Chipotle Hack: Social Media Fail or Social Media Brilliance?

Last Sunday, Chipotle’s Twitter followers were entertained by what appeared to be either an accident, a hack, or both. Chipotle tweeted 12 seemingly random tweets all within 48 minutes. Many tuned in to what seemed to be a major social media fail.

However, Chipotle admitted to orchestrating the hack, making it more of a publicity stunt: “We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that.” Chipotle has certainly not been the only company to orchestrate something like this. MTV and BET both faked their own hacks in February, as a means to promote their upcoming award shows.

Chipotle’s stunt undeniably caught the internet’s attention. But was it worth it? We took a look at a Simply Measured Twitter Account Report to find out.

Chipotle Engagement Chart

Chipotle’s engagement surged the day of the “hack.” They peaked with 453% more engagement than their daily average, which resulted in the most engaging week in the past 2 months. Our follower, @AdamBritten mentioned that, “@ChipotleTweets has strong daily interaction, so that says something…” And he is definitely right. Chipotle averages far more engagement than its competitors, like Baja Fresh and Qdoba.

Total Twitter Account Followers

Chipotle benefitted in other ways aside from the spike in engagement. The day after the “hack,” Chipotle added nearly 5k followers, 308% more new followers than its daily average. Chipotle created enough of a stir to encourage people not only tune in to the stunt, but to also follow them after the dust settled.

Competitive Leaderboard Chart

Chipotle’s “hack” only furthered the gap between them and their competitors. In an average week, Baja Fresh, Qdoba and Chipotle average about 500 new followers per week. However, this week, Chipotle added 10,000.

Chipotle’s marketing technique gave them spikes in followers and engagement, giving them more opportunities to promote their contest, #Adventurrito. Despite a mixed reaction of social media users and critics, the data declares Chipotle a winner.

Well played Chipotle, well played.

Jade Furubayashi

Jade Furubayashi

My name's Jade and I'm a social media addict from Seattle, WA. I'm the Community Manager at Simply Measured, so my job is basically to talk to you fine people everyday- which is awesome. Aside from that, my favorite things are dogs, tacos and Beyoncé.

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  • http://twitter.com/rjamestaylor rjamestaylor

    I believe this worked well for Chipotle due to execution and public sentiment towards Chipotle.

    First, it wasn’t done in imitation of a malicious attack (unlike the MTV stunt); it was done in the style of someone who was authorized to use the corporate account but was careless. Self-deprecation is funny; crying wolf isn’t.

    Second, the tweets were benign and while relevant to the account holder we’re promotional.

    Third, the duration was short.

    This could have gone wrong, quickly. It’s also dangerous to be disingenuous with one’s customers, even in jest. Obviously, Chipotle has goodwill with the community in that this didn’t incur backlash about their integrity. Good to know general sentiment prior to attempting a stunt!

    Lastly, this won’t ever work again for Chipotle or anyone else. Don’t try it.

  • raghuhavaldar

    social media is yet another tool used by marketing albeit a powerful, all consuming, and very direct, engaging one. This shows any press is good press!

  • Kevin Hillstrom

    Did Chipotle sell more food? Seems like that might be a good and useful data point – marketing tactics that work do so because they cause more customers to buy stuff, or they cause existing customers to buy more. We all have an opportunity to prove that marketing tactics lead to sales and profit increases.