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Social Media

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food truck tip of the day

tip of the dayYou have customers and potential customers, who are upset with your food truck as I write this. I can almost guarantee that there are far more of them than you realize and because of that you are obliviously losing out on some of their business. The only way to capture those lost customers is to realize that you’re making this easy mistake and change your behavior.

This is one of the easiest ways for a food truck to make a mistake on social media, because we typically don’t think of silence as an insult. But in a few circumstances, it’s a huge let down. Here are a few examples:

  • Ignoring Complaints – This is the obvious one. When a customer complains, they expect a response. So do your other customers. The way you respond says a lot to your audience about how they can expect to be treated.
  • Ignoring Compliments – This one’s less obvious and possibly a bigger problem. A customer who pours their heart and soul into a positive comment is likely to feel cheated if you never respond. Obviously, you can’t please everybody, but it’s good to at least be aware that this happens.
  • Ignoring Questions – When you leave a customer hanging, it can look bad, especially when it happens out in the open where other consumers can see it.

It’s impossible to please everybody, but you will save your food truck a great deal of alienation if you invest as much as you can in customer interaction. Most of them don’t understand just how busy a food truck owners is but a large minority of them will take your lack of response personally.

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Twitter Engage Followers

Yesterday we dove into the topic of finding relevant Twitter followers for your mobile food business. Today we’ll expand on that thought and discuss how to keep your new followers.

While having fantastic food coming from your service window with great service will get customers to keep coming back, the same type of strategy needs to be used when using Twitter. Your followers aren’t going to keep tracking your tweets if the content is the equivalent of an unpleasant server presenting them with bland, non-innovative food.

So how do you keep your followers coming back for more?

Tweet Interesting Content

If you are new to Twitter, this task may seem easier said than done.  Even if you aren’t an investigative journalist there are a number of ways to share interesting content? Here are some ideas.

Use Google Alerts

Set up Google Alerts to get daily email updates about all of the things that are of interest to your audience—from “vegan recipes” to “food truck industry news”—and share them through Twitter.

Share Images

Photos and videos are a proven way to engage your audience. Use photos to share your menu items or events you take part in so your food truck business will get click-throughs and comments.

You may have just come up with a great new recipe, take a picture of it and ask “what do you think?” Photos engage, especially if you tie them into a giveaway.

Engage With The Crowd

Mobile food business’ on Twitter who don’t talk to other people are significantly less engaging and less likely to get followers. Just because someone hasn’t followed you back doesn’t mean that you can’t engage them. Check out their conversations and see if you can jump in with relevant comments, or retweet some of their links.

Join The Conversation

Chances are, what is of interest to your followers is what they’re already talking about! Rather than trying to start a new discussion, why not join an existing? See what your audience is talking about and engage them in that conversation. Ask questions, answer them, retweet and respond.

Also, being part of conversations will get you in front of more people, increasing your chances of being followed.

Get involved with #chats

Anyone can start a chat on Twitter by using a hashtag. By joining the conversation at appropriate chats, you can quickly build your relevant followers; assuming you have something valuable to add!

If you’re looking to engage other local merchants, you could chime in at a chat set up by your local chamber of commerce. If you are looking to talk about the national food truck scene, please feel free to join #FoodTruckChat. Although we have been lax in operating this chat, we do plan to pick it back up shortly.

Promote Your Twitter Account Through Other Channels

Leverage the following you’ve built elsewhere by promoting your Twitter account. Talk up Twitter at your website, blog or through email.

Leverage your social media platforms

Likewise, include links (and calls to action) on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

You may be tempted to sync all of your updates and tweets together using a tool like HootSuite or TweetDeck. While there’s nothing wrong with this, use this technique cautiously.

Certain platforms may not be as “conversational” as Twitter, and if you’re already connected on Facebook and you’re syncing all of your tweets and Facebook posts, what’s the value to your fans of getting the same content on Twitter?

What do you think? What tips, tools or tactics have you been using to build your own relevant Twitter following? Share something in the comments box below and include your Twitter handle and you’ll be sure to pick up a few new followers.

