COM0015 – Blog #2 – Food for Thought

Taco Bell may very well be the leader in fast food social media. While perhaps not the biggest name the American company has developed a brand which reflects their menu offerings while also fitting almost perfectly online. The Taco Bell brand is edgy, new and different, a lot like their food.

Not only does Taco Bell understand that their fans want to connect with a brand and feel engaged, Taco Bell challenges their fans. The account is witty, thoughtful and engaging while also being cutting edge. In 2014 Taco Bell took a massive step when they ‘turned off’ their social media accounts for Taco Bell Blackout. As a means to promote their app the blackout changed the way I personally looked at social media.

Since, the Blackout of 2014 I have never been able to take my eyes off them. Now, engaging with

The strength of Taco Bell’s social media platforms are not that they simply understand their market, but that they strive to lead their target audience on an extreme journey. Rather than attempting to appeal to a number of markets Taco Bell is confident in who they are and who their audience is. They are cutting edge and sharp and they offer their follows a bit of social media spice.

Drawing on their target market to also develop an absolutely dynamite brand is Red Bull. Beyond their extremely annoying cartoon commercials on television the Red Bull brand online is dynamic, cutting edge and connects directly to the age demographic they are most targeting with their beverages. Seeking to connect with a crowd they don’t have to win over from the caffeine powers of coffee, Red Bull understands how they need to shape their brand for the social media generation. Red Bull’s strength is their understanding of the power of innovative content.

The sheer existence of Red Bull Media House underlines to what extent the brand recognizes and understands the importance of having a brand sell more than the product. Red Bull have redefined a lifestyle with videos you can’t help but watch, content you want to dive into and explore. While never directly marketing their product Red Bull continuously produce content which capture your attention without ever seeing the drink.

Back in 2012 James O’Brien wrote “Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage.” Now three years later, the empire is only growing, and the drinks brand is in some ways more powerful than the brand. Creating their own galleries of content; using great images to drive followers back to their website Red Bull sells their product often without a single mention of the beverage itself.

While Taco Bell and Red Bull seem to be controlling the social media market not every brand has it figured out. In the food industry, try as they might, some brands strategies just seem to miss. Take for instance well known restaurant Pizza Hut. The chain’s social media strategy seems, like their menu changes, to be a major miss.

A 2014 interview with Ric Dragon on social media today reads like a joke to anyone who’s looked into the brand. In the interview Director of Social Media and Engagement Jenna Bromberg suggested that “With all the planning that we do and all the pretty pictures that we take, our most retweeted tweet organically of all time was these three silly, three saucy guys, saying ‘order pizza tonight.’ And my point being, some of our biggest successes have just been in our super-quick agile reaction to things that our communities are tweeting or posting about.”

The content on Pizza Hut feeds is anything but engaging. Their official Facebook page seems as though it’s almost completely ignored. Almost no effort has been made to organize their YouTube page, which is a mess of commercials and good videos sadly buried amongst the bland content, such as the “The Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA.”

What’s worse, Pizza Hut’s foray into Twitter seems like a cry for help. Their content, like their featured products attempts to separate itself from the competition by being unique, but simply appears awkward in comparison. Pizza Hut fails to engage with their clients the same way that Taco Bell does and the content they create, unlike Red Bull, leave you with an even worse impression of the product and brand.

Pizza Hut needs to redefine themselves, if they want to be the pizza brand who offers unique products they need to focus on portraying themselves as unique but enjoyable. Rather than live on the fringe the product needs to seek to engage with followers who enjoy what is being offered. Generating discussions and creating a bond between platforms is essential.

The first step to a better Pizza Hut is deciphering who really dines at the restaurant. Where Taco Bell and Red Bull have identified their target audiences there seems to be no consistency between the pizza chains products. A good first step would be to ensure consistency across platforms. Choose one message and link all the messaging back to one thing they wish to be known for. Currently, Pizza Hut has a lot to learn; the days of quirky is cool are fading, without being true to themselves on all platforms Pizza Hut promises to continue to miss the mark for months to come.

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