A Taco-Flavored Guide to Content Strategy: 3 Lessons From Taco Bell’s Digital Success


“Content is king” … one of the most (over)used phrases in the communication industry today. What’s all the fuss about content and why are we still talking about it?

The answer is twofold:

  1. Content is the cookie; it’s how we draw our audiences into our brand or company story. Without compelling, differentiated content your marketing and communication programs will suffer. Michael R. Hunder does a great job of outlining why content is king in this blog post.
  2. It’s difficult to cut through today’s record-level online clutter, and marketers can’t seem to crack the code. Google CEO Eric Schmidt explains just how difficult it is with this quote: “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.”

As I sat at my computer thinking about which brands were dominating the content marketing world, a Tweet popped up on my timeline that read “#TacoBell makes me happy.” I thought to myself, “what a random thing to post?” Then I clicked on the tweet to reveal it had garnered 3,420 retweets and 2,537 favorites. After a bit of digging, I uncovered that Ad Age named Taco Bell Marketer of the Year last year. My search for a content marketing strategy to examine was over.

Here are three key lessons marketers can learn from Taco Bell’s slam-dunk content strategy:

  1. Know your audience. Taco Bell’s content is aimed at the 16-24-year-old demographic. This is an active group on social media, so Taco Bell focuses its content marketing efforts primarily on these networks. It has built a significant following on each of the major social networks by posting fun, sharable content that its target demographic connects with (see the Tweet mentioned above.) If you’re trying to sell hearing aids, my guess is that your target audience isn’t 16-24, and I’d argue social isn’t the best platform for your content. Establish your audience, find out where they’re spending their time and build a presence there.
  2. Team up with the cool kids. Taco Bell has strategically partnered with celebrities that appeal to its audience. By aligning its brand with these individuals, Taco Bell won over its key demographic. Taco Bell’s celebrity partners like DJ Dillon Francis and social celebrity Tyler Oakley have between 60,000 and nearly 2 million Twitter followers, for example. Entering into partnerships where you’re getting not only the cool factor, but a significant audience, is a surefire win/win.
  3. Manage the conversation. Alignment with celebrities and its sharable, fun and visually appealing content helped make it popular for members of its target audience to rave about Taco Bell online. The combination of these factors have helped it create engagement and positive conversations about its product, something countless brands have struggled to figure out. Take McDonalds, for example, who launched a misguided hashtag campaign called #McDStories in 2012. McHaters hijacked the hashtag to post horror stories about the brand, resulting in a major hit to McDonalds’ online presence. The lesson here? Don’t give your haters a platform to diss on your brand.

Alright, I’ve built up quite an appetite with all this talk about Taco Bell. See you at the drive-thru.


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