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food truck menu on facebook

Some of you may have missed it but a few months back Facebook announced that food trucks can now upload menus through SinglePlatform from Constant Contact to Facebook pages. SinglePlatform helps mobile food businesses showcase their most important information anywhere local consumers are making decisions online.

As a result, Facebook users can both find and “like” a food truck, in addition to view its menu to help them decide if they want to track them down. Considering that nearly 80 percent of online local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, this is a major benefit to food trucks promoting their mobile food businesses to Facebook’s over 1 billion active users.

food truck menu on facebookFor food trucks that already use SinglePlatform and operate in the U.S. or Canada, their menus featured on SinglePlatform will now automatically appear on their Facebook business page. For others, food trucks can upload their menus in PDF format to their Facebook page to take advantage of this new feature. (Handy guide on how to do it)

With this update, food trucks can take advantage of the size and influence of Facebook’s audience to attract potential new customers that search for places to dine in the areas you operate. Facebook makes it very easy to find new and existing food trucks.

Now that you have added your menu to your food truck’s Facebook page, here are some tips to further leverage this feature to your mobile food business’s marketing advantage.

Sending out an email blast inviting fans and customers to check out your food truck menu on Facebook.

Let your email list subscribers (see, I told you an email list can come in handy) know to check out your menu on Facebook, giving you a good reason to connect with them and increase social media engagement on your Facebook page.

Cross-promotion of your food truck menu on Facebook on other social networks:

Promote the menu on your Facebook page with your other social networks to expand its reach to more audiences. Using a free service like bitly, you can shorten and custom-brand your URL and track your response rates.

Sharing menu updates with customers and fans:

If you have updated your Facebook menu or added a new item, let your customers and fans know about it. Doing this gives you multiple opportunities to stay connected with your Facebook page community.

Starting up conversations about your menu with your Facebook fans:

After your Facebook fans have had the chance to view your food truck menu, ask them what they think about it. Facebook’s polling feature is a useful way to garner feedback about your menu from both potential new and existing customers.

Sharing photos from Facebook on Pinterest and Instagram:

Posting your food truck menu on your Facebook page gives you more reasons to sell the menu with pictures. Post new food and drink photos from your menu on your Facebook page and cross-promote them on Pinterest and Instagram, as well.

So how many of you are already using this feature? How many of you will be posting your menu on your Facebook page to boost your social media presence? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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food truck tip of the day

Many food truck owner forays into social media yield nothing more than wasted time and effort. Before you establish your food truck Twitter account or start a Facebook page, step back and think about what messages will be relevant to your customers or potential customers.

tip of the dayOf course you want to send out your next location or your special of the day/week, but if your other communications aren’t useful or interesting to them, you might as well be tweeting into a black hole.

Start by understanding the conversations that are already happening around your food truck. Then craft messages accordingly.

Before sending anything out, ask yourself:

  • What value does this message carry for our customers?
  • What action are we hoping to inspire?

If you don’t have a clear answer to each of these questions, it’s time to return to the drawing board.

 

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When you create a Facebook account for your food truck business, you are assigned a random ID.  This used to be no big deal and probably not something a food truck owner would even think twice about.  But in today’s age of SEO it’s imperative to keep up with the ever changing digital world in order to stay on top of the competition.  Here are 3 reasons you need to claim your custom Food Truck Facebook URL as soon as possible.

Custom Food Truck Facebook URL

Marketing

You should be doing as much marketing as possible.  When you need to use your FB URL on your truck’s wrap or printed advertising, which you often should, you don’t want it to say, facebook.com/pages/My-Food-Truck-Name/909442628111.  It just doesn’t look right and nobody is going to take the time to write down or copy that lengthy behemoth.  Changing it to facebook.com/MyFoodTruckName is much easier on the eyes and something that will not only help your branding efforts, but make it much easier for people to refer others to your page.

Competition

Chances are you aren’t the only person out there who has thought of “My Food Truck Name” for a food truck name.  While this may keep you from claiming the domain, MyFoodTruckName.com, you may still have a shot at claiming it on Facebook as, facebook.com/MyFoodTruckName.  So get online and do it!

