Nando’s, McDonald’s and Domino’s lead the way when it comes to social media engagement in the UK’s eating and drinking-out sector, according to the latest data from eDigitalResearch.

The research, which studied over 90 of the top food and beverage brands including restaurants, fast food chains, coffee shops and pub chains between the 27 April and 1 May 2015, looking at presence (or lack of) on the most influential and popular social media sites, found that McDonald’s, Nando’s and Domino’s appeared within the top five across all benchmarked league tables.

In terms of Facebook, McDonald’s was the world’s biggest brand with some 57.7 million followers, clear of KFC in second with 37.1 million and Pizza Hut (25.2 million) in third.

Next on the list is Nando’s, with 3.3 million followers, followed by Papa John’s on 2.8 million, an increase of 15 places since the benchmarking was last done, highlighting the fact that the brand has grown to c300 sites in the UK.

Costa Coffee (1.3 million), Domino’s (950,000), Gregg’s (720,000) and Toby Carvery (440,000) also appear in the top 10.

The research also found that takeaway brands make up a large proportion of the top twenty in terms of Facebook followers suggesting that social media users are fans of convenience.

McDonald’s topped the league table in terms of new followers with almost 50 million following it in Facebook since its global page merged. Top three performers McDonald’s, Pizza Hutand Papa John’s have all added a significant number of new followers over the past six months suggesting that attracting new followers is easier for those brands who already have a larger follower base.

Wetherspoon, Crown Carveries, Beefeater, Bella Italia and Wagamama also appear in the top 10, while Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Loch Fyne make it into the growth league table for the first time with almost 10,000 new followers each.

On Twitter, Nando’s has 1.5 million followers, nearly double that of second placed Domino’s, on 790,000. Starbucks (590,000), McDonald’s (155,000) and Costa (143,000) complete the top five.

Nando’s have less followers on its Twitter account than its Facebook page. However, activity comparisons across the platform shows that Nando’s is more active on Twitter. Yo! Sushi, Carluccio’s, Wahaca and Honest Burger all made it into the Twitter top twenty for the first time since the benchmarks research list has been expanded.

Pizza Hut has more than tripled their followers on Twitter since the last wave of research. Despite attracting more followers than second place Nando’s, Domino’s still remains in second place overall. Ed’s Easy Diner has jumped into eighth place with nearly 40 times more followers than in the previous wave, however they still fail to make it into the overall league table.

On Google+, Starbucks is the clear leader with 3.7 million followers, with Nando’s second on 165,000 - though relative to Facebook and Twitter, the platform is not yet well established. Byron is ranked at number five, but fails to appear in any of the other league tables.

The study found that in comparison with its 2014 benchmark average the number of posts on Facebook during the period actually decreased, suggesting that content is becoming more planned and targeted.

The research also found that almost all top food and beverage brands are currently posting at least once a day or more on Twitter. Giraffe leads the way when it comes to engaging with users and the study found that it posted content regularly on its products and hot topics making the most of current events with related offers and competitions.

Kat Hounsell, sales and marketing director at eDigitalResearch, said: “The use of social media is now paramount for food and beverage brands. Our most recent benchmark results demonstrate that having a creative and interactive social media strategy is key to increasing your brands presence. Given the social nature of the food and beverage market, listening to feedback and creating a connection with your customers on a local and global level is key to increasing your brand following and overall, improving the brand experience.”