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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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If you want to transmit a one-way message to your customers, a billboard is a wonderful option; radio ads work well too.

However, if your goal is to build your food truck business around loyal customers, a better option is to use a marketing channel like Twitter, where engagement is one-to-many and one-on-one. You and the customer, the customer and you.

twitter-tips

Here are some tips for making that digital relationship more personal.

State your name. Whomever is the owner of the truck should at least be listed in the bio by name. It helps tweets that start with “I” make a little more sense and be more meaningful.

Use your business as a canvas. If you have a smartphone, you’re officially obligated to post photos. Is there something new on your menu? Are you preparing food in your commercial kitchen? What’s on the menu today? How full is the line of your truck? These are all opportunities for photographic bragging rights.

Actively listen. Use social media monitoring tools to chime in when someone talks about you. Don’t let a mention go unnoticed or unappreciated. Respond when people talk to you.

Be a voice, not an echo. Cross posting to both Twitter & Facebook, or (gasp!) having Facebook feed into Twitter is the biggest pet peeve of Twitter users. Use each platform separately and to their greatest individual strengths.

Jump in on hashtags. There are lots of TweetChats and hashtags to join. There’s #foodtruckchat for discussing your truck and issues around it.

Be their guide. Your customers are following you because they think you’re cool, they like your food truck, and they want to hear about specials. Be a resource to them about the topics related to your mobile food business.

Provide customer service. Listen to what your customers are saying on Twitter, and respond to them no matter what the feedback. It’s just like how in real life a great service window attendant can get someone to buy half the menu, while a poor one sends customers off to their next destination quickly. Resolve complaints, and be gracious of compliments.

One of the biggest hurdles that anyone who’s just joined Twitter will come across is the question of how to interact. However, for food truck owners, the question is more esoteric, as you’ll need to build a digital persona that acts as both a brand and a likable human.

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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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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. You 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 lists. Separate your incoming tweet stream into lists by thinking about:

  • Development: Who do you want to learn from? Section out the smartest people you know or want to know.
  • 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 do you want to accomplish? Tune into the people and conversations that support your aspirations.

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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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If your food truck has a Twitter account that’s isn’t growing, there are a number of reasons this may be happening.

In many ways, Twitter is like a living, breathing thing that can’t be ignored or else it will waste away. Tweeting your truck’s location on a regular basis will only get your food truck’s Twitter account so far.

twitter dead

With that in mind, here are a handful of tips that’ll keep your food truck Twitter account alive with tweets, re-tweets, and follower growth:

Tweet Promotions

There’s no better way for a food truck to gather Twitter followers than by tweeting promotions, coupon codes, and other deals.

Don’t look at this as just a ploy to rack up as many followers as possible; it’s a way to show current customers your appreciation while also attracting new ones.

WARNING: Do not make your promotions and deals dependent on whether or not your followers re-tweet your special offer to their friends and followers. This will end up having a negative effect on your following due to its gimmicky approach.

Answer Customer Questions

A great way to keep your food truck’s Twitter account active is by using it as a way to answer customer questions. Anytime a customer has a question or issue with a menu item or the service they received, using Twitter for customer service will prove to other followers that you care about your customers.

Additionally, Twitter is a great resource for your mobile food business in the form of customer feedback. Use Twitter as a way to ask your customers what your food truck business is doing right as well as where it can improve.

Reply To Everyone

Tweeting questions and statements surrounding your food truck will definitely keep your Twitter account alive, but if one statement turns into multiple remarks, you have to be prepared to answer them all.

When customers aren’t acknowledged, it’s fair to assume they wind up feeling neglected. In the business world, a neglected customer isn’t a customer for long.

The same goes for Twitter followers. So, always interact with your Twitter audience and watch it grow.

Follow Others

Being followed on Twitter is great, especially for  mobile food businesses, but following others in return is just as important. Tweeting is a two-way street, so if you really want to be part of the Twitter community, follow others.

This isn’t to say that just anyone is a good candidate for your food truck to follow on Twitter.

Even if it comes in the form of competition, always follow Twitter accounts relevant to your business, including local restaurants or other food truck businesses.

Keep It Fresh

The only thing worse than a neglected Twitter account is one that seems as though it’s auto-fed tweets. Don’t use Twitter as a self-promotion machine that just shoots out links left and right. It’s not engaging and won’t get your business anywhere.

Instead, hand-feed Twitter with fresh, interesting, and pertinent information about your food truck business and it’s menu.

Besides, if followers feel like they’re interacting with a robot, they’ll follow your competitors instead.

By taking the proper steps, your food truck’s Twitter account will be on a roll in no time.

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Whether you’re great at engagement on Twitter, or just getting your food truck started, knowing how to put your best tweets forward is essential for social media growth. But crafting retweet-worthy content isn’t the only key to unlocking Twitter engagement. Creating a savvy profile and understanding Twitter dos-and don’ts will also make you stand out from the other trucks around the world.

So what does a sharp food truck Twitter profile look like, and what are the top-notch tweeting best practices? We’ve compiled this information for you in our Ultimate Twitter Profile mockup.

Food Truck Twitter Profile

1) PROFILE BACKGROUND

Have a bold, dynamic, custom Twitter profile background (PNG recommended; smaller than 2MB) Include a sidebar with company logo, company info, etc…)

2) TWITTER PROFILE + HEADER IMAGE

Include a short but complete bio, web address and location

3) PROFILE PICTURE

Upload a clear, legible company logo, one that is easily read at 81×81 pixels

4) FOLLOWERS/FOLLOWING

Follow people, but not everyone – There are limits after all

5) DIRECT MESSAGES

Avoid sending automated direct messages – it lacks the personal nature that makes Twitter engaing

6) TRENDS

The trends list is the perfect place to kickstart a conversation or amplify a message on Twitter and beyond

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#FoodTruckChatOur weekly Twitter #FoodTruckChat session continues tonight at 9/8 PM ET/CT this evening.

The basic premise of these chats is to bring the mobile food industry and it’s fans together for at least an hour a week. The Great Food Truck Race has been the central topic of discussion, but tonight we’ll open the discussion to general industry questions.

This week’s chat will continue along the same lines as our previous editions.

Mobile Cuisine’s editor-in-chief, Richard Myrick will host the discussion via the #FoodTruckChat Twitter account. He will pose a number of questions during the chat to help spark a little discussion and find out your thoughts.

To follow the discussion you can merely follow the account’s feed. We would love for you to join the discussion and this is just as easy. Toss a #FoodTruckChat hashtag into a Twitter post and reference the question number with your response. Your answer will then be retweeted so that anyone following the actual account will see the discussion as it happens.

If you have some topical questions you would like to see discussed, feel free to drop us a line at admin@mobile-cuisine.com or leave a comment below and we’ll try to get your question added tonight.

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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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