Let’s “Taco ‘bout” Taco Bell’s Success with Twitter

07.03.2017 | Hattie Schafhausen

Since its 2013 social media crisis, when a photo of an employee licking a stack of taco shells surfaced online, Taco Bell has risen to be an exemplary – and often hilarious – model of a business that uses social media for customer engagement and that shows off its brand personality while doing so.

What did the Taco Bell social media managers do to achieve this success? The answer is almost too simple: They react on social media as if they were actually human – go figure! Unlike other businesses who respond like robots with automated responses, Taco Bell fosters authentic conversations between the brand and its customers.

With its engaging, conversational and personal approach to twitter, Taco Bell generates opportunities for consumers to build a connection with the brand. These opportunities, often found in the form of taco-related puns or memes, are usually “retweet”-worthy, leading to exponential exposure of the brand.

So what exactly are Taco Bell’s social media managers’ main tactics?

 

1. They encourage user-generated content.

 

Taco Bell has proven it values the content its customers produce. Lately, there has been an influx in students taking their senior photos at Taco Bell – so much so that Taco Bell has a portion of their website dedicated to celebrating them. Instead of posting pictures of highly stylized tacos with studio-perfect lighting, Taco Bell welcomes all (appropriate) photos taken by their customers. In the case of the tweet above, the simple act of retweeting silly senior photos not only generates positive PR by creating more exposure, it also gives recognition to whoever tweeted the photos and therefore inspires other users to engage with the brand in the same way.

 

2. They target opinion leaders and influences (such as celebrities):

 

Instead of spending money on sponsored posts that many users ignore, Taco Bell has been known to send unique gifts with authentic, handwritten notes to its influential fans with strong social media presence. For example, Acacia Brinley Clark’s Twitter post about the custom Taco Bell ring she received went out to 749K followers – hitting a larger and more engaged audience than a blanket sponsored post likely could.

 

3. They respond to – just about – everything:

 

A tweet from heavy hitters like Michael Jordon obviously deserves a response, but what about all of the other “little people” out there in social media land like you and me? Taco Bell doesn’t discriminate. Timely and frequent responses to its customers’ tweets signal that Taco Bell prioritizes making their fans feel valued and important. Have you ever gone to a concert and afterward felt like you knew the artist personally? Taco Bell’s social media responses create the same effect. This personal connection may impact sales, but most importantly it fosters a positive interaction with the brand, something all marketers dream of.

 

4. They are innovative in new ways for user engagement:

 

The notion that “if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward” unquestionably applies to social media. Taco Bell succeeds in moving forward by creating unconventional ways to engage its online followers. For example, the #TacoEmojiEngine encourages users to tweet at Taco Bell with a taco emoji and an emoji of their choosing. Taco Bell then creates a meme, GIF or other photo mashup, almost instantaneously, to tweet back. The new emoji content generated by Taco Bell will likely be retweeted multiple times, expanding the reach and encouraging customer interaction with the brand.

 

It should be evident that a strong social media presence relies heavily on the ways in which consumers engage with brands. A surefire way to create personal connections and positive engagement is simply to be human. Consumers today value authenticity, and a business that can let their true personality shine on social media is a business that will be successful.


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