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relevant twitter followers

Is Twitter working for your food truck business the way you thought it would? Are you looking to grow a larger and more relevant Twitter following for your truck?

Early on Roy Choi discovered how powerful Twitter was for finding and engaging an audience for his Kogi BBQ. Not only was it a low cost marketing tool, but the speed it delivered his message and its viral nature made it a favorite tool for advertising his next stop.

Yet when some food truck owners jump on Twitter for the first time, they wonder why they don’t get an overwhelming response to their initial tweet. Soon they learn that they must develop a following.

They see other trucks with followings of 500, 5,000 or 50,000 and they want some of that. So they head over to Google “how to get more followers on Twitter” or falling for tweets advertising different ways to buy followers.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it can be very easy to build a following on Twitter if you’re willing to try tactics such as following and un-following people, creating fake accounts that follow you and retweet everything you say or even buying followers.

Although you may be able to build up your food truck’s following quickly using these shady tactics, very few of those followers will provide your business any value.

So the basic premise of this article is to let new food truck owners know that it’s not how many followers your food truck has, but how many relevant followers you have. Having 1,000 followers who don’t respond to anything you share is equivalent to shouting from your service window and claiming that the entire city is your audience.

With that said; more engaged followers are better than fewer engaged followers. So, let’s focus on getting your food truck more engaged followers.

Building a relevant Twitter following comes down to four basic principles:

  • Find and follow prospective customers
  • Tweet content that interests your target audience
  • Engaging with your audience
  • Promote your Twitter account

Today I’ll discuss the some tips, tools and tactics to attract relevant followers on Twitter and follow up tomorrow with the other three.

Find and Follow Prospective Customers

The audience you want to be able to convert into food truck sales is out there, it’s just up to you to find them.

Build a Strong Profile

Because most people will check out your profile before following you, it is important to put your account settings in order and present your food truck business in the most engaging way possible.

Profile photo: Make sure you’re using a photo of your truck or your logo for your account. Let people know what type of business you are and what tells them more than showing off your truck.

Background Photo: Use this large area to help show potential customers what’s on your menu…show off a single item or collage of images of the food you serve.

Detailed Bio: You’ve got 160 characters, so get creative. Let people know what type of food you sell and where you sell it. If your tag line explains this and fits…use it here to keep a consistent marketing message across all media platforms.

Location: Because the food truck industry is so hyper local, make sure you include the city you operate in. If you are like most trucks and work in multiple cities or counties, put the general region and state you park your truck in. This can be the make it or break for some people to follow your mobile food business.

Third-party Tools

One of the first places to start your search for relevant people is at one of the many Twitter directories out there. Over the years a lot of these directories have come and gone but these are our favorites:

Use these tools to search your area for your ideal customers.

Leverage other Truck’s Twitter Lists

A great source for new people to connect with is other food truck’s Twitter lists. As long as the lists are made public, you are free to subscribe to them, quickly getting access to dozens or hundreds of vetted Twitter users.

Search Twitter

You can use Twitter’s search functionality to find relevant people and engage with them. For example, let’s say you are launching in Cleveland. Start by doing searches on #Cleveland #Foodtruck on Twitter.

Once you find people discussing food trucks in your area, you can join the conversation by @ (mentioning) them, answering their questions and otherwise engaging them.

Since your truck’s customers will normally be local, run a search to see if you can who’s hungry and close to your next stop. Then reach out directly to those starving members of your community on Twitter and offer them a discount or free drink if they show up to your service window and mention “Twitter” as they place their order.

For more ideas on finding and following the right people, keep an eye out on tomorrow’s follow up article.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to retweet it or add us at twitter.com/mobilecuisine.

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With over 55 million pictures shared daily and 150 million monthly active users, there’s no denying that Instagram should be part of a food truck’s social media marketing strategy. That’s a huge audience that you can tap into by using Instagram to promote your food truck.

instagram mistakes

 

Be careful though, if used improperly your Instagram account could actually hurt your mobile food business. That is, unless you avoid the five most common Instagram mistakes.

