Its tagline is “Inspired Burritos,” but local restaurant chain Boloco has much more than just inspired food to brag about. The company’s Twitter presence is hard not to notice, constantly engaging burrito-lovers and even burrito-dissenters in 140-character bites. So, who’s the face behind @boloco? We had the chance to sit down with Cassidy Quinn Brettler, Boloco’s Social Media Diva, to discuss how social media and burritos truly go hand-in-hand.
Describe yourself. What’s your background?
I’m a burrito-loving twenty-something who spends most – if not all – of her time on social media. I’m obsessed with tweeting, Facebooking and making YouTube videos. I graduated from Emerson College in May, and studied broadcast journalism and acting. I moved back home to Seattle for the summer, but thanks to my love of social media and burritos, I ended up back here in Boston!
Describe your day-to-day.
As “@boloco,” there’s a constant flow of tweets coming in mentioning us, people talking about our food, tweeting about their check-ins to Boloco on foursquare, asking us questions and anything else you’d expect in the Twittersphere. So that happens all day. When I’m not tweeting (and when people aren’t tweeting at us), I respond to reviews of Boloco on Yelp, post pictures and other updates on our Facebook page and field a never-ending influx of emails containing donation and sponsorship requests, marketing proposals, etc. We also just started our new YouTube channel, so a lot of my average Boloco day is spent editing videos of events and other things that we’ve been up to!
Describe some of Boloco’s goals and initiatives with their social media. Why and how are you using social media to accomplish your goals?
Our mission at Boloco is to positively impact the lives of our people through bold and inspired food and practices. Our social media activity definitely contributes to the “bold practices” aspect of making that happen. Social media gives businesses the chance to hear feedback from customers in real time and have a dialogue with them. If someone tweets about their burrito not containing the guacamole they paid for, we respond as soon as we can, offering to put a freebie on their Boloco card. If someone tweets or posts on our Facebook page that they received good or bad service, we pass along that information to the restaurants and operations teams, to make sure we learn from our mistakes (and then, of course, we give the guest a freebie for letting us know). If someone gives us a 1-star review on Yelp, saying they hated the food in our restaurant, we respond and offer then a freebie to try something else on our menu, on us. When we put up our first YouTube video, we said the first 100 people to comment giving us (good or bad) feedback would get a freebie, so within minutes of posting it, we starting receiving tons of feedback, feedback that will help us make more videos our guests like in the future! A lot of this revolves around freebies… are you sensing a trend?
How do you consistently interact and engage your followers?
Luckily, we’re based in a huge city, where there’s always things going on. So if there’s nothing big going on in the Boloco world one day, there’s surely something going on in Boston and in New England as well. And most big events can be related back to Boloco, burritos, and/or food. For example, when the iPhone 4S was announced, and a lot of Apple fans were disappointed that the iPhone 5 wasn’t announced as expected, we created the iBurrito 5 and worked our tinfoil arts & crafts skills as quick as we could to create and post something our fans would (hopefully) enjoy. Sometimes we post things happening in the office (like the kids’ menu tasting we did last week), or pictures of events we’re working at (like the BAA Half Marathon). We’re big sports fans too, and we know a lot of Bostonians are as well, so we post about Boston sports teams when they play. And we like to ask a lot of questions, because it’s always fun to hear what our guests think!
How do you measure ROI from Twitter?
It’s obviously very hard to quantify the ROI of something like Twitter, since there’s no way to tell exactly how much and what kind of impact each tweet has. But we do know we gain loyal fans through our responsiveness and engagement. Twitter allows us to fix issues that might not otherwise be fixed. By allowing guests to give us real-time feedback, we hear right away when someone leaves our restaurant unhappy. Then we can give them a real-time response, giving us the opportunity to fix the problem and gain loyalty that we otherwise wouldn’t have from that guest. It makes those people (hopefully) come back, because they leave happy instead. The one area where we have been able to measure ROI on some level is when we “accelerate” traditional advertising (of which we do very little) by taking a picture of the ad and posting it on Facebook and Twitter. Where we would typically get 300-400 redemptions of the offer on the ad when just placed in the print magazine/newspaper, we often got 3-4x that figure when we accelerated it through social media, meaning we still paid the same advertising cost for a much greater reach.
Where do you tweet from? What’s homebase?
My homebase is my desk in the Boloco marketing office/room in the photo. I always have 2 computers set up – my work PC and my personal Mac (for video editing, mainly). But since Twitter is so mobile, I also tweet from all over the place! On the T, at home, in my bed, at events, inside Boloco stores… you name it, we’ve probably tweeted there! Our CEO, John Pepper, chimes in from all over the country, from airplanes with wi-fi, even from board meetings (which he has gotten in trouble for).
What’s your favorite part of tweeting for a corporate handle?
My favorite part is the free burritos! Just kidding… My favorite part is being able to make people happy in only 140 characters. Free food and having your voice being taken seriously can go a long way towards making a person’s day (mine included), so being allowed and encouraged to give out freebies to guests who reach out to us online is a lot of fun. I used to be on the other side of Boloco’s social media – I used to tweet at (and eat at) Boloco ALL the time! And if Boloco ever responded giving me a free menu item, I was ecstatic. It’s my hope that I can make people ecstatic now that I’m on this side of it!
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is knowing that I can’t make everyone happy. As much as I try to make people happy, by giving out freebies, responding to everyone’s tweets and posts, etc., it’s still not possible to please every single person. There’s always going to be people who don’t like my tweets, who don’t like when we try something different and change what we post about, who click the thumbs down on our YouTube videos, or who just don’t like our food. Sometimes it’s hard not to take that stuff personally, but the reality is, it’s just not possible for every person to like everything we do. I’m starting to come to terms with that…
Do you respond to every single @-reply or mention?
Yes! That’s our goal. While there might be the occasional tweet that slips through the cracks, we try to respond to every tweet within 24 hours, and often immediately. That includes @ replies, search results for “Boloco,” DMs, and tweeted foursquare check-ins.
What’s the craziest @ reply/DM you’ve ever gotten?
One time a guest tweeted that they wished the restaurant they were in would turn the music down. Our CEO saw the tweet (while traveling up in NH), called the restaurant, they turned the music down and delivered a free cookie to the blown-away guest. That example has now even been cited in a book, The Thank You Economy, as an example of the power of social media to improve an in-person experience more so than walking up to the cashier might have yielded. The truly craziest ones drop f’bombs and the like which likely shouldn’t be discussed here!
What’s the craziest thing you (or Boloco) has done for a customer as a result of a tweet?
A guest and frequent Boloco tweeter had some sauce drip on her Tom’s shoes earlier this year. Our CEO immediately got the size and model and ordered new ones. We’ve hand delivered burritos to people who randomly share that they are craving a Buffalo Chicken or a Nutella Shake! I guess the fact that I was hired in large part because of my Tweets is pretty crazy too!
Any advice for businesses looking to build up their social media?
Just go for it. I think some businesses are scared to commit to social media because they don’t know if it will work, or if they’ll be able to keep up with it. Well, if you start a Twitter account today, you’re one step ahead of where you were yesterday. If you respond to one tweet tomorrow, that’s one more than you responded to today. The key is just to start going. It’s only 140 characters, so just get online and take a risk – it doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Oh, and find your company’s voice. If Boloco was a human being, he or she obviously wouldn’t be super-corporate, high-strung, and serious – so neither is our social media presence. Our goals are 100% honest, not to take ourselves too seriously, and be a bit off-center (ie. not boring!). You have to figure that out for your business before you start posting!