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Social Media

social media relevance

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 to create social media relevance to and for your customers.

Of 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.

Why Social Media Relevance Matters

Here are 3 reasons why relevant content on your social media channels matter.

  • Relevant content adds value to the conversation
  • Relevant content is authentic
  • Relevant content positions your food truck as a trusted industry advisor

Building and fostering a healthy social media community; establishing trust and becoming believable takes time before seeing any positive results. Because of this, your social media relevance will be based on the content you provide. The days of a food truck merely posting their next location are over.

How have you and your food truck provided social media relevance to your brand? We’d love to hear your stories. You can email them them, or share them via Twitter or Facebook.

virtual assistant

There are currently more than 38,000 food trucks and street vendors across the U.S., according to the latest data from IBIS World. If you ever want a visit from Guy Fieri and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” your customers need to rave about you—and you need to be in your food truck, giving them exceptional food and service. See how a virtual assistant can do that annoying desk work for you, so you can stay out in front of your customers and do what you love to do.

food truck virtual assistant

The Role of a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant (VA) is someone with a number of skills who can cover various roles in your business. There are VAs who specialize in a particular area, such as accounting or social media, but many function like a resource to whom you can go for almost any business need.

Bookkeeping

Poring over receipts at the end of the day is not something you look forward to. Hire a VA to pick up your receipts and maintain your books. Using cloud-based bookkeeping software, your assistant can update your information for you to review the next day. The VA can manage your payroll, expenses and taxes, too.

Email and Phone

While you’re working on the food truck, your virtual assistant can handle your business email and phone calls. He or she can contact you about only the most urgent items and summarize the rest for you to respond to later. As with many of the VA responsibilities, this one doesn’t require the person to be local. Many of the tasks you give virtual assistants can be given to people residing all over the country.

Research

Hire a virtual assistant to research the best places in the city to locate your food truck. The VA can uncover statistics such as business in the area, population, demographics—all the data you need to make this decision. A VA can collect the data and summarize it for you to review. Whether you have one or more trucks, knowing where to go to find your customers is key to your business and growth.

Marketing

Designing and producing marketing campaigns is another role that a virtual assistant can do for you. Let your VA create and print brochures about the fresh ingredients you use or the catering services you offer, and let him or her help promote your business.

Social Media

Your social media sites are a good way to promote your food truck and let people know where it will be. Your virtual assistance can manage the posts and create fun and interesting contests for your customers. A “Guess Where The Truck Will Be Tomorrow” contest encourages customer to post their guesses on your page. The first customer to guess correctly gets a free lunch. Your VA can handle all of the details of your social networking remotely.

Website Management

Your virtual assistant can also help maintain your website. They can update menus, post your blogs or articles and link your site with your social media traffic. Keeping your website fresh and interesting is another way to bring customers out to experience your particular cuisine.

Do you have experience in working with a virtual assistant for your food truck business? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

You can share your tips and ideas via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

social media crisis

tip of the dayOne of the topics we are asked to discuss by our readers is the fear that food truck owners have to overcome when tackling social media.

It’s important to recognize that when a food truck social media crisis happens, and it’s better to be on top of your response in social media than not to be there at all. Today we’ll provide a short list of tips for food truck owners responding to a social media crisis.

Three Steps For Dealing With A Social Media Crisis
  • The first step in solving a a social media crisis is to immediately put the customer at ease that you understand their problem. In fact, repeat it back to them so that they absolutely know that you understand what’s wrong. If clarification is in order, it will happen right there. Your food truck customers want to know that you are listening and you have one chance to fix this problem so make sure you understand it.
  • The next step in resolving a social media crisis is to make sure they know that you care. By responding and letting them know that you personally care for them, you can drop the intensity of the issue way down and personalize it. You don’t want to be seen as a faceless food truck brand, become that person that they can trust to try to fix their problem.
  • Finally, you need to fix the problem. Don’t supply a form, phone number or email address for them to contact. You must fix the problem. You, the food truck owner (or representative). If you brush this person off to someone else, they’ll immediately recognize you for what you are… a phony. If you understand and you care, you’ll follow through and make sure the issue is resolved.

That’s not saying that you, personally, have to correct the issue. It means that you are the leader and the person accountable to the customer. It’s your responsibility to carry the person through to a resolution. If you just dump and run, it’s going to cause more issues. You don’t appreciate it when it happens to you so why would you do it to your own customer?

By resolving these problems, you are completing one of the best customer relations campaigns you may have as a food truck owner. If you leave your food truck customer happy and content, chances are that they’ll share that success with their network.

