Have you ever wondered how the biggest brands drive engagement and user generated content?

Well, it’s a strategy that food and beverage companies with even small budgets can implement. Leveraging influencer marketing for brand awareness. While a lot of you have either heard of using influencers or even dabbled in it before, today’s guest will be telling us how Qdoba has been crushing it with super creative influencer strategies to boost their sales.

Isaac Droke is the Social Media Specialist for Qdoba Mexican Eats, and he’s been slanging on social media in the fast casual space his entire career, first at Noodles and Company, and now at Qdoba.

He’s got a ton of great insights and you’ll be sure to gain a lot from this interview, including:

  • How leveraging influencers had Qdoba’s customers kissing each other on Valentines day
  • What tools Isaac uses to monitor conversations around the brand
  • How to figure out what and when you should be posting on social media
  • And a lot more.

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Alex: We’ve got Qdoba social media specialist – Isaac Droke. Welcome to the show, Isaac.

Hey! Thanks Alex. Thanks for having me.

Alex: Tell us a little bit more about how you got to your position right now.

I went to CU Boulder “Go Buffs!” and social media was always kind of in the background. At the time, back in 2008, it was definitely being used but I think people weren’t quite figuring out how to best utilize it. So it wasn’t truly really on my landscape, so I went towards the TV and broadcasting route. I got my Bachelor’s in that and actually worked for a small little TV station out in Nebraska doing that for about a year. And then figured out “Hey, maybe there’s some other ways I can kind of explore the same talent.”

That’s when I moved back to Colorado and got a job at Noodles and Company – started as their social media specialist, answering a lot of guests’ responses and doing some posts along the way. And that quickly led to a more advanced role in social media and I found my niche and went from there. And then just about six or seven months ago, I got the job at Qdoba, and have been managing and running their social media platforms ever since then. It’s been a good decision and a fun ride

Alex: From 2008 to where you are now, what are some of the bigger transitions in social media and just the way that it’s been viewed? How has that changed?

I can even start from three years ago, back when I started at Noodles. It was kind of like: “Hey, let’s just throw some posts out and let’s take pictures of some dogs, some puppies and some little kids eating noodles”. And, people liked it and there wasn’t necessarily a strategy behind it. But I think in those quick three or four years that I’ve been in the world, it’s developed into more of a strategy. It’s “How can we bringing out larger marketing goals?” and “How can we get in that conversation with our guests and the people that are in our restaurants?”

For the food industry, it’s especially awesome because people are always taking pictures of their food and putting that up on Instagram. To be able to engage in that conversation and have it more of a two-way street versus a silent room that they’re talking to is really cool. To be able to make that connection – you can see that it’s making repeat guests time and time again.

Alex: You’ve mentioned the prevalence of real-time engagement and reaching out to people who are posting about their food. Is that something that you guys do on a regular basis?

Yeah, we’re always on that. We always take the ‘always-on’ approach where we’re checking up and we’re always looking for opportunities… how can we build those people that are talking about us into brand advocates? And how can we turn them into people that are always talking about us and wanting us to get better? To look at those comments and be able to turn those into avid fans, it’s something that’s been huge for us.

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It’s all about making those unique connections with the people who are talking about you on social media.… Click To Tweet

We started a little program at Noodles, and have brought the idea on to Qdoba, of doing a fan loyalty program just on social media, so that you get the same people talking about it. You can send fans special things throughout the year, whether it’s a couple free entrée cards or cool little swag that we’ve developed. It’s all about making those unique connections with the people who are talking about you on social media.

See the full transcript and learn more about how Qdoba uses influencer marketing for brand awareness and other social media marketing strategies here.

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