Search Engine Optimization

The search engines, like Google, place a high value on URL’s when determining rankings.  If your URL isn’t exact match, or very similar, for what you’d like to be found for, (such as My Food Truck Name), you aren’t going to rank very well.  By claiming that exact match URL you have a great shot at ranking highly for your mobile food business Facebook page.

Now that you understand why it’s so necessary to claim a custom URL, here is how you do it:

NOTE: You only get to make this change once so watch for typos before you save the change.

  1. Login to Facebook under your administrator account for your food truck business page.
  2. Go to your Facebook business page.  (be sure you’re signed in as your food truck page and not your personal profile)
  3. Click “Edit Page” at the top right.
  4. Click “Basic Information” on the left sidebar.
  5. Change the username to your liking.

After you change the username, you should be able to see the new Facebook url in your browser’s address bar like this:  facebook.com/MyFoodTruckName.

Here’s a few more tips for changing your Food Truck’s Facebook username and getting the most benefit from it:

  • Make it short.
  • Make it memorable.
  • It should match the common name of your food truck or be very similar.
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word to make it more readable.
  • No spaces or special characters. Only a-z and 0-9 are allowed.
  • Double and triple check for errors before you save because, YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT.

Bonus Tip: Try to match your FB food truck username to your Twitter, YouTube and any other social media usernames. Consistency helps with branding.  Also, if the name you want is already taken, just choose the next best option and something that still closely represents your brand.  The goal is to have your food truck’s name in there and have it match (as closely as possible) to the actual name.

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Ok, so the title may get food truck owners thinking that this article is going to explain why your website needs to be replaced with a Facebook business page. Well, not so fast.

Facebook-vs-Website

Even though a study from Lab42 last year indicated that 50% of people prefer a business’s Facebook Page rather than its Web Site you almost certainly still need both.

What is the most interesting part of this survey and the other findings is that half of the respondents do indeed prefer going to a Business Facebook Page than to a company Web Site. It’s just another reason why that every food truck business needs to get in the game with social media.

Some other findings from the study are interesting but may not be that accurate. Examples include the following:

1. People expect some promotions and discounts in return for liking a brand. We think this is more of a survey biased response than the real motivation. Sure – everybody likes a deal but this is not a n absolute. Depending on how the question was asked this would likely be a natural first response. Important – sure. Critical – no.

2. The vast majority (over 80%) “Like” a business page to communicate with the business. This one makes sense. People know that good businesses listen to customers and act on the two-way communication that social media enables.

3. The #1 reason to “Unlike” a business page is due to frequent posting. So this conflicts, somewhat, with #1 because a lot of businesses post specials and deals but if that is all you do you could be hurting yourself. Especially if you post deals too frequently.

So what’s the best approach for food truck owners?

Think of social media as a conversation with your customers. Listen, ask good questions and provide some value. Not just a discount or promotion on one of your menu items but tips and advice or even feature a customer or two. And don’t talk too much either. Keep the posts at a reasonable level  – outside of posting your next parking location.

Finally remember the key point – 50% of customers or more are looking for you on Facebook  and that is a big deal! So make sure you are in the game.

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tip of the dayWhen it comes to social media, food truck owners should become a master of one or two platforms rather than flounder in many.

When you look at all of your various social media options, a good way to break them down is into social platforms vs. social networking sites.

Social platforms are like soapboxes; they allow you to establish your expertise and credibility, but provide a method for feedback and discussion. (i.e. blogging, YouTube or pod casting.

Social networks are more like a real-world networking event. Think about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and possibly Pinterest.

Since food trucks are considered B2C (business to consumer), it’s beneficial to choose work in the social networks first to focus on initially, and really develop a deep engagement level with your ideal customers there. As you master those channels, you can then start to expand into other realms.

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When the head chef of a local restaurant in Oxfordshire, England was fired a week before Christmas, he wasted little time before heading to Twitter to share his anger with the situation. Unfortunately for the restaurant, he still had access to the company’s twitter account and decided to use the brand’s platform to share his story.

