How Chipotle Mexican Grill leverages memes on social media

Fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is a pioneer in meme marketing, having incorporated memes into its social media strategies since mid-2018. Instagram is Chipotle’s No. 1 channel for memes, and they account for up to half of its content on the platform. But Chipotle is an experienced memer, and for brands that are just beginning to experiment in the space, most experts we spoke with said that less is more.

We spoke with Candice Beck, senior manager of social and digital at Chipotle, about how the brand uses memes in its social media marketing today.

How do memes factor into Chipotle’s social media marketing?

Currently, we use memes in our day-to-day content as well as paid social media. We think about memes as a way to both relate to our customers and tap into specific insights, sometimes even trolling ourselves. We also use memes for social listening as a way to unlock new insights.

Who’s responsible for creating the memes you use on social media?

Our in-house team works hand in hand with our social media agency, Day One Agency, to create original memes or repurpose meme content in a way that’s specific to Chipotle. Sometimes our fans communicate our message better than we can, and in those cases, we repost their content on our platforms.

What are your major social platforms for memes?

Most often, our memes are on Instagram. You might catch a few on Facebook, and since those are rare, unexpected sightings, they often perform really well. On TikTok, we’ve tested some meme-like content, using in-app text to make it feel more native to that channel.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your meme strategy?

Post engagement is how we measure its effectiveness at a high level, including shares, which are visible in our reporting. Sharing content with friends via DMs [direct messages] or in an Instagram Story is the most personal way a user can engage with meme content. It’s like an endorsement directly from that user. Reposts by top meme accounts are also indicative of funny, relatable content. That’s always a big win for us.