Have you personally had to resolve a social media crisis in your truck? We’d love to hear your story and how you fixed it. You can share them with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

facebook marketing tips

Recent studies have found that mobile food vendors mistakenly think they don’t have enough time, money or other resources to invest in Facebook promotions. The problem with this thought process is it doesn’t require a full-time social media coordinator nor much of a budget, if any.

The adage “keep it simple” goes a long way on Facebook, and with that in mind, here are ten Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners to us to maximize your presence on Facebook with minimum resources.

10 Facebook Marketing Tips To Maximize Your Presence

Manage your expectations

Set realistic goals for your approach to social media and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t expect to get thousands of fans within your first month, but think more along the lines of a two or three digit number. Then if you hit something larger than you originally anticipated, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and that will give you momentum.

Make the time

Unless you can find an intern willing to plan your media campaigns for free, cultivating a Facebook presence doesn’t have to be a full-time job nor something that eats up all your free time. Try to set aside an hour a day to work on your business’s page, post updates and communicate directly with customers and fans.

Learn as much as you can

Take notes based on your experiences with Facebook’s pages and other business services — at the very least, write down questions about things you don’t understand so you can make a note to look them up later. You’ll find just about anything you’re curious to know within the site’s official help center. Make a habit of reading as much as you can on this part of the site, without overdoing it.

Start with a small budget

It’s possible to promote your business on Facebook without spending anything. At some point you might get the itch to buy advertising, which certainly helps but also presents the temptation to overspend. You’re better off starting out doing small test ads to see what kind of performance you get for your money, and then ramp up when you figure out which demographics and key words you want to target.

Create a page, not a profile

Don’t open a second account on the social network to make a profile for your business. Not only does that go against Facebook’s rules but it also moves you one degree of separation away from the people who are already on your friend list. These folks are the first people you want to invite to become fans of your business’s page.

Post fun status updates

Make your profile work for your page by posting witty status updates that encourage your friends to engage with your business page. Apply that same sense of wit to the goal of one post per day to your page’s wall. If you can phrase it as a question, so much the better, because that will inspire responses from your community.

Have one-on-one conversations

Send a thank-you message right after someone clicks “like” on your page, and make a point of responding to messages and wall posts within 24 hours. Pay careful attention to whatever fans tell you on your page, and try to respond to their needs.

Don’t spam

People have gotten pretty tired of mass messaging and excessive numbers of posts filling up news feeds — don’t contribute to this noise and fans will appreciate it. When you have something to say to your followers, put it on your wall, not in their inboxes.

Create coupons and promotions

Discounts for first-time customers really work toward generating repeat business. But don’t limit the promotions to the first time someone engages with your company, lest they lose interest. Periodically put things on sale if you can, in order to keep people coming back.

Encourage check-ins

Wherever your business parks from day to day, that counts as a place on Facebook. Make a point of checking in to your current location every day even if you’re not planning to hit the streets. This will put your food truck’s name into people’s news feeds every time you punch in.

If you have any additional Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

twitter lists

tip of the dayTwitter is an important way for food truck owners to learn about the mobile food industry, build relationships, and extend the impact of their work.

Even Twitter enthusiasts can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tweets and the velocity of conversations, but Twitter lists (groups of individual Twitter accounts) can help focus your attention.

By building Twitter lists food truck vendors can quickly focus in on updates from the people you really want to hear from industry experts, well-networked colleagues, and customers simply by looking at your two or three most crucial Twitter lists.

Separate your incoming stream into Twitter lists by thinking about:
  • Development: Who do you want to learn from? Section out the smartest people you know or want to know in one of your Twitter lists.
  • Interactions: Which relationships do you want to initiate or strengthen? Engage with the people who will have the greatest impact on your effectiveness by mentioning and retweeting them.
  • Goals: What goals do you want to accomplish? Tune into the people and conversations that support your food truck business aspirations.
Some suggested Twitter lists for your food truck account:
  • Food Trucks in your Market (could be the members of your food truck organization)
  • Nationally Recognized Food Trucks (those known for their social media talents)
  • Your VIP Customers
  • Local News Personalities (including food truck bloggers)

Please note: You can either create your own Twitter lists or subscribe to Twitter lists created by someone else. Creating or subscribing to a list allows you to see only Tweets from users on that list. Lists are not a way to send Tweets to a select group, just to read them.

Do you have any additional advice for those interested in creating Twitter lists for their food truck Twitter account? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them via email, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

favoriting tweets

So what is that star thing on Twitter and what does it do?

There seems to be a lot of food truck owners who haven’t really explored favoriting tweets or at least don’t see much value in starring tweets of others so here’s a quick intro to one of the most overlooked little gems of Twitter.

