Taco Bell is one of the most popular fast food chains in the USA. Some of that popularity comes in part due to their lovable presence on social media. See how the brand cultivated that image and created an engaged online fandom in this social media case study.
What Taco Bell does on social media
Much of Taco Bell’s social media content directly promotes the various items in its menus. Granted, they will do it in their unique and interesting way. They will also feature customers in posts as a way to do a little influencer marketing.
Beyond the traditional marketing content, Taco Bell is well-known for posting seemingly random content. Case in point:
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 9, 2017
The two posts spelling out Taco Bell’s name using taco emojis for Taco, and bell emojis for Bell, generated more than 21,000 retweets in total between them. 21,000 retweets from two tweets that were completely pointless. This all comes from Taco Bell branding themselves as someone who would share this type of content, and cultivating a group of fans who want this type of content. Your account will also have to build up to this. It can be off-putting if you completely change your tone all of a sudden.
The brand’s unique mix of straightforward promotional content and amusing non-promotional posts has helped it attract a huge following on social media.
This impressive collection of fans has made Taco Bell one of the most recognizable brands on social media.
How Taco Bell won fans on Twitter
Social media case studies often cite Taco Bell’s Twitter account as an excellent example of how to present brand content to an audience. While much of the fast food chain’s tweets are promotional in nature, it keeps these product promotions lighthearted, as seen in this one.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 16, 2017
The upbeat tone of its tweets helped make them more accessible to their audience, allowing for better product recall.
Taco Bell continues that lighthearted tone when tweeting about its customers.
Cameron, you’re our taco hero. 🙌 https://t.co/dMWoXJ2YxG
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) October 26, 2017
It throws in its own witty commentary to add a little spice to the content.
Humor as a marketing weapon
Everyone who has ever followed Taco Bell knows that they are a bunch of jokesters. They even keep things funny when speaking with customers. Aside from snappy jokes, Taco Bell throws in a lot of hilarious images in response to comments.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 28, 2017
The brand also engages in banter with other companies, resulting in a lot of hilarious exchanges, like this gem with deodorant manufacturer Old Spice.
@OldSpice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 9, 2012
Taco Bell’s comedic exploits helped it earn the distinction of being one of the funniest brands on Twitter, endearing itself to its fans more. Their fans just love them for it!
Creating unique opportunities for promotions
Beyond its wisecracking image, Taco Bell is well-known for pulling off some outrageous promotional stunts. In 2015, the Mexican food chain spearheaded a campaign to lobby for the creation of a taco emoji.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) January 28, 2015
Its audacious petition succeeded when the Unicode Consortium added a taco emoji to the official Unicode roster. Taco Bell celebrated with a Twitter hashtag campaign.They had Twitter users @mention them using the emoji. Those who did so received a funny GIF created for the event.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 11, 2015
The brand’s initial campaign proved so successful it is still running.
Building support for outrageous campaigns like this one is not easy. However, brands can use tools like our Twitter Retweets service to give their campaigns an initial push. This will help spark public curiosity, and eventually attract the support needed for a sustainable campaign.
Why Taco Bell is a hit on Instagram
Like its Twitter account, Taco Bell mainly uses its Instagram page to directly promote new food in its menu. They were one of the first restaurant brands to advertise on Instagram. During its initial foray, Taco Bell reported a 29% increase in the recall of its products and brand.
To make its product promotions more interesting, the brand creates a unique set of images and videos for the platform.
These pieces of content showcase not just its menu items, but also its emphasis on creativity and art. This follows the same fun-loving persona that it has established on other platforms. Watch any social channel of theirs and you’ll see that they want to showcase the unique content created by in-house and partner artists, as well as followers.
Turning customers into advertisers
Their Instagram content strategy is ultimately aimed towards building a “cult of Taco Bell.” By making its page more than just a place to promote its burritos and tacos, Taco Bell hopes to establish a more intimate connection with its customers. The brand wants to encourage its followers to share the content it has created to draw more people to its pages through friendship.
