On October 28th, Taco Bell made news by going dark on its Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts to promote the release of its new mobile app, which allows you to pre-order and customize your food.
The message broadcast across the social media platforms was the same: Taco Bell isn’t here, it’s only on the app.
The company’s bold move has highlighted the possibility that social media might mark as permanent a shift in consumer consciousness as previously believed. YouGov’s Social Media 2014 report shows at least one in ten Twitter and Facebook users have abandoned the service in the past year, citing loss of interest, privacy concerns, and – surprise – a growing irritation with the onslaught of marketing and advertising.
Brand-focused apps are definitely an important part of the future, especially when they’re as functional as Taco Bell’s. Their ordering system gives you the option of letting the restaurant know to prepare your food when you’re within 500 feet of the store, and you get to skip the line when you arrive. Taco Bell also plans to implement a rewards system, similar to the one Starbucks has for its mobile app, which is a surefire way of attracting repeat business.But the obvious strengths of brand apps doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon social media. Sure, usage is trending downward, but many experts believe that’s simply because these platforms have gone from something shiny and new to becoming an integral part of users’ lives. Facebook may have lost users, but it still claims 86 percent of those on social media.In fact, Taco Bell didn’t even abandon social media. Their Twitter was renamed in honor of the marketing stunt, but mow they are back to normal. Which shows that the blackout of social media was simply a very clever way to use social media to promote. And that’s the goal, right? The company has actually been hugely successful in that venue, as well. Their Twitter has 1.43 million followers and even garnered its own Buzzfeed article for how witty and entertaining it can be.
The solution seems to be cross-marketing, which is more important than ever. Putting the focus on brand apps is a smart way to grow business, but as Taco Bell said themselves, thousands of apps are released every day. You need a platform to stand out, and social media is still the best option.
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