Favoriting TweetsWhat is a Favorite?

There is a small star under each tweet that allows you to favorite a tweet.

Everything else is open for interpretation and there lies the main problem. It isn’t readily apparent why a mobile food operator would use this. Is this a bookmark or a high five?

Favoriting Tweets: How to use them

The standard disclaimer applies: There isn’t a wrong way and this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Method 1: Save a tweet for later.

As a busy food truck owner knows keeping an eye on your twitter feed and reading the links that show up in it during the day can be a difficult task. Favortiing can help you save a link that you’d like to read but you don’t have time at that exact moment to digest the entire article. You can favorite the tweet so you can easily find it later and read it when it’s more convenient.

To see your favorited tweets just visit your Twitter profile and click on the Favorites tab.

Method 2: Show appreciation (give a little Twitter high five)

This is the method some owners I have spoken with prefer because it allows them to show appreciation to someone for their tweet without retweeting it. In my view, a retweet is for others whereas a favorite is for you and the author of the tweet.

Method 3: Create a “Reviews” archive

This is a great method for food truck owners- Favorite a tweet when someone says something nice about your product or customer service. You can use these tweets in the future on promotional displays, real and digital, and it’s a quick way to show off your positive user feedback.

Method 4: Create an archive of tweets

Twitter search is not quite as handy as most would like so if you want to create a searchable archive of tweets you can get the rss feed of your favorited tweets and plug it into Google Reader. Nifty huh?

Monitoring who is favoriting tweets from your truck

There are a couple of ways to see when someone favorites your tweets. The first 2 are the most common and the last 2 are my favorite.

1) Twitter.com now includes mentions in the tab formally known as mentions. Just make sure to uncheck the “Show mentions only” checkbox.

2) Tweetdeck will also display favorites in your replies tab.

3) Boxcar iPhone App – This app is how to get push notifications for everything Twitter. Its faster and more reliable, supports many services and comes with settings to set quiet times, sound notifications, and much more. Part of that more is the ability to get a push notification when someone favorites your tweet. It’s free and awesome. Visit Boxcar.io for more info.

4) Favstar.fm – A quirky but very useful service built completely around favorite Tweets. Authorize your twitter account to see who favorites your tweets.

So, do you favorite tweets? How do you use them for your mobile food business?

If this article encourages you to give them a try let us hear from you, or tweet this article and we might just favorite it.

facebook likes

If you’re managing your food truck’s business Facebook page, how are you gauging the success of your efforts? If it’s simply the number of Facebook likes your page has, the following article is worth reading.

Facebook Like

The value of measuring what is and what is not working in your mobile food businesses social media marketing strategy cannot be overstated, especially in areas such as website SEO conversion where goals can sometimes get muddy. So when it comes to evaluating the success of your Facebook strategy, we want to be sure that you’re measuring those efforts correctly.

Why Use “Likes” as Your Default Metric

Why? That’s simple…it’s easy. For many food truck owners using organic (not bought) Facebook likes as the key measurement is a no-brainer. And on the surface, it does seem like the right answer. But your Facebook’s success shouldn’t be boiled down to simply how many people have “liked” your food truck’s page.

What Else Can You Measure

Revenue is certainly the one that should interest you most. Granted, it’s not easy to calculate revenue when it relates to social media. However, social media can be used as a way of driving traffic to your website where some food truck owners sell products, show upcoming parking locations and provide contact forms for catering opportunities; all of which can add to your mobile food company’s bottom line. These actions, by the way, can be accurately measured against your Facebook page as a referral source of traffic in Google Analytics.

Conversions that happen on your website as a result of social media traffic, though, are just one good way to measure success. Other metrics include time-on-site, pages viewed, return visits, and participation on your Facebook page.

Are Facebook Likes Important

It’s not wrong to want to have your food truck to be liked; we all want more Facebook likes, the same way we all want more visitors to our site, more customers at your service windows and more subscribers to your email list. But getting hung up on a single number is never good for measuring all the different kinds of work you put into your food truck business, social media included.

With all that said, please feel free to “like” Mobile Cuisine…we do use our likes as a metric of our social media strategy.

social media time management

It seems from some of the most recent questions we’ve received that some food truck vendors are still having difficulty in improving their social media presence without having to spend more time than they thought they would to get anything accomplished.

Are you one of these vendors? Not to worry, today’s article is all about social media time management and was designed to show you how to streamline the time you invest with social media while still being able to build a strong online brand that draws customers to your food truck service window.

