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February 07, 2013

Strategic social success: Why Chipotle is more than burritos

Written by Investis Digital

Whether you prefer mild, medium or hot, Chipotle has it all. Their social media marketing strategy however, only comes one way – ON FIRE. The Mexican-style chain is not only changing the way brands serve food, but also the way they interact with customers.

The fast and fresh restaurant began in Denver in 1993, and their simple concept and ingredient-focused philosophy has since inspired a slew of copy-cats. With well over a thousand locations today, Chipotle has stayed true to their goal: to change the way people think about food. With initiatives such as the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation – a non-profit focused on supporting family farms, increasing animal welfare, improving nutrition and reducing obesity in children – they are certainly succeeding.

For the reasons above and many more, Chipotle is a refreshing rarity in the industry, and their attentive approach to social media sets them further apart. With a slow social beginning – Chipotle actually took over a customer-created Facebook fan page – the brand has built a large following and now has a three-person social media team. Each staff member signs their name after posts for personalization, taking their “back to the basics” approach to the roots of connecting through communication.

In a recent survey on the most socially devoted brands in the U.S. from Socialbakers, Chipotle ranked in the top 10 for Facebook. Although they are successful on other platforms, their “organic strategy” on Facebook is especially appealing. They place a much larger focus on cultivating connections with users than on numbers or advertising. Below, we’ve outlined the three best practices that have led to Chipotle’s success on Facebook:

Know your mission: “Food with integrity” is the motivator behind all that Chipotle does. Whether it’s supporting family farms or sourcing local ingredients, the brands transparency establishes authenticity. Below is an example of an event they held benefiting educational non-profit Veggie U, documented through a Facebook photo album. As you can see, it garnered many responses and high engagement level from fans. This demonstrates the importance of staying true to your brand intentions, as well as the influence imagery holds on social media platforms with visual opportunities.

chipotle4Offer value: It’s important to know who your customers are and how you can best serve them. Whether you are providing a service or product, you want people to be satisfied with the takeaway. Business Insider reports that “Chipotle has found a ‘sweet spot’ with millennials by solidifying its reputation for freshness, and offering a healthier fare than its competitors.” Even with fairly low prices, Chipotle runs deals and loyalty programs. It doesn’t hurt that they have fun with it, too! “Where’s the coolest place you’ve eaten a Chipotle burrito?”


Listen to your fans! Chipotle certainly didn’t make the Top 10 Socially Devoted Facebook Brands list because they ignore comments and questions. With over 2 million fans, the brand still manages to have an extremely impressive 95% response rate. Their average response time on Facebook is only 65 minutes – they know how urgent burritos can be! Even if you can’t employ a full-time social media staff, it’s important to use your judgment to respond to as many users as possible – after all, they are the ones building up your business.

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What do you think of Chipotle’s social media marketing strategy? Which other brands can we learn from on social media? We’d love to hear feedback and ideas in the comments below!

Contact ZOG Digital today for Facebook optimization, social strategy or social media marketing.

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