Taco Bell uses more than food to engage with millennials

How to engage millennials and why Taco Bell gets it right

I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too.

They tell jokes, they know their life is a mess and aren’t afraid to embrace it, they know they aren’t creating world peace and they aren’t afraid to admit it. They posted one tweet that had me laughing for 10 minutes.

My friend is a taco…

Taco Bell offers far more to engage with millennials than cheap and easy food.

Well more specifically, Taco Bell.

Taco Bell isn’t competing to stand up for social causes like Nike or Gillette. They instead focus on creating relatable content to engage millennials. They distribute content on platforms where consumers can engage and interact with their brand.

Taco Bell has brand intimacy because of their ability to follow and adopt millennial trends. This allows them to appear in people’s minds as a “cool friend”, providing them with stories and memes rather than advertisements.

They use honest, transparent, and engaging marketing across multiple platforms to develop their brand authenticity.

Below: we will discuss their presence on Reddit, the Taco emoji campaign, and their voice on social media, particularly Twitter to show how your company can engage millennials and stay relevant in 2019.

Engaging with millennials – Twitter.

Successful branding in 2019 means making connections. That can be by taking a stance on social issues or taking a stab at your competitors. But the content most likely to engage Millenials? Humor.

Taco Bell creates brand authenticity with its philosophy of not taking itself too seriously, meaning it is perceived as a friend as opposed to a brand.

Taco Bell engages with millennials by targeting other brands on Twitter
Taco Bell claps back at Old Spice in a playful interaction.

Generally, when HuffPost says they want to be your best friend, you’re getting something right. Taco Bell shows us: by inserting yourself in the right spaces, you can prove you are in tune with millennial culture.

Tweeting about Mean Girls, Taco Bell presents itself as a fan, relating with the Mean Girls fans of the world. Clapping back at Old Spice, Taco Bell presents itself as human and shows it too can be sassy and facetious.

Through sending gifts to customers, it leverages its social relevance to earn advocacy from users. This includes everyday users to influencers with up to 600,000 followers.

Taco Bell’s authentic branding is evident in every tweet.  

So how can you stick out to consumers as a friend rather than a brand? Stay light-hearted, actively respond to critiques, and keep up to date with trends and tastes.

The Taco Emoji

Taco Bell uses the emoji trend to engage with millennials
Taco Bell utilizes the emoji trend to engage with customers.

One of Taco Bell’s most remarkable feats is recognizing the increasing dependence on Emojis across society. On June 17th, 2015, the taco was inducted into Unicode’s set of emojis. This was because Taco Bell ran a petition on change.org which reached 32,687 signatures.

Taco Bell used its perception as a casual brand. Leveraging a usually serious medium to talk about an almost comedic issue.

Not only did they reach 10s of thousands through change.org and secure the bragging rights associated with creating an emoji. Taco Bell earned huge amounts of engagement on Twitter. Users could tweet Taco Bell to combine two emojis into one (as shown below). Taco Bell would respond with a creation from its emoji engine.

Watch to see how Taco Bell created an emoji to engage with millennial smartphone users.

Taco Bell caused a spike in user engagement on Twitter. Being able to directly interact with the corporation’s official Twitter account builds personability and relatability.

Also, they turn core fans into influencers, leveraging their accounts to spread advocacy and build trust.

Millennials resonate far more with influencers than traditional marketing.

Traditional marketers design campaigns to display product value. However, for Taco Bell, marketing means ​creating ​value by delivering meaningful content to consumers.

In short, marketing shouldn’t be about the product, but about the connection people feel to your brand.

Taco Bell on Reddit

Reddit has historically been unfriendly to brands, being considered by CNBC to have the least valuable users.

So, instead of trying to seek ways to advertise to redditors, Taco Bell breaks the cycle, giving Redditors what they need – something to talk about. Users in r/TacoBell can find discussion about the restaurant, memes, and frequent posts of user’s meals.

Reddit is a close-knit community of people sharing information and opinions. Its users are skeptical. Consequently, to gain acceptance into the Reddit community, a brand must give control to the user.

Taco Bell steps back and allows users to steer the conversation, resulting in unconventional earned media in the form of memes.

Redditor u/_crunchwrap_ uses Taco Bell as a meme in r/TacoBell.

Taco Bell’s designated subreddit hosts a community of people who feel connected to what the brand shares. It dwarfs competitors, like Wendy’s and Burger King, with 41,000 subscribers.

Taco Bell is authentic in the media it distributes whilst others get sniffed out and torn apart for lackluster endorsements of social causes (Pepsi). On the contrary, Taco Bell inspires users to share and spoof the content they create.

Top posts on Taco Bell’s subreddit show that to achieve acceptance into a tightknit community, a brand must be willing to be memed by its users.

For example, by not taking yourself too seriously, you can thrive by handing users content and allowing them to repurpose and distribute it as they like.

Taco Bell on Snapchat

Snapchat is seeing huge growth and offers the perfect outlet for interactive content. Taco Bell is taking advantage of the new ‘social networking app of millennials‘ by allowing them to depict themselves as Tacos through augmented reality.

To engage millennials Taco Bell used AR and Snapchat.
See how users depict themselves as Tacos through AR.

Snapchat saw its company record for most views in a day smashed by Taco Bell‘s 2016 sponsored lens campaign. The company uses flexible and funny content to engage millennials and allows them the freedom to create what they want to share.

Taco Bell, engaging millennials.

Taco Bell takes up a meaningful spot in its customers lives by deliberately not taking itself too seriously. Its honest and authentic marketing gives users control over how they interact with the brand, allowing it to engage millennials in online communities like Twitter and Reddit.

You can engage millennials by being honest with yourself and your customers. By claiming to have the best products or pretending to be fighting for the social causes they care about you expose yourself to scrutiny. However, by providing users with valuable content you allow yourself to become a part of a community.

This post was written by Cindy Flores and Blake Axtell. The post was edited by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. Please contact the authors for more information on this topic.

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