4 Social Media Time Management Tips

Downsize

One mistake I see some vendors make is joining every social network on the web and spending time to stay relevant on each one. If you are presently on what may seem like every social media platform, take some time to find out which ones are actually drawing customers in and interacting with you.

If there is no customer interaction on some, cut down or eliminate the time you spend there and focus more of your time on those that are more active.

If your customers don’t engage with you on Pinterest or Instagram, there’s no need to be there.

Once you know where you’re your message is being heard, pick two or three and don’t worry about the rest.

Speak With Your Customers

Spend some time engaging with your social media followers. Does is seem as most of them are not in your local area? If not, you could be spending your time engaging with people who may never spend a moment waiting in line for one of your awesome menu items. If this is the case you need to fine tune your approach.

Look at your updates that generate the most interest, and use those as a starting point for conversations. When you find a customer hot button issue, run with it. Be sure you share information that is both relevant to your food truck and beneficial for your customers.

You need to focus your social media communications on your customers to build trust and encourage interaction. This will lead to a creating social media advocates for your food truck business.

Consistant User Names

There are some vendors I found while researching this article that use upwards of 3 to five different user names on various social networks. Some even have several handles for Twitter alone.

Not only is this difficult to manage (unless you are paying someone to handle all of these accounts for you), but it also confuses customers which will ultimately dilute your brand.

Settle on a single username so people can easily find and follow you. Use your food truck’s name or a shorter variation. If you’re Your Name Food Truck on Facebook, don’t create a different handle for Twitter, keep it consistent.

Become Predictable

In social media it pays to be predicable. Create a schedule for posting on the social media networks you’ve chosen to have a presence. Choose times when you know your customers are most likely to see your posts.

Once you have your schedule in place, stick to it, it’s much easier to identify what to share in advance rather than trying to do it in real time.

Use the space in between your scheduled posts for customer conversations. Retweet or comment on things you like and thank customers who promote your food truck.

We hope this helps those of you that are having a tough time navigating all of the social media avenues available to food truck vendors. Time is one thing that we understand vendors don’t have in surplus.

If you have addition tips on social media time management, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

relevant twitter following

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 finding a relevant Twitter following and 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.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to retweet it or add us at twitter.com/mobilecuisine. Also, if you have additional tips to finding a relevant Twitter following for food trucks, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Food Truck Blog Mistakes

We have shared numerous articles on food truck website development and more specifically how and why food truck owners should be posting in their site’s blog.

Simply posting a few short articles throughout the month about the things happening inside your mobile food business isn’t going to automatically bring you the 5-10 new customers a month your food truck needs for continued growth.There’s a bit more to this recipe than just the writing.

Have a food truck blog that isn’t gaining any traction? Feel like you’re wasting your time?

Here are some food truck blog mistakes you might be making:

Speaking to the wrong audience

Look over your content. Do you use a lot of culinary jargon that may confuse your non-foodie knowledgeable customers?

Your food truck customer is your target audience, not your culinary peers, so if this is you, simply try putting those ideas into words that someone who has never tuned into Food Network or taken a culinary class would understand.

Poor speeling

Are you taking enough time proofreading the first drafts of your posts? Are you showing personality in your writing? Just because you’re writing a blog post doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice the kind of quality control you practice in your kitchen.

Boring your readers

Spice up your posts with images, videos, or audio clips. Think about the other food truck websites you and your audience visits, what kind of content do they create? What is engaging to them?

No clear goals

Your food truck blog should reflect you and your mobile food business. What do you hope stand for? Where did you come from and where are you going?

The passion you have for the mobile food industry and your local community is the best way to show your readers who you are. They will sense your energy and be brought back by it.

Focusing on the numbers too much

As I well know, it can be very easy to get obsessed with blogging statistics: how many daily readers we get, the bounce rate, the likes, the comments.  Sometimes it’s best to focus on the actual people we are connecting with, whether it’s five or 5000.  Your food truck blog must be about building your community, interacting online and creating relationships with your current and future customers.

Focus on interacting with your readers, responding to their comments and constantly asking for their feedback and your community will begin growing before you know it and your stats will benefit at the same time.

Poor website and post design

In order for all of the previous tips to work, you have to integrate them with a good looking and functional design.

Check out what other food truck blogs you read and enjoy are doing; find out what kinds of blogs your target audience is reading and what those look like.

Look at your blog and evaluate what changes you can make to make it more appealing to your customers. Most importantly, strive to have a design that is professional, easy to navigate, and easy on the eyes.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any suggestions to get past the food truck blog mistakes, please feel free to share it in the comment section below or Tweet us or post a comment on our Facebook page.

NCR Silver

Social Connections