Negligent Ownership

In this way, Instagram is just like any other social media platform. There’s no point in signing up for an account if you’re not active or engaged with your followers. A neglected account just makes you and your truck look lazy. If you haven’t bothered to post a picture in months, some customers might even assume you’re closed. Remember that there are millions of pictures being posted on Instagram every day, hour, and minute. If you don’t want to be forgotten, you need to post regularly.

Repeating Content

There’s nothing wrong with some self-promotion across multiple social media platforms. But if your Instagram account is nothing more than another place to show all of the same pictures you’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter, then what’s the point? Why would anyone follow you if they follow you elsewhere and the content is the same? Be sure you’re offering something different.

Not Editing Yourself

Of course you want to show off the food you are serving, but it’s important to make sure your food actually looks good. It’s way too easy to take poor quality food photos. You want to attract customers, not make them think twice about visiting your truck.

Lack Of Engagement

Just like every social media platform we’ve covered, we are going to stress that you need to be engaging your customers. If customers post pictures that relate to your truck, like them. Follow your customers and other businesses in your community. Try hosting a photo contest.  Actually interact with your customers instead of just posting photos.

Not Having Fun With It

Instagram is a great way to show off a side of your business other platforms can’t. Be careful not to only post carefully composed shots that don’t show customers anything new. Show off what’s happening at the grocery store, at the commissary or inside the truck. Customers want to get a sense of who you really are behind the scenes.

Instagram can be a great way to engage your current and prospective customers…if you do it right. Remember these tips and you can avoid five common Instagram mistakes.

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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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Food truck owners wear many hats. Most fill the roles of CEO, CMO, CFO and Executive Chef. Inevitability, some of the tasks required to be completed in those areas will not fall into the owner’s comfort zone. Because of that we have consistently provided information and article to help those who may need a little help.

Today we’ll touch on marketing and a very basic concept within the realm of online marketing, the “call to action”.

call-to-action-button

So what is a “call to action” and what does it mean in relation to your food truck? You may recognize calls to action on websites you visit, for instance a giant button that you instinctively click to take you the desired next level of interest on that site. In regards to your own website, it may be a “Catering Reservation” button that you use as a call to action without even knowing the terminology.

Wikipedia defines a call-to-action as:

One of the most important concepts in marketing and promotion: “Call to action” (CTA) is a single focused command used after you have established you have got something good to offer, and you want the customer to act upon it. A “Call to action” is copy used in advertising to encourage a person to complete an action as defined by the advertiser.

Examples of “Call to action” words are “Click here”, “Click to download”, “Buy Now”, “Enter Now”, “Call now!”, “Bring your coupon”

So how can a food truck owner put calls to action to work in social media? How can you invite your fans and followers to dig deeper into your website without sounding like a used car salesman?

Remember, social media is not a sales gimmick tool, but a community builder. If you’re pumping out nothing but sales pitches on Twitter and Facebook, you’re not getting the most out these tools, and may in fact be turning customers away.

Let’s explore a few ways to include calls to action in your food truck’s social media efforts:

Use shortened URLs for links

Not only does this practice save valuable twitter real estate, it makes for easy reading in your tweet, and more importantly – it’s re-tweetable. There are several URL shorteners out there such as Bit.ly and TinyURL.

Link to photos

You want to tweet about your award-winning menu items, but let folks know that they’re cooked fresh daily and here’s what they look like ala minute.

You may have heard; a picture says a thousand words. Take a pic of a one of your great entrees, side dishes, or even the the sandwich board sitting outside of the truck, to put an “action shot” into your tweets and posts.

If you have a smart phone with a camera (and if you don’t…why?), you can upload on the spot, from your favorite Twitter dashboard, or Facebook.

Link to your other social media platforms

It’s possible that your followers don’t know you have a Facebook Fan Page. Tell them about it and include a link. Likewise Facebook Fans may not know you’re on Twitter. A little post with your Twitter address and message about special deals to followers will show up on all of your fans’ walls.

Have a YouTube Channel? Tweet/post about a video you just posted from a special event or cooking class you organized. Ideally you also feature your YouTube videos and Facebook ‘events’ on your website, and linking to the pages on which they live is where you want to point people with your links.

