Fast Food Chains Succeed on Social Media with Unconventionality

February 5, 2014

bdd brand snapshot

Taco Bell won the Ad Age Marketer of the Year Award in 2013, and for good reason. According to the publication, the chain posted an eight percent increase in US sales in 2012 (double the gains of McDonald’s). The launch of new product Doritos Locos Tacos was fueled by social media and recorded the most successful product launch in the company’s 50-year history.

Taco Bell’s social media marketing endeavors have been wildly well received; the brand boasts over 10 million engaged fans on Facebook and almost a million followers on Twitter. But what’s most interesting is the Mexican fast-food chain’s philosophy on the social web: phenomenal photos (the obvious) alongside a bit of sarcasm, wit, and a blatantly authentic personality.

Taco Bell isn’t afraid to get feisty – especially when it’s defending itself.

Taco Bell’s real time, on-the-fly social strategy is one to be beat. Now, the fast food chain is taking over Snapchat, and is one of the first brands to successfully do so.

Wendy’s is another unique player among the fast food chains on social media. Last fall, its #PretzelLoveStories was a huge hit, provoking Forbes to remark the chain’s social strategy to be founded on “massive stupidity” and “unbelievably dumb stuff that’s blow-milk-out-your-nose funny.”

It’s common knowledge that possessing human qualities is what drives brands’ success on the social web, but at what point do you turn into the all-annoying Stifler from American Pie?

Are there lessons your brand can learn from fast food social media?

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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.