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Social Media

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food truck tip of the day

When something is new, it’s human nature to treat it like a chore. Chores are often time-consuming and not fun. While I know on weekend mornings, it really only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to vacuum the house, however, the idea of doing it becomes daunting.

If this is how you look at social media for your food truck business, of course it is going to feel overly time consuming and like a chores. You may even figure you just don’t have time for it. However, if you think of it like speaking with your customers at your truck, you will be ready and happy to add it to daily your routine.

Do you already take the time to make sure customers understand your everything involved in preparing your menu items? Do you consider that something you don’t have time for?

Maybe on busy days you do not feel like you have the time; regardless, you still understand the value. Same principle, different audience. Both are your customers.

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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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Food Truck Social Media Policy

Developing a food truck social media policy is no longer an option for members of the mobile food industry. The Internet has changed the way individuals, including your employees; communicate with each other and the rest of the world.

Social media has been part of food truck life since Roy Choi sent out his first Tweet. You need to realize that with this technology, what goes on in your food truck could end up being exposed to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people online.

Take the New York City food truck twitter fiasco from last year. A food truck employee sent out an angry tweet to a corporate account who neglected to tip on a large order. The tweet was discussed nationally and seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers virtually overnight.

This was an instant public relations nightmare for the food truck to say the least and should have sent shock waves felt by every food truck vendor about what “could” happen to them.

Social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are here to stay so what should a food truck owner do? The first step is to create a food truck social media policy is to establish reasonable set of standards of workplace behavior regarding social networking and online use and then communicate those expectations to your employees.

What Your Food Truck Social Media Policy Should Cover

Your mobile food business should have guidelines that apply to your employees’ use of social media, both on and off duty that addresses issues such as:

  • Publishing personal information about themselves, other employees, your business and your customers in a public medium
  • Use of company accounts for personal use
  • Use of the food truck logos or trademarks
  • Complying with confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary information (recipes, operational secrets, etc.)

If you decide to adopt a food truck social media policy, all employees should sign a copy of the policy and be trained in its meaning. The best way to do this might be to hold a mandatory staff meeting and discuss it with a question and answer session.

A sensible food truck social media policy, effectively communicated to your food truck staff, will go a long way toward addressing the risks and preventing damage to your food truck’s brand in today’s online world.

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instagram food truck account

You might already have an Instagram account for your food truck. If you don’t, outside of the over 60 million photos shared daily and it being one of the most popular social media platforms, in the past we’ve provided reasons why your food truck should have an Instagram account.

Not only can it help you grow your mobile food business… if you use it correctly. If you think your account could use some clean up and/or tender loving care, check out our quick tips to improve your presence on the Instagram platform.

Use photos of more than food

If you’re running your food truck kitchen properly your food looks great, and you want to show it off to customers. But if picture after picture simply showcases plates full of food, there is a good chance your customers will end up getting bored. It’s important to take pictures of things other than food. Consider posting pictures of your staff members, your truck’s awesome wrap, promotions, and more. This will show your personality and makes your feed a lot more interesting.

Ask questions

Just like any other social media platform, it’s important to engage your customers and encourage them to share. One way you can do this is by asking questions and getting your customers to post their photos. You could ask customers to share images of them eating your food, or something as random as a picture of something they wish you had on your menu. This will get your followers involved in more than looking at your photos.

Don’t use crappy photos

Of course, this should go without saying, but it’s extra important: make sure your photos showcase your food truck’s brand. Poor food photos won’t get you more followers or encourage anyone to track down your truck to wait in line for something that looks unappetizing. You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional photographer, but you do need to make sure your truck and your food look great.

Use hashtags

Never forget about the power of the hashtag. Just like they work on Twitter and more recently on Facebook, hashtags can help your customers find you. For example, let’s say your food truck is based in Phoenix. By hashtagging your photo with #Phoenix or #PHX, anyone searching for that tag (including potential customers) will come across your photos.

Offer deals

Hey here’s an interesting twist…promotions! Give your current and prospective customers a reason to follow you. Sharing photos is great, but make sure your customers are also getting something. A recent trend I’ve noticed is trucks that share photos of their new promotions or share discount codes. If customers know they’ll be the first to find out about new deals, they’ll be more likely to follow you.

Instagram can be a great way to build business and increase sales, but only if you use it right! By using this guide, you can improve your food truck’s Instagram account immediately.

If you have any Instagram tips you’d like to share, please feel free to add them to the comment section below.