Trivia questions for prizes

Send out a tweet out once a week asking a trivia question relating to your menu, history, staff, etc. Let your followers know that the answer is buried somewhere on your website. For instance:

Q: What is the name of the sauce that accompanies <insert menu item here>?
A: <answer>

The likely ‘prize’ for the first correct response might be that specific menu item. Good will spreads good will, and customers will be talking about you and your contest. They and every other would-be winner would have dug through your online menu looking for the answer as well.

Ideally you’ll have other interesting items on your site to entice them to track down your truck even if they didn’t win that week. Making that effort a regular thing is highly recommended. Followers and fans will come to expect it.

What kind of “calls to action” are you using to promote your food truck on Twitter and Facebook?

 

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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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As a food truck owner, you tweet, you post, you share, you comment and you like, but how much influence does your truck really have online? If you’re one of the 400 million social media users with a Klout score, that question shouldn’t be hard to answer.

klout

Klout is a San Francisco-based company founded in 2009 that assesses online influence by using data from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and several other social media platforms. Each user is assigned a Klout score between one and 100. The higher your score, the more influence you’re believed to have within those networks.

While Klout has steadily gained in popularity over the past several years, there are many who still question how they compile their data. Detractors say the site’s scores (which are based on complicated, well-guarded algorithms) are arbitrary and that, in the grand scheme of social media, Klout shouldn’t count for much at all.

Others including us at Mobile Cuisine disagree. It is an important tool because almost all food truck owners market their mobile business through online networks. Klout provides a good way to quantify the amount of influence you have online.

You may still be hesitant to use Klout since most food truck marketing is targeting hyper-local markets, but in our opinion, it can’t hurt to have a tool that gives you an idea about how your online marketing is fairing.

If you are new to Klout, here are ABCs to to help improving your score:

A: Always be engaging 

Always be engaging means to engage specifically with people on a personal basis. A great place to do this is in online communities — Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Google+ Communities and Twitter chats. Consumers want a real human being to connect with them and engage with them. Social media marketing works best when you have real people connecting with real people.

B: Be consistent

It is imperative to be consistent. If you make a tweet once every six months, you’re not going to be very effective on Twitter. Similar to real life, out of sight equals out of mind. You want to show up consistently with a planned strategy for connecting and engaging with your customers.

C: Connect

Connect means that you relate to others by first listening to their needs, then responding specifically with genuine help and care. Connect also means that it’s very important to connect all of your networks to Klout. You can do this at the Klout.com website. When you add other networks to their Twitter account at Klout.com, you can see a definite increase in you Klout Score.

[Also see: Top 10 Most Influential Food Trucks: 2013]

Food truck owners typically have limited resources. This forces you to focus your limited marketing and advertising budget where it will get the most value. Targeting highly influential people makes a lot of sense. Using a tool like Klout can help food truck owners to gain a competitive advantage in their market by gaining an understanding of prospective customers.

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First, if your food truck  hasn’t made the plunge into the amazing world of Pinterest, I highly recommend you jump in. If your mobile food business is already on Pinterest, and you’re having some issues getting traction, then we have 3 awesome  tips designed to get your food truck’s Pinterest marketing up and running.

pinterest

Add A “Pin it” Button To Your Website and Menu Page 

Having a “Pin it” button directly on your website is an essential element of a successful Pinterest strategy. You want to make it as simple as possible for people to interact with your truck on social, and a “Pin it”  button allows your audience to engage and pin your content instantly. If you currently don’t have a “Pin it” button on your food truck website, keep an eye out for a future article that shows you how.

Drive A Call To Action Through Imagery

A typical call to action is text which prompts your readers to take the next action- whether it be to call your business for catering, enter a contest, join an emailing list or so forth. However, a visual call to action is the perfect way to connect with your audience via Pinterest, since the network is centered around imagery.

Focus On Quality Not Quantity

While Pinterest is certainly a popular network, you don’t want to overload your truck’s feed with too many pins (this practice is often referred to as ‘pin dumping’) and risk annoying your followers. We recommend not posting more than 5 new pins an hour. View Pinterest as a gallery where you upload your most noteworthy or popular menu items, and keep the majority of your inventory on your website.

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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.

Give Network Initiative
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