In just 7 tweets, chef Jim Knight’s rant gained nearly 12 000 retweets and 3500 favorites — an incredible number for the otherwise quiet Twitter account. To make matters worse, the tweets are still viewable, as the disgruntled chef was the only member of the restaurant that had access to the social media profile.

fired chef twitter

Many mobile food vendors don’t know exactly who has access to their Facebook and Twitter passwords, and if you don’t keep a tight rein on access info, you could be leaving yourself at risk.Whether your food truck is an organization of 2 employees or 25 you can never be too careful when it comes to the security and protection of your brand’s image.

Here are three ways to keep your organization’s social accounts safe and secure.

  • Verify who the Administrators of your Facebook Page are, and remove everyone who no longer needs access (do this NOW).
  • Change your Twitter password if you’ve ever shared it, and keep a log of who knows the new password so you can always be sure who has access to your account.
  • And finally, if you do ever have to fire an employee who has had access to your social media accounts, change the password BEFORE you talk to them!

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tip of the day“How can I get 10,000 fans on my Food Trucks’s Facebook Page?”

“My competitor has 2,500 followers on Twitter – how can I get to that number?”

Valid questions, but they miss the point of social media marketing. Social media marketing is about building relationships, sharing information and resources, all the while establishing credibility and customers for your food truck brand.

There are services where you can purchase fans and followers – but what value does that really provide? Most of these accounts are spam-bots who will never step up to your service window or visit your website.

Focus your energies on the customers and followers that you DO have – they are your best brand ambassadors!

Ask your Facebook fans to share your stories and photos; ask your Twitter followers to “RT – ReTweet” your content. Then acknowledge and thank them when they do.

Focus on the fans and followers you have, not on what you don’t have, and you will see your online community grow and thrive!

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Are Facebook hashtags useful in accelerating your food truck post’s viral reach? A recent study by Facebook analytics service EdgeRank Checker states that posts with hashtags do not have as great of reach than those without.

facebook hashtag

Hashtag support is relatively new for Facebook as it copied this feature from Twitter in June to help users add context and discover shared interests. EdgeRank Checker’s study examined more than 500 Pages in July to see whether hashtags were used. Of those Pages, there were more than 35,000 posts, of which at least 6,000 contained hashtags.

Here’s what the research firm’s assumption was:

If people see an object in the news feed with a hashtag they’re interested in, they will click the hashtag to discover more interesting content related to the particular hashtag. Brands that talk about trending hashtags may receive additional exposure due to other Pages using hashtags because their Page may show up unexpectedly.

Based on the results of its study, hashtags on Facebook posts resulted in less viral reach, specifically that there was a decrease in the amount of engagement per fan and wasn’t affected by the size of the fan base — there’s no correlation that the more fans you have, the greater the positive impact on a brand’s engagement.

You can read EdgeRank Checker’s full study report here.

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With new social media sites popping up all over the internet, it can be overwhelming to food truck owners to figure out which to focus their time and energy on. Based off a recent survey we conducted from our readers, the top four social media sites that food truck customers use are: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

social media sphereFacebook

After Myspace, Facebook took control of social media and has not let go. 67% of internet users visit Facebook regularly so you’ll want to start here.

Beneficial Features:

About section. Publish a full biography including contact information about your food truck.

Large images. Facebook’s platform is great for posting pictures. Take a snapshot of your daily special or fun events your truck has taken part in.

Advertise. Facebook Ads allow you to target your specific demographic while also setting a specific budget.

Twitter

Next in line is Twitter. Quick and to the point. Reach out and communicate with others in real time. While Facebook may be used for many of the same purposes, Twitter is much quicker.

Beneficial Features:

Break the news. Let your followers know where you are heading when it happens. Twitter is instantaneous and will reach your followers faster than any other social networks.

Get feedback. Twitter is also a great place to get feedback and learn about your customers.

