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How Taco Bell is Killing it with Social Media Marketing

How Taco Bell is Killing it with Social Media Marketing

Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year at 7,000 restaurants across the globe. However, the fast food chain has become known for more than their appetizing selection of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, they’re continuing to prove themselves as leaders in the world of social media marketing.

The Tex-Mex fast food chain has become prominent on every social media platform, creating a unique social media presence that’s unparalleled to its competition. While fast food kingpin, McDonald's, may boast more collective followers, Taco Bell has managed to be levels ahead when it comes to engagement and the brand attention that their social media activity receives.

Making use of every available social media platform is one thing, but Taco Bell has lifted the veil that separates most major companies from their customers by engaging with them in a more personal and fun fashion. So how did Taco Bell manage to sear their name in as the heavyweights of social media marketing? The following three aspects of Taco Bell’s social media marketing strategy show how they’ve managed to outshine their competition and how your company’s strategy can learn from it.

Embracing a brand personality

A quick scroll through Taco Bell’s Instagram page or Twitter feed and it’s clear who they are targeting. The fast food company have defined their youth-based demographic and have found a way to appeal to them through a witty and unapologetically sardonic sense of humor. The company understands that to create a relationship with their audience, they have to channel more human-centered marketing approaches.

Many companies attempt to attract a youthful demographic, but fail because they aren’t able to connect with the audience. The younger generation will naturally always be more savvy when it comes to social media and can easily sniff out inauthenticity. However, Taco Bell managed to find a way to get their demographic to respond, and to do so, they had millennial minds doing the prompting.

“Our method is hiring Millennial-minded individuals because they live and breathe social media,” Nick Tran, the former social media lead at Taco Bell, told CMO. “The digital natives entering the workforce today are passionate about social; by having them dispersed throughout our teams, we are staying on the forefront of trends.”

There’s no denying that this marketing approach is working for the fast food company. Many of Taco Bell’s social media exchanges have managed to go viral, which has resulted in multiple media outlets doing stories on the company’s social media moves and in turn, end up doing a portion of the marketing for them.

Engaging with customers in real time

Anyone who has engaged with a big company through a social media platform knows that a majority of the responses may might as well have come from robots. The lack of personality on social media and flood of product promotions isn’t going to inspire a plethora of customers to hit the follow button. Taco Bell found a way to connect with their audience by engaging with them in real time. It’s a simple yet time consuming strategy, but one that has proven to grow Taco Bell’s social media following.

Getting the message out to there to your demographic is crucial, but so is listening to them, which is something that Taco Bell understands and thrives at. Nick Tran explains this strategy shift by saying, “The Main difference in strategy now vs. before is that what we are doing today in social media is real-time, and we listen and engage all the time.”

By listening and engaging, Taco Bell isn’t just tapping a like button or copying and pasting a blurb, they are responding in a humanistic way that’s laced with enough playfulness that it instantly warrants a share from the recipient. They’ve also embraced a content strategy that goes beyond what Taco Bell creates internally.

How Taco Bell is Killing it with Social Media Marketing

Part of Taco Bell’s content strategy involves influencer marketing where they connect with influencers or other brands that aren’t necessarily associated with the brand but have amassed sizable fan bases on their own merit. The fast food company found a way to benefit fans of their brand while promoting their products. One way the company has accomplished this is by sending influencers their products prior to the official release.

Another way Taco Bell has managed to get their brand out there is by infiltrating trends in an organic way. The company has managed to have multiple tweets go viral by jumping on existing hashtags and trends that are prominent in the moment. To give an example, when “#10ThingsIGetAlot” was trending, Taco Bell tweeted “Do you sell bells?” alongside the hashtag. The tweet garnered a significant amount of attention and worked because it was both funny and a tad self depreciative, which further instills a personality behind the brand.

With that in mind, Taco Bell had the brilliant idea of sending hand-written notes and wearable brand-related items to models, actresses, musicians, and other celebrities popular with young people.

Have a look at the ring and letter sent to actress and model Chrissy Teigen after she shared a tweet about getting married.

How Taco Bell is Killing it with Social Media Marketing

Taco Bell isn’t afraid to take risks

Every company wants to reach a sense of virality with their social media strategy, but very few are willing to step outside the safe zone quite like Taco Bell is. Not only does the team behind the Tex Mex fast food chain take risks with their posts, they also post where most marketers are known to fail. For example, the Reddit community is quick to shut down anyone trying to market to them, but Taco Bell has managed to infiltrate unscathed.

One of Taco Bell’s most successful social media campaigns was for their new mobile ordering app. Instead of taking the regular approach of the occasional promotional post to pique the interest of their followers, Taco Bell gave them no choice. The company basically blacked out all of their social media accounts and left only one phrase to promote the app. In just 24 hours after launching this campaign, Taco Bell’s app secured itself in one of the most downloaded in Apple’s “food and drink” category. Not only did the company not risk their promotion getting lost in the rest of their social media activity, it made sure that their followers were the first to know.

Another way Taco Bell made their engagement skyrocket was through the use of emojis. The company realized that there was no taco emoji and started a petition to get one, which worked after they managed to receive over 33,000 signatures. They followed this engagement booster by inventing a ‘Taco Emoji Engine,’ which not only celebrated the taco emoji entering the texting game, it prompted followers to tweet at them for a unique response. In the first five days of introducing the ‘Taco Emoji Engine,’ the company’s official Twitter page received more than half a million direct tweets.

Taco Bell’s social media strategy may benefit from their team’s creative genius, but there’s a lot to learn from the path to success that they’ve paved. Creating a brand personality that strives from being blandly corporate, engaging with customers in real time, and taking creative risks are all steps that can be incorporated into any social media strategy to ensure it excels.


For help with your influencer or event marketing and social media strategy, please reach out to us at info@socialpulsemarketing.com.

Steven Tulman is the CEO of Social Pulse Marketing Inc., a leading influencer marketing agency helping Fortune 500 companies increase brand awareness, improve consumer trust and loyalty, and influence consumer behavior. He is a social media marketing and sales expert, and an entrepreneur with a passion for helping companies grow through effective online marketing strategies, improved sales performance, and overall customer experience.

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