This post from Social Commerce Today about Taco Bell’s recent free taco giveaway on Facebook caught my eye. Per the post:

When Taco Bell recently decided to offer its 6 million fans a free taco — no strings attached, only 3% took them up on the offer.

Chief Public Affairs Officer Jonathan Blum of Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands admitted “We haven’t even been able to give away the food, never mind figure out how to sell it online.” Bottom line for Taco Bell – ‘We haven’t figured out how to make the cash register ring with social media’.

One can argue whether or not Taco Bell’s effort can actually be considered a failure when they gave away 180,000 tacos. But as ever, the greatest value of the post comes in the comments.

The post commenters go back and forth over exactly how the promotion could have been more successful and while there are a plethora of opinions, 3 stand out amongst the chatter. And you will not be surprised to read, that these apply equally to your social media effort.

1) Manage Expectations: Both internally and externally. In Taco Bell’s case, only 3% took them up on the offer but they gave away 180,000 tacos. Success or failure? What were the expectations, either internally or

Ask yourself the same question. Adjust your own internal expectations to reach consistent, manageable goals, commensurate with reasonable results over time. And put a strategy behind who receives what and when.

2) Make it easy: Per the comments, this offer was HARD to redeem by the target audience.. I bet most of Taco Bell’s consumer base doesn’t plan out their trip to TB. They stop on an impulse, perhaps late at
night. Now who’s got a printer to print out the Free coupon at 12 midnight? And what do I care about saving $0.99 at midnight anyway?

You’ve got something that’s focused, direct and of real potential value to a prospect, but how easy is it to get into their hands? Are you making them jump through hoops or click multiple links? Understandably, you need that prospect email sign-up, but try giving it away free as well or heaven forbid, actually
use real mail.

3) Give Actual Value: Again, per the comments, There is no value to the free taco. How many people will print out the coupon, get in their car (or walk or tax the bus, etc.) to go to taco bell and just redeem the
one coupon and that’s all? It’s not worth the time and effort for the end result.

What truly constitutes value to your consumers.  Will they take precious time to look at what you’ve offered to them?

Hard to answer without a specific context, but keep your efforts targeted, drop the meaningless jargon and get to the point quickly and you’ve got your foundation.