

Much of KFC‘s brand strength is driven by its established position: Not only has KFC been franchising for nearly 70 years, and not only are there more than 24,000 units across the world, but KFC also 55.6 million Facebook likes, 1.4 million Twitter followers and 1.6 million Instagram followers. That’s more than 58.6 million total social media followers. That number might not sound big when you consider that it’s 30 million fewer followers than McDonald’s, but it’s also 23 million more than the No. 3 franchise on this list.

Related: The Top 5 Franchises of 2021 From the Entrepreneur Franchise 500

3. Pizza Hut

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 59
  • Started franchising: 1959
  • Total units: 17,227
  • Initial franchise fee: $367,000 to $2.1 million

At No. 59 on the Franchise 500, Pizza Hut is still a highly ranked franchise despite being the lowest-ranked franchise on this list. Pizza Hut finished third in Facebook likes (32 million), Twitter followers (1.6 million) and Instagram followers (1.8 million), for a social total of 35.4 million. That total is almost double of the fourth-most-followed franchise, which is also the No. 2 business on the Franchise 500.

4. Dunkin’

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 2 (No. 1 in 2020)
  • Started franchising: 1955
  • Total units: 13,125 (+775 in the past three years)
  • Initial franchise fee: $199,700 to $1,688,200

There’s a significant dropoff in total followers between Dunkin’ and Pizza Hut, but Dunkin’ actually finished second among all the brands on this list in Instagram followers, with 1.9 million. However, the donut and beverage company finished a distant fourth in Facebook likes (15.7 million) and fifth in Twitter followers (1.2 million), for a grand total of 18.9 million social media followers.

5. Taco Bell

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list rank: 1 (No. 2 in 2020)
  • Started franchising: 1964
  • Total units: 7,400 (+714 in the past three years)
  • Initial franchise fee: $570,600 to $3,049,100

The top-ranked franchise in the 2021 Entrepreneur Franchise 500 comes in at No. 5 when it comes to total social media following. However, Taco Bell actually finished behind other food franchises like Buffalo Wild Wings and Dairy Queen in Facebook likes, with 9.8 million. The Mexican fast-food chain was able to skip over those companies with its solid Instagram presence (1.4 million, good for fifth) and, more importantly, its large following on Twitter (1.9 million, good for second). 

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