Whether it has been with a talking chihuahua, or jamming Doritos into all parts of Tex-Mex fast food, Taco Bell has taken a thinking outside the box approach to marketing and advertising for years – long before social media was really a thing.
Though, of course, they’d say they’re “thinking outside the bun.”
Taco Bell thrives on the bizarre, the unconventional, and the uncommon. They’re all of these descriptions and more! – Wrapped in a Cool Ranch Doritos shell and smothered in sour cream, salsa and gooey, orange, plastic-y cheese.
While marketing is a subject that is relatively difficult to go too crazy with, on the surface, Taco Bell manages to find a way to go against the grain here as well. While the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report shows that many corporations have low interest in utilizing Snapchat in their marketing at this point, Taco Bell is embracing the platform and using it really effectively.
So everyone these days uses Facebook and Twitter. YouTube and Instagram too. Snapchat is kind of a new beast, and one that seems capable of staying fresh and swinging with the aforementioned social media giants. Yet, as mentioned, most of the companies polled by SocialMediaExaminer.com said they don’t really have any plans to use Snapchat! – 82 percent say they have “no plans to utilize Snapchat” and only 7 percent plan to ramp up their use of it.
This of course makes one wonder whether they’re just not interested in the platform, or if they just don’t understand it.
But anyway, in true Taco Bell fashion…they’re boldly using Snapchat, and are pretty good at it too!
If brands are confused about how to use Snapchat, they really need to look no further than Taco Bell’s account. They keep things relatively simple, while managing to use it effectively.
For example, they use it to reveal new menu items, and promo these reveals on their Twitter feed. So they’re catching the eye of people that already like them, and encouraging them to connect in another one of Taco Bell’s communities – with the payoff of being first to see the new menu item. If you followed them at the time of reveal for the Beefy Crunch Burrito then you’d have it sent right to your phone.
Snapchat also supports video, there are ways to get around their 10 second limit. They took advantage of this for another product launch. I’ll quote Jeff Beer to explain:
“The brand launched its Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos with one of its first Snapchat stories – a six-minute mini-movie that included a scene on the red carpet of the MTV Movie Awards, and was filmed and posted in less than 24 hours.”
“As branded efforts go, it would be tough to come up with a more perfect storm for this audience – Snapchat, Doritos tacos, MTV, and movie stars. Scenes were still being shot as the first scenes were being posted, pushing the boundaries of what brands are able and, more importantly, willing to do on the platform.”
They’re not just aimlessly sending videos and images though. There’s a method in place. Taco Bell has been on Snapchat for about three years now, and they’ve stacked their deck with a bunch of in-house millennials to manage content. They seem to be finding success.
Tanya Dua at Digiday says Taco Bell has seen its best engagement on Snapchat, and they’re now working to “create even deeper connections.” They’ve allowed fans to send personalized Valentine’s Day eCards in the past, and they’re making an effort to do a lot of storytelling.
Digiday spoke with Jozlynn Rush, of Taco Bell.
“On Instagram or Twitter, you only have so much space to say something. You have 140 characters or one photo, but on Snapchat we’re able to collaborate with our fans and tell a deeper story.”
They’ve even done themselves a favour on Snapchat – by recruiting interns based on the videos they sent in via the app.
Lessons for Others
So we know Taco Bell is daring. While other companies are avoiding using Snapchat altogether, the fast food chain has jumped right in. It’s important to be daring – and the amount of people they’ve hired to work on their Snapchat strategy is daring – but it’s just as important to be daring with a plan. They’ve got that covered too.
But also, they understand their audience. They know young people are some of their best customers, and they know young people are most active on Snapchat. Recruiting like-minded fans to work with them is genius.
Taco Bell will always encourage us to “think outside the bun” and clearly they’re taking their own creative advice as well.
Industry: Fast Food
Name of Organization Contact: Jozlynn Rush, Senior Social Media Specialist
Authored by: Brad MacDonald
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Stelzner, Michael, (2015). Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015, Social Media Examiner.