Chipotle’s Mexican Grill Turns to TikTok for Recruitment and Influencers

Chipotle has always been ahead of the curve when utilizing social media in its marketing strategy. From incorporating memes in Instagram to Twitter haiku contests, they’ve utilized social media in a way few other restaurants can claim. Recently, they announced their new TikTok influencers Creator Class.

Fifteen TikTok fans with huge followings will receive exclusive opportunities to thank you for supporting the brand and helping them grow. These influencers include Sarah Brooks, with 5 million followers; Newton Nguyen, with 7.5 million fans; and Nina Marie Daniele, with 3 million admirers.

Chipotle’s Creator Class receives priority status when it comes to future paid campaigns. Nation’s Restaurant News reported a few of the other perks this select group may receive:

  • Free food as well as free burritos for some of their followers.
  • A visit to Chipotle’s 22,000-square-foot Cultivate Test Kitchen at UCI Research Park in Irvine, California. This state-of-the-art facility is where chefs test new promising menu items on focus groups for feedback. The test kitchen also has a space to create digital content and a production studio for film commercials.
  • Three compensated virtual brainstorming sessions.

Using Social Media to Recruit Staff

Chipotle also turned to this social media platform to help in their recruitment efforts, inviting applicants to send a short-form video. Their chief diversity, Marissa Andrada, told Nation’s Restaurant News, “Given the current hiring climate and our strong growth trajectory, it’s essential to find new platforms to directly engage in meaningful career conversations with Gen Z.”

Something seems to be working in their recruiting strategy, as they have hired more than 82,000 staff in 2021 alone. Chipotle has also increased their starting wages, ranging from $11 to $18, depending on the position and restaurant’s location.

Chipotle has faced many challenges throughout its 28-year history. Yet, they seem to come back from each setback a little stronger, utilizing technology and social media to let their fans know they’re leaders in delivering solutions that revolutionize the fast-casual industry.

It is one of the many reasons this brand has gone from a single restaurant in Denver, Colorado, to over 2,800 units. When founder Steve Ells first opened with the help of his father, they calculated that Ells would have to sell 107 burritos a day to break even. In just one month, they were selling over 1000 a day.

Engaging With Followers

Today’s engaged world demands a solid social media presence that demonstrates a brand’s relevance, voice, and passion. Developing an active online social media presence comes from interacting with the online community and encouraging communications.

Having a few influencers on your side doesn’t hurt either. The Brower Group reported that Chipotle responds to about 90% of their Twitter followers and over 83% of comments received on Facebook. They personalize these comments with a signature and keep their brand’s voice lighthearted and humorous.

Finding Influencers for Your Brand

Of course, not all of us have the type of perks Chipotle can offer mega-connected influencers. However, many of today’s consumers turn to their recommendations when deciding where to eat out. So, what can restaurants do to tap into this marketing strategy?

There are tens of thousands of influencers, each with over 100,000 followers, on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.  An influencer has developed a certain level of authority in their niche, in this case, food. As a result, their audience trusts them, and even just one post about your post-worthy establishment can reach thousands of people.

First, decide which platform you’d like to start with. If your dishes are particularly aesthetically appealing, consider Instagram.

Local micro-influencers, those with less than 10,000 followers, are particularly helpful for smaller brands. They may have fewer followers, but their reach is regional and localized. They also tend to cost much less than those with million-plus followers.

This leads us to how to develop a relationship with an influencer. You can find local influencers by searching for specific Instagram hashtags, looking through YouTube under your city and type of food, and searching Google for local food bloggers. While most charge per post, some will accept free meals as partial compensation. Make sure to monitor engagement once the post goes live and repost the content on your social media accounts.

If you find social media marketing a little overwhelming and don’t have the time to post, repost, and tweet, consider turning to one of your current staff members. You undoubtedly have a social media wiz on your team and, as busy as they may currently be, will probably be happy to use their skills for the good of your establishment with the proper compensation.

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