By The Numbers: Is Portillo's The Biggest Restaurant Opening Ever? | WGLT

By The Numbers: Is Portillo's The Biggest Restaurant Opening Ever?

Aug 14, 2017

It’s time for a serious, data-driven look at hot dogs and chocolate cake shakes.

The new Portillo’s opening Tuesday in Normal is widely considered one of the most—or the most—anticipated restaurants openings in this community’s history. (Sorry, Chick-fil-A.)

So what can the level of social media chatter about the new Portillo’s tell us about how big a deal this is locally? To help answer that question, we sat down with Nate Carpenter, director of convergent media at Illinois State University’s School of Communication. He leads the school’s Social Media Analytics Command Center (SMACC), where he teaches students how to analyze social media data and trends.

1. It’s Insanely Popular. Even by Portillo’s Standards

The Facebook post on the official Portillo’s page about the new Normal location ranks among the company’s Top 10 most popular posts of all time. It generated around 7,400 shares, 2,200 comments, and 10,100 reactions since being posted in April 2016.

The only other “new location” announcement that was more popular was for the new Portillo’s in Tampa.

The Normal announcement topped a similar announcement for the Champaign-Urbana location, which has already opened. That post ranks No. 41 on the Portillo’s page, vs. No. 10 for Normal.

“The comparison is pretty stark,” Carpenter said.

2. Normal Excitement > Champaign Excitement

They may have the bigger state university, but we’ve apparently got the bigger Portillo’s buzz.

A tweet about the Portillo’s groundbreaking in Normal received the most retweets (514) and favorites (1,019) of any tweet from the company’s flagship account.

What was the second-most popular tweet? The one about the groundbreaking in Champaign, which generated 217 retweets and 657 favorites.

For some perspective, Portillo’s Twitter account receives an average of 4 retweets and 7 favorites per post.

3. College Students Are Really, Very, Super Excited

Students at Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities are the big drivers in Bloomington-Normal’s social media community, particularly on Twitter and Instagram.

To that end, ISU’s Social Media Analytics Command Center has spotted more than 1,300 tweets originating or retweeted from Bloomington-Normal Twitter accounts discussing Portillo’s since the Oak Brook-based chain announced it was opening a Twin City restaurant.

Since the announcement, Bloomington-Normal tweets about Portillo’s potentially reached 772,660 other Twitter users and were retweeted to a potential audience of 533,732 other Twitter users. We don’t know yet whether Bloomington-Normal will benefit from having a Portillo’s.

We do know that Portillo’s is benefitting from the attention.

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