The Denver-based fast-casual chain has millions of followers — but that doesn’t stop them from going all-in with customers on social channels.

Chipotle is not only bringing in over $4 billion in revenue annually, but it has also maintained a solid and far-reaching social media approach with over 4 million followers across multiple different platforms.

How have they done it? The manager of Chipotle’s social media team, Joe Stupp, answered some questions regarding the brands success in the social world. Here’s what he has to say:

Q: “What is the No.1 way in which you use social media for Chipotle?

A: “Customer conversations. We love to talk to people. Social media provides a great opportunity to engage with customers — to address their issues, talk about the business, build relationships and the like — and we’ve found the social media universe to be really effective for that.”

Q: “When did you realize social was happening and that you’d better get on board?”

A: “Facebook forced our hand. They consolidated a bunch of unofficial fan pages in 2009 and asked us if we wanted to do something with them. We said OK. And then we started our first Twitter account then, too. At the time, we had no plan, so we had to adapt on the fly. Since then, social media has become a really important part of our overall marketing mix.”

Q: “How effective has it been in marketing/customer service/etc.?

A: “It’s been hugely effective for us from a branding perspective – a great way for us to communicate with our fans in a variety of ways and also a great way for our fans to communicate with us.”

Q: “Share a short story about when social media worked well for your company.”

A: “We had so much fun with our ” Farmed and Dangerous” series on social media, especially with the lead villain, Buck Marshall, who had his own Twitter account. Buck was the rogue top dog for IFIB, the Industrial Food Image Bureau, and he would tweet all kinds of fun, obnoxious things from his “personal” account like: “Self-sustaining? Cannibals are self-sustaining. Do we want to be cannibals?” It was great stuff.”

Q: “What’s your best insider trick?”

A: “Using our signatures (I.e. “-Joe”) in our responses to people has been a great way for us to talk to our fans. People see us as not just a huge unfeeling corporation full of robots, but rather as individuals talking to them personally, and that’s been a great thing for our social media presence in my view. We get people who ask for Rusty or Myra, and they get worried when they’re not around or on vacation. It’s great.”

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