Today was our last class of the semester and the last time our team met. Everyone seems to be on the same page and my team members should have no problem getting our different parts of the paper to Keith for him to compile by our set deadline of 8:00 PM tomorrow night. As stated in previous blog post, I researched three of Taco Bell’s top competitors: Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonalds. The best company when it comes to the use of social media in my opinion is McDonald’s.
McDonald’s has been focusing a lot lately on the quality of its food, with campaign messages regarding the fast food chain using the best potatoes for its french fries, for example. The brand’s Facebook strategy aligns well with its overall marketing. When users like the McDonald’s Facebook page, they are brought to a destination within the page where McDonald’s communicates its commitment to quality. For example, users can watch a video that features a potato farmer who talks about his dedication and struggles to grow the best quality potatoes and supply them to McDonald’s. The company posts images of its newest products on its wall, using it as a platform to keep loyalists in-the-know. There’s a lot of engagement going on here as well, with every post for the last month getting at least 200 comments and some exceeding 2,000 indicating that McDonald’s is succeeding at starting a two-way dialog with consumers on Facebook. McDonald’s gets an excellent grade in my book for its use of Facebook.
When it comes to Twitter, McDonald’s is actively talking to followers and actually asks them to talk back. “We’re here to listen and learn from all of our fans and followers,” McDonald’s says on its Twitter page. McDonald’s not only posts on its Twitter feed, but actually replies to its followers as well, again opening the door for two-way conversation. McDonald’s is literally constantly tweeting. Of course, there was that one little Twitter mess a while back. As part of the company’s promoted tweet campaign, McDonald’s wanted people to share their favorite Mickey D’s stories by using the hashtag #McDStories. Things quickly took a turn for the worst. Twitter users hijacked the hashtag and started tweeting things like: “I only eat McDonald’s when I am ill because it makes me feel sick anyway. #McDStories. ” This has become one of the defining case studies of social media. The brand put out a statement explaining that they are still learning from its experiences. The moral of the story is that everyone (yes even the king of the fast food industry) can lose control of a situation, especially when it comes to social media.
As I sit here and write this post, it’s currently the first intermission of the Blues game, so I apologize if my writing suffers a bit. I am researching the competition of my teams (group 7) brand, Taco Bell. I have monitored and learned about the use of social media by Burger King, McDonalds, and Wendy’s. I would like to share with you though a troubling discovery that I have made. Here is a link to Burger Kings Tumblr account: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/burger%20king. Do some clicking around. Scroll down a bit and click on the picture of the Burger King “king” on the left hand side of the page and prepare to be astonished. It’s appalling that this page is still up. The vulgarity, profanity, and amount of illegal activity is beyond scary. I don’t know how this is even possible! Quite simply, it’s just shocking. You just have to go and take a look for yourself. It is crazy! This is what makes social media so vulnerable to literally anything. This example of Burger King’s Tumblr page is a perfect example of how a brand can quickly and easily lose control. Burger King needs to fix this, and fast before more people discover it. It was honestly fun finding this. It’s a bit troubling though that this is so very public and that little kids that are fans of Burger King could stumble upon this, but this has made this part of my section of our public relations plan worth it.
Today, our group met to further discuss our preliminary findings. No one is really having any trouble and everything is running smoothly as far as I can tell. It is a little hard for me to focus though with all of my other classes ending around the same time as this one along with all of the studying I have to do for my finals. Oh, and not to mention the Saint Louis Blues playoff push in the National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup Playoffs is in full swing along with my beloved “second home town” team, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s run at a National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship.
Anyways my part/section of our social media plan/project/paper is researching Taco Bell’s competitor’s activity on social media. In this section, I will be selecting three major organizations/brands (Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s) that compete with our brand and describe what they are doing to listen to and/or engage with audiences through social media. As stated in the project instructions “this section is very similar to section three and should be structured along similar lines.” The key difference is that my analysis in this section is once again focused on the social media activities of the competition rather than Taco Bell’s selected brand/organization. I have so far found it easiest to research McDonald’s. Naturally, this did not come as a surprise to me because like I stated in my last blog post, they are clearly the most dominant force in the fast food industry.
Project number three is under way and my group is hard at work. Although a little restless I’m sure my group (team seven) will get everything done and turned in on time. I’m pretty sure we are all ready for summer. We have divided the paper in parts as followed: Keith is in change of the target audience and how they are using social media. Ciera is doing section three: Taco Bell’s social media activity and researching one of Taco Bell’s competitors to be used in my section. This will, obviously, require some coordination between Ciera and me. I am researching Taco Bell’s competitors (four total) and how they are using social media. Carolyn is in charge of objectives of our social media plan and ways we plan to measure how successful we were in fulfilling those objectives. Finally, last but not least, Courtney is in charge of strategies and tactics. Keith will also be in charge of compiling/putting the paper together. Ciera is researching the social media activity of one of my personal favorite fast food “taco joints,” Jack in the Box.