Taco Bell also takes a more direct approach to this goal by turning its customers into advertisers. To promote its Naked Chicken Chalupa meal, the company gave away samples along with items like lights and props. It then encouraged recipients to take pics of the meal and post it on Instagram.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?! In @TacoBell's case, first came the #NakedChickenChalupa and then the #NakedEggTaco!!! This new item will be available 8/31 nationwide! I loved the new fried egg "shell." Definitely takes the breakfast taco to another level! Thanks @FoodBeast for another great event! 🙌🏽 #breakfasttaco #tacobell #tacos #foodbeast #friedegg #sundayfunday #adaateit
The brand takes advantage of its Instagram followers’ reach to give its products more mileage.
Collaborating with other brands
Taco Bell also collaborates with other brands in some odd ways. In October, they joined forces with fashion company Forever 21 to launch a limited edition line of taco-themed clothing and apparel.
Taco Bell encouraged customers to submit design ideas using the hashtag #F21xTacoBell. The seemingly outlandish collaboration proved successful, with the apparel being sold out on the first day. Meanwhile, the strategy helped create plenty of engagements for Taco Bell on Instagram.
Why Taco Bell is liked a lot on Facebook
With more than 10.5 million likes, Facebook represents Taco Bell’s largest social media presence. The platform also serves as the main channel for its video marketing campaigns, generating around 92% of the views that it receives. One of the brand’s most popular uploads was an ad for its Breakfast Crunchwrap.
The 15-second clip has been viewed more than 48 million times since its release.
Taco Bell maintains a high level of engagement on Facebook by applying the same witty persona that it uses in its other social media pages. Besides its usual repertoire of funny posts, the brand frequently responds to the comments on its page in a candid manner. This has helped them more effectively connect with Facebook users.
Creating event-specific campaigns
Taco Bell takes this idea of creating campaigns related to national events up a notch by finding unique ways of tying these events back to its brand. In celebration of the MLB World Series the brand had a “Steal a base, Steal a Taco” promo. They gave away free tacos whenever a player stole a base during a game. They even created a Facebook event for it.
And you know for sure that they are one of the driving forces behind National Taco Day. They don’t own it, but it generates a lot of relevant engagement around its products. The brand takes advantage of that opportunity by creating promos themed around the event.
Doing risky campaigns
As this social media case study noted earlier, Taco Bell is well-known for doing outrageous promotional campaigns. One of the craziest stunts that it pulled off was its “Blackout Campaign” in 2016. The brand temporarily deactivated its social media channels, including Facebook, to drive traffic to its newly-released app. All that was left on these channels was a single post with the link to download the app.
The campaign was a big gamble since it meant cutting off the engagements that Taco Bell’s fans came to expect from them on social media. Fortunately, it was successful with the app being downloaded more than 300,000 times just two days after the launch. It also positively impacted sales, with 75% of branches processing mobile orders.
What you can learn from Taco Bell’s social media presence
The biggest lesson that Taco Bell can teach marketers is the importance of having a distinct brand identity. The brand knows exactly how it wants to be perceived on social media and this shows clearly in the tone and style of its posts. This has helped it stand out as one of the most distinctive brands on social media.
- Leveraging humor: Social media marketing is a serious business, but that doesn’t mean that your brand can’t be fun. Taco Bell’s success is a testament to how humor can help build a following. Showing your brand’s more lighthearted side will make you more relatable.
- Real-time engagement: Responding to customer social media comments immediately is essential for providing an effective service. Taco Bell takes this further by using such responses to engage in casual conversations with its audience. This has helped the brand establish a good rapport with them.
- User-generated content: Letting customers freely express support for your brand is an effective way of building loyalty and solidifying your fandom. Taco Bell does this by encouraging its audience to create their own content around its brand.
If you can’t learn anything from them, at the very least you can have a laugh along with them. You may even say that this is the entire point of their social media campaign…
Dating is cool, but have you heard of @TacoBell?
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) October 7, 2013
Be a fun brand like Taco Bell and win at social media
Taco Bell has established itself as one of the most fun-loving brands on social media. While your kind of fun might be different from it, you can follow in the brand’s footsteps to become a well-loved figure online. Use this social media case study as a guide in building yourself into a brand as lovable as Taco Bell.