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  • Writer's pictureChris Bowler

Social Media Spotlight: Moe's Southwest Grill

Take a look at a brand that's punching above its weight

In a continuing series looking at exceptional social media programs, today the spotlight is on Moe's Southwest Grill, a quick-service Mexican restaurant chain. Unlike the last spotlight where we looked at what the TSA was doing to inform passengers around security issues at airports, here we have a category where social media naturally is fun and, some would say, 'easy' to pull off. I mean, Mexican fast food? It writes itself, right?

But for a smallish franchise operation, what Moe's is doing is both business-focused as well as highly creative. The result is a ton of engagement which drives top-of-mind awareness on key days and dayparts. I would venture to guess that its social media program is one of the most dynamic elements of its overall marketing efforts.

Let's take a look at some of the strategies they are employing.

1. Playing to the brand's strengths. Moe's is known for a few things, such as their free chips, and their infamous melted Queso dip. One of the commandments of successful social marketing is to reinforce the brand's advantages through social media. That's what Moe's does so well here, in a fun and creative way.

2. Tying the brand to today's cultural moments. Most brands do this, of course. Whether its music, movies, or memes (the three M's), it's a sure-fire way to be current, relevant, and fun. Remember the iconic Oreo 'Dunk in the Dark' tweet, which arguably started it all? In their very own way, Moe's celebrates and pokes fun at Valentine's Day, Pi Day, and the Game of Thrones Finale.

3. Be unexpected. One of the key challenges for any brand is getting a user's attention. It's so easy for users to scroll past a post - even a promoted one - while looking for the latest story about Aunt Millie's cat. That's why tactics to ensure 'thumb-stopping' are so important. Here, Moe's does a few things right.

First, placing the product in surprising scenarios gets the attention of users, whether it's featuring a burrito as a wedding cake or showing how it can be eaten with chopsticks. Second, notice the high fidelity of photography, making the food appear as appetizing as possible. (This is counter to a typical best practice of shooting original, unvarnished photography to convey authenticity.) The result? In many cases, over a thousand 'likes' per post (along with comments and shares).

4. Responding quickly to users (tying back to #1). When a 'fan' tweeted his apparent dislike for Moe's Queso, the brand quickly tweeted back the following:

The response was same-day. So many brands today prevent themselves from being able to pull this off. They are often mired with internal debate, legal review, approval, etc, that would have negated the real-time response needed for this tweet.

Overall, it's refreshing to see a brand have so much fun with social media. Take away these four tips to enhance your social media work:

  1. Play to your brand's strengths

  2. Tie your brand to relevant cultural moments

  3. Be unexpected

  4. Respond quickly to users in meaningful ways.

How are you succeeding in social media? Feel free to leave a comment below. And, if you're looking to take your social media efforts to the next level, feel free to reach out.

Note, in full disclosure, my partner is employed by Moe's, which turned me on to their social media program - along with ensuring I enjoy Moe's free chips and salsa.

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