Utilize hashtags. Hashtags (commonly known as the pound sign) on Twitter are a great system to take advantage of. Using hashtags will increase the reach of your tweet and also increase the chances of your tweet being seen.

Pinterest

Like it? Then pin it! Pinterest is a great way to tell your story using pictures. Pinterest allows you to collect, organize and pin pictures to boards.

Beneficial Features:

Organize. Pinterest allows you to organize your photos into similar groups called “boards.” This allows you to “build” a message, theme or group similar photos together.

Get customer’s mouths watering. Food trucks using Pinterest can organize a page by posting enticing photos with brief descriptions about menu items. This can also include recipes to popular items.

Go beyond food. Your food truck should be about more than just food. Feature boards that tell your brand story, values and mission.

Instagram

Pictures speak a thousand words – and Instagram is the poor man’s photography studio. Instagram gives users the ability to apply different filters to photos. There are no groups or “boards” like with Pinterest, however, Instagram is easily integrated into Facebook and Twitter, giving pictures extra exposure on the different social networks.

Beneficial Features:

Customers. Featuring customers enjoying their meals, or sharing images that customers have taken of your truck are a great way to draw attention to your mobile food business.

Show your atmosphere. Show pictures of the atmosphere around your truck. You can show actual customers enjoying a dining experience or even the fun they are having while waiting to order. The filters provided by Instagram will allow you to spruce it up a bit.

Aesthetics. You don’t necessarily have to show pictures related to your food. What’s the atmosphere like around your truck? What about the scenery of the areas you park in?

Remember social media is a great way advertise. Follow some of these tips and utilize them to increase followers and customers. But don’t be afraid to be creative and innovative. Also, remember most social media sites can be synced together and it’s alright if some of your pages overlap.

Which social media sites are you using that aren’t listed here?

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Some food trucks have mastered the art of Facebook marketing; others, not so much. As with any social media platform, there are rules by which you should follow.

facebook etiquette

On this Facebook, there’s one protocol for your mobile business and another for your individual pages. The tips below land somewhere in between and apply to both groups:

Stop asking people to”like” your updates. A few years ago, it was common to see posts that started with “Like this post if…” Sadly, it’s still common. Create great content and people will “like” it.  

Don’t overpost. Quite simply, if you clog up news feeds, people are going to hide, unsubscribe, and even”unlike” your food truck’s page.

The same goes for your personal page. Obviously, we’re all free to give our friends as many updates about our lives as we want, but you should beware of the consequences.

Don’t neglect spelling and grammar. Sure, everyone uses abbreviated language popular in texting and everyone makes the occasional typo. But no one likes wading through posts that have so many typos and abbreviations that they may as well be written in a foreign language. If you have something important enough to say that you want to share it with all of your Facebook friends, it’s worth making the effort to write it out clearly.

Keep the hashtags to a minimum. We’re not exactly sure how hashtags are affecting brand engagement on Facebook yet. But we suggest that you make sure your hashtags are relevant and not excessive.

When a crisis strikes, Keep quiet. We’ve dedicated entire posts to this, but there’s no reason food trucks should post when national/global tragedy strikes. Sending”thoughts and prayers” to the people in the affected area also feels a little thin. A better technique would be to offer your audience a way to help in the form of donations, etc.

Keep it positive. This one goes for the personal and the business page side. As much as you want to rant on your page, consider your audience and whether they’re really interested in hearing you.

Ask yourself: Are we sharing this content because it serves us or our audience?

No one wants to visit your brand’s mobile unfriendly Facebook tab. No one.

When there’s a PR issue on your page, the worst thing to do is stay silent. So often, food truck owners will shut down all Facebook communication when they’re facing any kind of backlash. You’re only going to exacerbate the problem by staying silent. Respond, even if it’s just along these lines: “We hear you. We’re working on it.”

Personalize your reply to people who take the time to contact you. Whether it’s a direct message or a comment, the response should never be rote. Seldom does a “Thanks!” suffice. Every person who comments on your page represents an opportunity for a personal connection. Make that connection special, and you’re food truck will have a fan for life.

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