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Missing: Taco Bell’s Social Media

Posted: November 3, 2014, 7:45 p.m.
by Doug Killough.

Just when we thought social media was becoming the new foundation for marketing and public relations strategies, Taco Bell throws us a curve ball.

Taco Bell recently engaged in a social media blackout in an effort to promote its new mobile app. Its only posts visible on Facebook and Twitter included #onlyintheapp. The idea is that the only thing consumers need is the app. Smart? It seemed to pay off. In just 11 hours the Live Más app jumped from the 1,379th overall ranked app in the U.S. to the 24th. The company relied on consumer loyalty to carry the risky endeavor forward and create waves in the social media realm of public relations and brand marketing.

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From a public relations standpoint, having no social media presence is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute — it’s social (media) suicide. It’s a leap of faith. It’s a trust fall, and you’re hoping your consumers will catch you.

So why would disappearing on social media help promote a mobile app? My theory: It’s so unusual that it sparked conversation. It’s so out-of-the-ordinary that it created a buzz. Taco Bell went against the common approach of building a strong social media presence — there wasn’t one. Or was there?

I was skeptical when I was first exposed to Taco Bell’s absence on social media. It only created the inability to communicate with consumers regarding comments and concerns. I sat back and waited for the implosion, but all that came was an explosion of buzz.

Taco Bell has 1.4 million followers on Twitter and 10.6 million likes on Facebook. Cutting off any communication is risky, but when you have that many followers and you seemingly disappear, people will notice and people will talk. It worked. The conversation grew, and people started talking, listening and then downloading.

Taco Bell’s unconventional approach to social media and strong support system from consumers allowed for a successful introduction to the new Live Más app. As for how truly successful the app will be, only time will tell.

Taco Bell has since brought back power to its social media accounts. It is no longer blacked out, or inactive, and now people are talking on Twitter and Facebook. It’s as if Taco Bell gave consumers something to talk about and then gave them a place to talk. When Taco Bell jumped, its consumers provided the safe landing.

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