burritoBeing social –- and quirky -– is in California Tortilla‘s DNA. SmartBrief editor Rebecca Pollack chatted with Marketing Director Stacey Kane to find out what goes on behind the scenes and how the restaurant makes sure its social media activities are anything but conventional.

California Tortilla is on Facebook and Twitter, and sends out “Taco Talk” e-newsletters. What advice do you have for complementing your actions across social networks?

Pam Felix, one of the founders of California Tortilla, has written Taco Talk since the beginning. She has given the newsletter a very distinct voice. Luckily, my natural writing style is very similar (quirky and self-deprecating). She can write Taco Talk and I can execute Twitter, Facebook, and it all sounds very “California Tortillaesque.” In fact, customers often think that Pam is writing everything.

I am in charge of planning all of our marketing initiatives and the Operations guys are responsible for making sure our awesome franchisees understand the promotion, so it is executed well. We try to make sure that the entire executive team proofs Taco Talk before it goes out, so there is no confusion when a customer walks in the door.

My advice would be to keep the number of authors limited to a few brand-passionate folks but make sure all departments have signed off on what you are disseminating.

You announce coupon secret passwords through the different platforms. Have redemptions from one platform been stronger than another?

Taco Talk is always going to deliver the most total traffic in the door with over 100,000 passionate subscribers. As the folksy newsletter is 15 years old, this makes sense. However, Facebook and Twitter will bring in a higher percentage of customers. This is probably due to the fact that Facebook and Twitter users are typically on multiple platforms and getting several daily messages as opposed to the twice monthly Taco Talk.

California Tortilla’s promotions (involving Pop Tarts, gobbling like a turkey, moving and shaking on Inauguration Day) are just plain goofy. Where do these ideas come from and are you ever concerned that customers won’t respond?

Ahhh, you had to bring up Inauguration Day. Think of that as my “I thought turkeys could fly” promotion (a free burrito to the first person who gets the reference). Who knew everyone who was off of work would be watching the Inauguration, not out dancing for tacos?

Our promotions come from various sources. Sometimes it is an idea that wakes me up in the middle of the night. It can be spawned in a staff meeting or often it comes out of sidesplitting brainstorming sessions with our Public Relations firm — Brotman, Winter, Fried. The ideas always start off as ridiculous (such as Whack a Mole Day) and then we refine them until we can turn them into a promotion that can be pulled off. At this point, we know our customer base pretty well, so we know what will garner word of mouth and spur traffic.

California Tortilla came in second place last year in the Shorty Awards, the Oscars of Twitter. Congrats! How do you keep the fresh content flowing with such a small marketing department?

We focus our attention on platforms where we know our customers will be. Twitter is the easiest medium to push out there. As the Official Tweeter, I am able to tweet straight from my phone 24 hours a day. I try not to overtweet, as people dislike their feeds getting clogged up. Facebook just takes about 10 to 15 minutes a day, and I try really hard not to get sucked into the social-networking vortex.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Making my terrific, engaged franchisees happy.

Image credit, belknap via iStock

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10 Responses to “Creating a social media voice that works for your business”

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  3. Sherri says:

    “I thought turkeys could fly” promotion. Mr.Carlson’s idea for a Thanksgiving promotion. Check out the show on Hulu.

    MUCH respect to someone who is inspired by WKRP in Cincinnati.

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  5. carl says:

    checkout http://www.socialgrub.com…it works..featured in last weeks Nations Restaurant News p.36

  6. carl says:

    checkout http://www.socialgrub.com..it works featured in last weeks nations restaurant news p36

  7. ctmarcom says:

    I’m not surprised by the positive press. I saw Stacey present at an SM conference months ago, and her passion for her job was evident. She made me want to work for Cal Tortilla!

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  10. James says:

    Using social media for a way to get out coupons is a brilliant idea. You are essentially creating an ecosystem around your business and brand. Social media is truly changing the way we do business.

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