Chipotle is somewhat of an enigma.  How does a now household restaurant chain name with more than 1,200 stores, 1.7 million social media fans create so much buzz without an onslaught of traditional marketing?

It’s something that Chipotle prides itself on, keeping loyal to its simple goal of “changing the way people think about their food,” while not spending millions on traditional advertising and channeling their energy and resources into grassroots initiatives.  Here is a sneak peek into Chipotle’s social media efforts, with a few highlights from Mashable’s interview with Chipotle’s New Media Manager, Joe Stupp:

  1. One-on-One Conversation – Chipotle is very loyal to its one-on-one engagement model for its social media platforms, in fact the company responds to 83% of its Facebook posts and about 90% of its Twitter activity.  The 3-person response team makes it a point to get to know their customers, by having genuine conversations with them and not simply chasing metrics.
  2. Creative Content – The company does not like producing boring content, so if you are looking for dry press releases, you may be out of luck.  The company made a bit of a splash during the Grammy Awards when they launched their first (and only) tv ad, an animated film called “Back to the Start,” which reinforces the company’s core philosophy of getting people to think about where their food comes from.  Additionally, the company launched a YouTube video “Abandoned,” in which they “spotlight on the impact of industrialization on family farms and, again, initiated public conversation on a relevant issue.”  Keeping content creative is a key to engaging with their community.
  3. Community-Driven Initiatives – Chipotle is very passionate about creating tangible online and offline promotions that “reinforce its commitment to supporting family farmers and educating people about food.”  This is done through their Halloween “Boo-rito” contest and subsequently the newest dress up as a family farm animal and you can buy a burrito for $2, where the $2 actually goes towards FarmAid.  Also through the new Chipotle Cultivate Music Festival in Chicago, where food, farmers, chefs and musicians are all together to feature responsibly-grown dishes and educational opportunities about sustainable farming and treatment of animals.  Lastly, the company recently launched “Farm Team,” which is an online initiative that rewards people for exploring the website, watching videos, taking polls and sharing their farming practice knowledge with others in their social network.  Participants are rewarded with food, t-shirts and other prizes.

So, what’s next for the company? Honestly, Stupp says more of the same.  The focus on individual conversations and community education initiatives are core to the company and will not waiver as the brand grows.

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