Taco Bell : Social Media Marketing Example #20

Today I would like to take some time to continue the 26 Social Media Marketing Examples and examine Taco Bell. As a fellow “offbeat” connoisseur and fellow funny man I can definitely relate to Taco Bell and the approach they have taken over the years. Humor has typically been at the forefront of many of their traditional campaigns.

Without much surprise they have transitioned well into the social sphere, although, could use some fine tuning and focus with their social assets.  Below I will highlight some of their efforts.

Taco Bell Facebook Page

Upon loading Taco Bells Facebook page you come across their Photos tab. I am not exactly sure why they set this as their default page, especially considering they have 550,000+ fans. The social proof exhibited from the Wall page is much greater considering it shows how large the pages user base is. The photos tab on the other hand has only 65 user submitted photos.

Typically seen with many branded Facebook pages, there isn’t much focus and Taco Bell’s Facebook page certainly falls in this category. Outside of the videos, photos, and discussion tabs there isn’t a lot going on.  I would really like to see them explore a little more and try and create targeted campaigns around their large Facebook presence.

On top of the main branded Taco Bell Facebook page they look to be building locally targeted facebook pages. As of right now most of them have very little content and only a handful of followers.

All in all the company seems to be doing a descent job corresponding with the user base within the wall and discussion tabs, using it to assist customers when they address problems.

Taco Bell Twitter

Taco Bell has an interesting approach to Twitter as well. They have the typical corporate account located at Taco_bell.  The Twitter.com/tacobell looks to be suspended which means no one from taco bell has even tried to recover it, because I know for a fact they would hand it over to them if they asked.

What is interesting about Taco Bells Twitter approach is that they are spinning off local Twitter accounts and targeting those specific areas (similar to how they are doing it with Facebook). An example being http://Twitter.com/TacoBellMilwauk which services the Milwaukee area. This seems like a good idea (if they have the resources) but I wonder how much actual content they will be able generate and if they will be able to create any momentum with their accounts. Currently most of the accounts only have around 100 followers which isn’t much.

Another approach that I do like is what appears to be a van that is going around the country handing out free tacos. They have integrated clear calls to actions with the Van and encourage folks to follow them on Twitter at  http://Twitter.com/tacobelltruck  This is a great approach that ties the traditional guerilla marketing approach that we are accustomed to seeing from Taco Bell, to the social web via Twitter. Everything about this account is great, from the endless amount of content that is generated and shared via Twitpic to the word of mouth marketing that ensues around free tacos!

Taco Bell YouTube

Taco Bells YouTube account is pretty cut and dry and there does not seem to be a lot of activity going on with it. It looks like just in the last 3 months they have started uploading commercials. Pretty basic but honestly, catchy commercials like the ones Taco Bell spins off generally attract a lot of views. I have seen other well known commercial accounts on YouTube doing the same thing, and at the very least uploading commercials like this can be a very easy way to get a lot of branded impressions. YouTube is a very cost effective way of getting branded impressions from our experience.

With that said I would like to see more campaign level strategy going on with this account. I get the feeling they have just thrown stuff up without much forethought.

Taco Bell Iphone Shaker App

In May of 2009 Taco Bell launched their first crack at an Iphone app. So far it seems to have gotten pretty good coverage with over 2000 ratings so far.
In short, the app allows users to find items offered by Taco Bell under a dollar. It also has a store finder to help users find Taco Bell locations on their Iphones. Reviews so far are pretty mixed although I do appreciate the attempt by Taco Bell to enter the app market, which is growing at phenomenal rates.

Summary

In large part I get the feeling that Taco Bell’s social media initiatives are spread out and disjointed. There is very little cross promoting going on and there is definite room for tighter integration. However, overall they are doing a pretty good job of experimenting with new ideas, such as the locally targeted twitter accounts and Taco Bell Twitter Truck.

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8 Comments
  • timstaines
    Posted at 16:46h, 31 August

    Brian,

    My guess is that the local profiles are being created and maintained by local franchise owners or managers rather than corporate Taco Bell. This would explain the disjointedness . . .if that’s the case they would be managed by dozens of different people and departments with different initiatives and strategies. Very hard to control from a TB corporate standpoint.

  • BrianChappell
    Posted at 17:17h, 31 August

    Tim you are probably right about the local accounts. I doubt their corporate umbrella is managing those accounts.

  • DanaLookadoo
    Posted at 19:37h, 31 August

    I agree with Tim Staines about local franchises. I know a guy who owns a few Taco Bells and am anxious now to talk to him and probe about their social media activities. However, franchises generally follow leadership. Taco Bell has an opportunity to establish Social Media best practices for their locations to follow, to provide a level of leadership that can be duplicated.

    Great insight, Brian! Enjoyed your summary, one which many companies can learn from.

  • rafaelmontilla
    Posted at 20:17h, 31 August

    The ideas of local target on twitter accounts and Taco Bell Twitter Truck, is very good.

    Brian where is my Taco!!

  • Designisms
    Posted at 14:08h, 14 September

    I mostly agree with you here. Don’t forget the music-focused Feed The Beat social media accounts. They’ve been working well with the Taco Bell Truck on twitter.

    http://twitter.com/feedthebeat
    http://facebook.com/feedthebeat

  • Suzanne Vara
    Posted at 05:12h, 15 September

    Disjointed to say the least. I do give credit however to the franchise owners who are making attempts to promote their local stores however this really should be something that is done by corporate to keep it consistent.

    Great case study.

  • jkgibbs
    Posted at 16:20h, 16 September

    Papa John’s is taking a similar approach to Taco Bell on Twitter local accounts (@PapaJohnsRalFay). I believe this is a good approach because local franchises with the resources can automatically retweet everything the corporate account posts AND tweet their own news and promotions (as well as interact with their followers). For franchises with no resources or interest in Twitter, they can simply opt out or retweet everything from the corporate account.

    What I find interesting is restaurant franchises’ general lack of channel marketing practices. At the corporate level, companies should be mandating social media practices and monitoring complaints (ie The Such&Such Restaurant on Blah Rd. served me a hair in my soup). The corporate admin should check for such tweets, address them, and make the local stores aware. They should also make local branches aware of graces from customers as well.

  • The Social Taco
    Posted at 21:14h, 23 December

    The Taco Bell Truck, reminds me of the Koji truck out in San Fran (http://kogibbq.gizapage.com/twitter), definitely a method with some staying power, they have been doing that since twitter was an infant.

    Happy holidays everyone!
    Mike
    http://Social.MikesPad.com
    (wanna get your own Social, just reach out, we are looking for Beta testers)

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