Alex Kistler
Alex Kistler
May 8, 2015
Get Schooled By Taco Bell

It takes a lot to impress a young millennial, and I (Halley, Telegraph Intern) should know – I am one. It’s common knowledge that we love social media, wreaking havoc on cities by night and ignoring our parents when they ask us to eat healthy foods. With so much information floating around about digital natives, it’s hard to understand why more companies aren’t following Taco Bell’s lead in emerging social media channels. Taco Bell manages what so many other companies can’t – They get teenagers and college students to freely listen to them.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Taco Bell now serves breakfast, most notoriously the Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap. But truthfully, the most innovative part of their breakfast isn’t that it exists, but how they marketed it. 


Taco Bell consistently shows that it knows its audience, and it knows where they hangout online (and in real life too). On social media, they don’t try and constantly cram sales messages and hard sells into newsfeeds and homepages. Instead, they share visual slices of Taco Bell culture.


Taco Bell was an early brand on Snapchat and directly snapchatted users to tell them about the return of the Beefy Crunch Burrito. By asked users to follow them, Taco Bell created its own captive audience of fans, and utilizes this direct communication to reach them.


It’s not the first time Taco Bell has distinguished itself on social media. In March 2014, Taco Bell’s president hosted a successful AMA on Reddit to a notoriously difficult to please audience who asked about everything from Justin Beiber to store hours to the return of beloved retired menu items. Taco Bell was also an early adopter of Vine, and posts ads that are actually entertaining and completely on message with the brand. They were also one of the first advertisers on Instagramand worked closely with Instagram to create images that fit into their strict advertising guidelines.

Taco Bell even earned praise from the Public Relations world. They found 1,000 social brand influencers and sent them burner phones from the brand, complete with a phone number directly to Taco Bell headquarters and daily missions they could complete for prizes. The sheer novelty and reach of the phones was enough not only to generate it dozens of pieces of earned media but also to reach people who wouldn’t normally be listening to Taco Bell’s messages. This word of mouth generation is so successful that it’s a wonder it hasn’t been this well utilized before.


In a big picture world, youthful brands need to start taking after Taco Bell. If your market is on social media like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat, you need to learn to speak to them on it. The worst thing you could do would be to intrude upon their lives. Good advertisements provide a solution for something the consumer didn’t even know they needed, without getting in the way of their daily lives. Taco Bell’s advertisements don’t intrude; they entertain. If your brand is concerned about the decline of Facebook’s organic reach and you think your customers are on other social outlets, maybe it’s time to talk to the experts at Telegraph about how best to reach them where they are. Highly visual brands have a place on Instagram and Pinterest. Funny brands have a place on Vine and Snapchat. It’s all about finding your voice and making sure it resonates in the right ways. “You have to talk to them where they are,” said Taco Bell CMO Chris Brandt. “Nothing is worse than [social media marketing] that’s out of context.”