How Chipotle Used Social Listening to Turn Things Around

Kimberly Surico |
 05/25/16 |
2 min read


Restaurant brands can be forgiven for thinking “Better them than me” during the recent Chipotle E. coli and norovirus outbreaks. Such brand crises can be devastating – especially with social media fanning the flames.

This morning at 10:00 AM PT we’ll talk about what Chipotle could have done differently, and how all brands can better manage crises during the webinar Measuring the Success of Chipotle’s Crisis Response on Social Media, co-hosted by the American Marketing Association.

Consumer sentiment predicts the coming storm

One reason brands find themselves so deeply immersed in a crisis is reacting too late to a clear and present threat. If you only apply social monitoring after an issue devolves to crisis level, you may be too late to save your brand’s reputation.

You can’t react to something that hasn’t happened yet, of course, but you can be alerted to the first warning sign that something is brewing – and that’s the time to take action. The webinar will cover how failing to react quickly enough cost Chipotle, and what they could have done instead.

Social monitoring is the eye of the tornado

Real-time social analytics offer the only safe haven once a crisis does erupt. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, but you can regain control through messaging and appropriate interactions with both advocates and detractors.

Knowing what consumers were saying was crucial for Chipotle to contain the crisis, and keep misinformation from spreading virally. Understanding consumer passion is crucial here – as the most enthusiastic negative voices are the ones that cause the most damage, while the most positive voices offer the most support.

It’s also important to know when not to jump into the fray. If there’s enough positive conversation in the mix, and your influencers are still on board, you might only make matters worse by chiming in just as things are calming down.

Tracking how the conversation evolves is vital to knowing when to act, and when to lay low. We’ll share what Chipotle did and how it worked.

Picking up the pieces

Brands may breathe a sigh of relief once a crisis is past, but the lessons should stick: social monitoring is an all-the-time need, and early detection of consumer issues is your best defense.

Some crises have longer tails than others, and continued social listening and sentiment monitoring let you know whether you’re in the clear, or still have work to do to regain consumer trust. Free burritos were a win on Chipotle’s part, helped by the loyal fan base they’d built up prior to the outbreaks. But the cost of the crisis was still high.

We’ll discuss more in-depth how the brand is recovering, and how your brand can enjoy lasting brand health by being proactive with social listening during the webinar Measuring the Success of Chipotle’s Crisis Response on Social Media. Register now and we’ll see you at 10:00 AM PT today!

Can’t join us? We’ll give you a personal demo of how social listening in real-time can help your brand – just ask!

Image from Mike Mozart

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