A few consumers’ beef with Taco Bell this week offered some red meat to the blogosphere.

The conversation about the restaurant’s beef, spurred by a class-action lawsuit, seemed ready-made for viral media. The suit claims that Taco Bell misrepresents the contents of its beef; The restaurant calls it “seasoned ground beef” or “seasoned beef,” although the product contains 88% beef.

A list of the “Top Five Reasons Taco Bell Might Actually Be More Dangerous Than MTV’s Skins” got good play on Digg. A photo of a label from Taco Bell describing “Taco Meat Filling” also lit up the Twittersphere.

Faced with a social media crisis, Taco Bell is now fighting back via its Facebook Page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. So far, though, the company hasn’t gotten a lot of traction.

Yesterday, the fast food chain uploaded a video on YouTube of company president and chief concept officer Greg Creed explaining that the chain’s beef is “100% USDA inspected” and that the beef is seasoned with various spices and water “to provide Taco Bell’s signature taste and texture.”

Creed then tackles the somewhat ominous-sounding statistic that Taco Bell’s beef is actually composed of 88% beef. “So what’s the other 12%?” Creed asks puckishly. “It’s our secret. And I’m gonna give it to ya.” The rundown: 3% is water, 4% is Mexican spices and the remaining 5% is oats, caramelized sugar, yeast and other ingredients that he lists in the video.

Unfortunately for Taco Bell, only about 1,000 people have seen that video on YouTube. On Facebook, the video got more than 900 “likes,” but the reviews were a bit mixed. “Don’t B.S. us,” says one commenter. “We know that there is real beef in the taco, but you use some filler.” Says another: “Like y’all would come out and say, ‘We’ve just been caught.’” Meanwhile, Taco Bell’s Twitter feed, which has 45,000 followers, is more of a lovefest.

If this whole incident sounds a bit familiar, it may be because Domino’s faced a similar, albeit more damaging crisis in 2009 and pioneered the use of the company president mea culpa via YouTube.

Marsha Horowitz, the senior executive vice president and head of crisis communications for public relations firm Rubenstein Associates, says that Taco Bell had no choice but to respond via social media. “By coming out aggressively, it makes them appear that they feel very confident,” Horowitz says. On the other hand, there’s no escaping the truth that what the USDA calls beef and what the average person considers beef are two different things. “We’re learning this, but Taco Bell’s not the only one doing it,” Horowitz says.

The use of social media to address a public relations crisis is fairly new, but brands like Taco Bell are learning. Last year, Toyota’s adept use of social media helped counter potentially devastating news reports about recalls. In fact, it may have even helped the brand.

Will Taco Bell fare similarly? Horowitz says despite the low pickup rate in social media to Taco Bell’s response, the brand is already over the hump. “They took the lemons they were handed and made lemonade,” says Horowitz. “Or maybe they took bland beef and turned it into a spicy burrito.”

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