Panera Bread: The Biggest Brand in Micro-Influence

For three years running Social Studies has sourced ~800 influencers across a multitude of archetypes ranging from families, registered dietitians, nurses, students and urban millennials. Brand ambassadors demonstrated authentic affiliation through thousands of social-first assets making Panera the #1 QSR brand in influencer marketing (online + off) in 2020.

In 2019 alone, Panera and Social Studies have: 

  • Activated 26 campaigns
  • Worked with 461 micro-influencers
  • Created 1,388 social posts that have been repurposed across the brand’s owned and operated channels
  • Generated 13MM impressions

Social Studies has used its proprietary expertise to redefine influencer marketing. Using an “always on” 360 strategic approach and moving away from standalone campaigns has allowed for a carefully crafted and seamless partnership with Panera. By finding, activating, and managing a diverse group of micro-influencers nationwide to create large scale content on a consistent basis, we have effectively executed premium launches like “Panera Delivers” ( a contactless COVID19 initiative) and spread awareness around important cultural tentpoles like “Friendsgiving”. We have done everything from assisting new menu launches and creating custom Instagram filters to finding the right talent to help reframe Panera’s sensibility to college students as a go-to destination for finals studying. 

  • Panera micro-influencer content achieved an average engagement rate of 4.85% (3x industry average) 
  • 88% of programs over-performed the industry averages

Over the course of the partnership, Social Studies has identified, sourced, benchmarked, briefed, and activated more than a dozen highly engaged niche social media communities for everything from national programs, local market testing, influencer dinners, and surprise and delight moments.

Community Examples:

In 2019 Alone:

  • Panera micro-influencer content achieved an average engagement rate of 4.85% (3x industry average) 
  • 88% of programs over-performed the industry average 
  • 84% of programs over-performed the dining category average

March 2020:

Most recently, in March 2020 Panera Bread and Social Studies partnered to generate awareness for Panera’s new unlimited hot & iced coffee and tea subscription and garner signups on their micro-site. Because the subscription is a game changer for the casual dining industry, and the brand’s biggest launch to date, Social Studies activated influencers across cities and platforms to promote the $8.99 per month service. Together we sourced 40 diverse influencers across the Coffee Enthusiast, Student,  Commuter, Entrepreneur and Parent archetypes to build anticipation leading up to the coffee launch and consideration as it went live. This program was supported entirely by PR & influencers, with no other paid media to generate buzz. In addition to the posts that went live prior and during the launch, we activated a #CoffeeAR experience with a virtual coffee and breakfast on Instagram, and #AfterMyCoffee challenge on TikTok to capitalize on audiences across platforms. In all, the campaign was a huge success for Panera, garnering: 

  • Over 7 billion views across TikTok and Instagram
  • 8x higher engagement than the casual dining experience industry benchmark,
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