I am researching three other national chains: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. I don’t really know too much about Wendy’s. I’ve only had it a few times in my life and rarely see one. McDonald’s is of course the king of the fast food industry and Burger King is right behind them along with Taco Bell. There are many competitors of Taco Bell, but I felt as though these were the biggest and most active on social media.
We turned in project number two and I felt like we do a good job! Our group didn’t waste any time and got everything in on time. Everyone did a great job!
My part/section of the paper was the purpose section. Now, the question is why is it so important to monitor social media about your brand/organization? Obviously Taco Bell wants/needs do be aware of what is being said about their organization, its products. Like we learned in class, it’s also critical the Taco Bell knows how audiences are talking about and sharing content, and how they are interacting with content. Again, like we learned in class our brand needs/wants to know where, and among whom, conversations are happening about key topics and issues important to the organization. Monitoring social media is a key to understanding what audiences care about. Also, monitoring social media helps in measuring how organizational communications are being received.
In social media, the goal is to be proactive, and not reactive. By having a finger on the pulse, one will always be aware of what is being said about one’s product, brand and company. With this information, problems can be averted and prevented from becoming a full-blown crisis. You’ll be able to find people who are actively searching for your products/services and reach out to them as soon as their questions are asked. You’ll also be able to join conversations that surround your industry, making sure that you have a viable chance of being recognized. I found, in my opinion the best analogy for social in the world in a recent Mashable article that I stumbled upon. Social media is like the “largest cocktail party in the world” (no, not to be confused with the University of Florida versus the University of Georgia football rivalry game). It’s a room filled with people driven by one desire to communicate, share, digest and relate, while carrying on many independent conversations. Some of these conversations can be about you, your competitors or your industry. Some of these conversations could be people looking for a product like yours. They will talk about all these topics regardless of whether you are listening or not. However, you wouldn’t know any of this if you weren’t listening.
As the deadline for project number two approached everyone in my group (team 7) got there section/part in on time. I wasn’t really surprised but I was happy and I know it made things easier on Courtney to put together. Our group, team seven, had come up with many great ideas for project number two. Some of the brands/organizations that were thrown out there were Nike, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Taco Bell. Ultimately we chose Taco Bell as our topic.
Taco Bell Corporation operates a chain of Mexican-style quick service restaurants. Taco Bell has a fascinating history and certainly has come a long way. After leaving the Marine Corps at age twenty three, Glen Bell came home to San Bernardino, California and opened a hot dog stand. But his real interest was in alternative menu items, so he began selling tacos for nineteen cents from a side window of the hot dog stand. When the tacos proved as popular as he had hoped, he started opening Taco Tia stands where tacos were the stars of the menu. In 1962, Bell sold the Taco Tia brand to his partners and opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California. Franchising began two years later.
Today, Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Incorporated which also franchises A&W Restaurants, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut. Taco Bell is the number one Mexican fast-food chain in the United States, with more than 5,600 locations. Taco Bell units can be found operating as free-standing units and as quick-service kiosks in such places as shopping malls and airports. Taco Bell also has more than 250 international locations in 20 countries. More than twenty percent of the restaurants are company-operated. Taco Bell’s parent YUM! Brands, is the world’s number one fast-food company.
Thursday, seemed like we had an actual class for the first time in forever, but I don’t think anyone was complaining, at least I wasn’t! Our group (team 7) has been ahead of schedule ever since we got started on day one. In class, we set a specific deadline (Wednesday by 5:00 pm) to have our sections/parts of the paper emailed to Courtney in order for her to compile the deliverable. It is hard to believe that the semester is almost over and I feel like everyone is just ready for summer and getting a little restless. Hopefully every one can stay focused and keep on course to finish the semester strong.
My part/section of the paper is the “purpose” portion. First, I will introduce our organization/brand (Taco Bell) and provide facts about it. After that, I will explain why it is important to monitor social media conversations about your organization/brand. In order to write this part/section of my paper I will have to do a little more research and find some miscellaneous facts and information about Taco Bell. After providing some facts about Taco Bell, I will revisit some of the slides from classes earlier this semester about monitoring. I will probably pull some information from those class slides explaining why it is important to monitor social media conversations about your organization/brand. I will also definitely plan on looking at some outside sources from industry professionals about why this monitoring social media conversation about your organization/brand is so important.