- Taco Bell leaned heavily on Instagram in its marketing push for the Naked Chicken Chalupa, according to a report in Business Insider. The fast food chain invited Instagram users around the U.S. to so-called Speakeasies during which they were encouraged to try the new chalupas and photograph them. Props and bright lights helped the social media savvy group capture good images for Instagram feeds.
The social media initiative tied to the Naked Chicken Chalupa is indicative of a larger strategy by Taco Bell to depend on influencers rather than its own social media accounts to appeal to customers. The chain is building stronger relationships with micro-influencers that have small but loyal and engaged followings.
- Taco Bell has also transformed its Instagram account, which has 1 million followers, into a digital art gallery spotlighting the work of its in-house creative team and partner artists, and the chain plays close attention to how menu items will appear on social media before releasing them. In particular, culinary specialists keep tabs on Taco Bell items that are trending on Instagram to inform the development of future items.
CMO Marisa Thalberg recently divulged that Taco Bell is pulling back on digital spend in 2017, but that doesn’t mean it's dropping the channel by any means. Instead, it seems as though Taco Bell is endeavoring to do more with less in its digital efforts, as the Naked Chicken Chalupa initiative shows.
Taco Bell's pivot to micro-influencers and the reliance on an in-house creative team to bolster its Instagram presence are practices that could net effective social media results without the cost of outside digital agencies or big-time brand ambassadors. In addition, Taco Bell's showcasing of its culinary operation in social media conversations fosters consumer consideration throughout the menu creation process, potentially leading to a better-curated selection of items.
Taco Bell isn’t the first company to discover the benefits of leveraging micro-influencers. E.L.F. Cosmetics, for example, built a community of around 50 micro-influencers in a program called Beautyscape that generated a 25% jump in Instagram followers.
Taco Bell’s micro-influencer outreach, at least when it came to the Naked Chicken Chalupa, is integrated into a fun campaign across TV and other digital platforms. Developed by Deutsch L.A., the TV campaign for the menu item revolved around a fictional Council for Eating Fried Chicken the Same Way You Always Have.
Ryan Rimsnider, the brand's senior manager of social strategy, told Business Insider that the goal is to stoke a fan culture that promotes the cult of Taco Bell. As millennial and Gen Z diners consider healthier alternatives, keeping Taco Bell cool on social media might go a long way toward ensuring they don't give up tacos in favor of acai bowls.