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food truck tip of the day

I’ve recently noticed that many food trucks tend to forget the word “social” in social media. They may post location updates on Facebook or compose tweets on Twitter, but they don’t progress further than that. They never take the time to read the replies or actively engage by responding to their followers. Ultimately this is the reverse of what social media is all about and every food truck vendor should take full advantage of the many social media platforms at their disposal.

If the number of social media platforms stresses you out…instead, focus on your customers and learn how to engage with them more effectively. Significant time is spent on researching how to use various social media tools, but understanding your customers and how they react on social media will be more beneficial to your mobile food business in the long run.

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Social Surge Crowd Speaking

Mobile Cuisine is happy to announce the launch of our new crowd speaking portal Social Surge. Social Surge is a new mobile food industry social media amplifier that allows new and existing food truck owners, food truck event promoters as well as anyone hoping to help the mobile food industry with a product or service to boost up their social media message.

Social Surge is a service that lets your supporters sign up to essentially donate their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds to your cause, releasing a flood of tweets and Facebook status updates at a predetermined time.

The best thing about Social Surge is that it taps into the social media communities that you and your customers are already part of. The service is easy to use, free, and only generates tweets and posts from users who opt-in.

So who might have use of Social Surge?

  • A prospective food truck owner getting ready to launch a crowd funding campaign.
  • A new food truck owner getting ready to hit the streets of your community.
  • An existing food truck owner with a new menu item or concept you plan to roll out.
  • An existing food truck owner who is getting ready to release their first cookbook.
  • A food truck owner who is preparing to grand open your new brick and mortar location.
  • A food truck owner trying to spread the word about a cause you support.
  • A bar owner who is going to have a food truck provide the food for your patrons in the future.
  • An event promoter who wants to get the word out about your future food truck event.
  • A food truck association trying to get a message sent to a local politician.
  • A food truck association trying to get a petition signed.
  • A software developer working on a new food truck application.

These are just some of the projects Social Surge can be used for. If you’ve got an idea that you think can work for a SocialSurge – give it a try. There are numerous ways to reach your support goals…

You can even embed your campaign on your website to help gain enough traction to tip it over your support goal.

While Social Surge may be similar to other crowd-speaking platforms, we are the first to specifically target the mobile food industry. Over the past 4 years, Mobile Cuisine has been the complete online resource destination for the mobile food industry and by adding services such as Social Surge we plan to maintain that designation.

Head Over To Social Surge To Amplify Your Social Media Campaign Now!

Have questions about using a Social Surge effectively for your mobile food industry campaign? Feel free to contact us at socialsurge@mobile-cuisine.com

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Social Media Strategy

Does your food truck have a social media strategy? Not sure what a social media strategy consists of? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Social media is one of the most important areas of the mobile food industry that gets neglected by food truck vendors. Nearly all of the new food trucks that have come online over the last few years have created social media accounts, many of them just haven’t found the proper way to maximize their use.

While it may seem simple enough to start up a Twitter account and start posting your upcoming locations, there is much more to social media marketing than sending out the address or intersection you plan to park.

3 Points To Consider In Your Food Truck Social Media Strategy

Listening

Listening to your local market is one of the most important things that social media allows food truck owners to do. It allows you, to follow trending conversations, curb dissatisfaction with proper customer service and to win over those second guessers. Before social media, marketing was considered a monologue like talking in an empty room, or underwater for that matter. Social media has brought your customers to the party and now it’s up to you to mingle, to create connections that are relevant and that could potentially benefit your mobile food business.

Diversification

When building a strategy for your online campaign and social media accounts you must consider diversification. Instead of strictly targeting the individuals who may eventually be found in line at your truck, include messages to others in your community as well such as food and equipment suppliers, commercial kitchens, fellow food truck owners, etc. By starting with a diversified manner in mind there is more opportunity for your mobile food business to grow in multiple directions (catering, events or products that can be sold by business partners).

Diversifying your market helps to build segment pools for your target market which would eventually lead into a primary segment, a secondary, and so on. Building pools early in the launch allows food truck owners to see which demographic they are getting the most reactions from. The segmented pools also suggest which segments deserve more attention and allocated resources. The only thing to be careful with when you diversify your market is the content you share, will it offend some people or will it be shared with positivity?

Branding

Branding is a very important element in running your social media accounts. Anyone should be capable of building an image of what their food truck business is all about through the content that they share. Make sure the content you share is relevant, consistent and witty in some manner to encourage people to engage, share or like it. Although, those cute images of kittens are cute you have to ask yourself if this is consistent with your food truck’s branding. Then again, isn’t that what personal pages are for?

So are all of these points part of your social media strategy? If not…what are you doing wasting time here :). Get to work!!!

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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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