A lot of big-name companies are already using social media to their full advantage, and a new report found that many restaurants are doing the same.

The Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) recently unveiled its Restaurant Social Media Index for 2012, showcasing the top 100 companies that have a strong presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The index is meant to help less-savvy restaurants learn how to use social media, digital content, and overall brand development more effectively by pointing out companies that are already doing a great job.

In order to come up with the index, NRN looked at more than 600 restaurants and 23 million consumers. Each restaurant is graded on its social presence and engagement on Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, and YouTube, among others. The company also looked at Klout, DigitalCoCo Social Insights, and Sentiment Analytics.

The top 10 restaurants on the social media index are:

  1. Starbucks: 245.17
  2. Wendy’s: 212.77
  3. Red Mango: 208.89
  4. McDonald’s: 198.42
  5. Chick-fil-A: 191.91
  6. Panera Bread: 190.62
  7. Chipotle Mexican Grill: 188.96
  8. Taco Bell: 184.11
  9. Subway: 179.58
  10. Firehouse Subs: 179

Starbucks, the company listed as being most social media savvy, has a unique way of interacting with its consumers and has developed a huge following, with over 31 million likes on Facebook alone. Starbucks knows its brand well and has found a way to engage people in a different way every day – whether they are advertising daily specials, posting pictures of the newest coffee release, or holding contests to see which city will receive new drinks before everyone else.

All of these companies already know the importance of building a strong brand and engaging with customers, something they already do in real life and have continued to do on social media sites.

Scottsdale-based Hungry Thumb highlights much information related to restaurant social media on their blog, and QSRweb.com and Foodservice Social Media Universe, whose foodservice social media conference I attended last year (It was awesome! Go this year if you can!), just unveiled this great Restaurant Social Media Top 10 Infographic

Restaurant Social Media Top 10 [Infographic]

Do any of these brands surprise you?