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Twitter

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.

social media sites

With new social media sites popping up all over the internet, it can be overwhelming to food truck owners to figure out which to focus their time and energy on.

Based off a recent survey we conducted from our readers, the top four social media sites that food truck customers use are: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

4 Social Media Sites For Your Food Truck
Facebook

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

Beneficial Features:

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

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

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

Twitter

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

Beneficial Features:

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

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

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

Pinterest

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

Beneficial Features:

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

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

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

Instagram

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

Beneficial Features:

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

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

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

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

Which social media sites are you using that aren’t listed here? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them in the comment 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.

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.

FoodTruckChat

FoodTruckChat#FoodTruckChat is back and for a great reason. Food truck programming on television has really starting to take off, this weekend alone there are two programs making their premiers. Because of this we are dusting off our FoodTruckChat account to discuss these shows while they are running live.

While we cannot promise any special guests at this time, we hope to have a few of the truck owners drop in and say hello.

FoodTruckChat SATURDAY

Wingmen  premiers August 16 at 10pm/9c on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Get the low down on Wingmen

FoodTruckChat SUNDAY

The Great Food Truck Race season 5 premiers this Sunday, Aug. 17 at 9pm/8c on Food Network.

Get the low down on The Great Food Truck Race

Join us during one or both (preferably) of these great food truck shows on Twitter as we live chat @FoodTruckChat or use the hashtag FoodTruckChat to join the discussion.

twitter policy

We’re going to share the policy we’ve been following since our first Tweet in 2010. It works well for us and you can adopt this policy for your personal or food truck account if you wish.

Ready for it?…

We follow everyone back on Twitter (well, almost everyone).

There, that’s our policy short and simple and here’s why we follow it.

For some reason, Twitter limits how many people an account can follow. If you happen to follow a bunch of celebrity chefs and news outlets that don’t follow you back, your account will hit a wall at 2,000 where you find you can’t follow anyone else. So any time you don’t follow someone back, you’re limiting who else they can follow.

When learning about Twitter early on, we found an article that explained that automatically following back is the common ethic of the medium. It’s what you do, it said. This rule has served us well in introducing us to some really great people…many of which have become friends (online and offline).

Much more important, here’s why we follow everyone back: We are not more important than any of our followers. We are grateful every single time someone or some company follows us. It’s their way of saying, “Hey Mobile Cuisine, we want to get to know you better.” For us, to snub this kindness would be ungracious, to say the least.

Following back is consistent with our status as an online trade magazine that covers a service industry. How on earth could we tell food truck owners to provide Five-Star Customer Service, when we are impolite to those kind enough to follow us on Twitter? So for us, it’s an easy decision.

We understand that some of you will find these to be strong words, especially that last part. Let us repeat: this is OUR follow-back policy. These are our reasons. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not observing our practices, and they probably work for you and your food truck business.

Remember when we stated we follow “almost everyone”?

When we follow a new person, we typically give them a week, maybe two, to follow us back. If they don’t choose to, that’s perfectly fine. But at that point we typically unfollow them. We literally do not follow a single human who does not follow us as well – at least not for more than a week. No one is that important to me. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t follow food trucks that don’t follow us…we do, do that. We have to…we need to know what’s happening in the industry, and Twitter is one of the source we use for that information.

Alright, that’s our short explanation of our follow-back policy for Twitter. We are very interested in your thoughts and comments. We know this one in particular is not universally agreed upon, so let us have it, if you feel so inclined.

food truck tweets

Food truck operators constantly email me with questions on how they can improve the tweets they send out. What I usually explain is that they need to increase their food truck tweets, “Twitter Traction”.

That’s when things get quiet. Twitter Traction? The short explanation is this…it’s when your tweets get retweeted, favorited, or attracts new followers (ie…possible new customers).

As a mobile food business, Twitter traction something you need to learn how to achieve.  A common response question is, “Why?”, and within milliseconds I return the volley with, “the primary reason any food truck should have a social media presence is to gain more visibility for your brand. The more your tweets get circulated, the more people will view your mobile food business name and ultimately track your truck down to see what all the fuss is about.”

As someone who has spent the last 4 years inside the twitterverse, I have enjoyed figuring out what kind of tweets get attention not just get tweeted out once, never to be read again. While in some cases it may just be that the author found the right receiver, the right Twitter member who appreciates the thoughts, sentiments or content of that particular tweet. But along the way I have discovered some great tricks for delivering your tweet message effectively- to get your food truck’s tweet noticed, to get it TRACTION.

HASHTAGS & MENTIONS

The most obvious food truck tweets tip is to learn the art of the hashtag. For food trucks is all about being topical within the mobile food industry, your target market or subjects relevant to your brand. If you hashtag your tweet, it becomes easily searched, and may find its way to the perfect re-tweeter.

Examples: #foodtruck, #foodcart,  #streetfood, #yourcity 

Mentioning other food trucks or businesses related to your tweet (by including @ followed by their twitter address) is a no-brainer in gaining twitter traction- because whomever you mention will likely retweet to increase their own brand visibility. This is of course far more effective when used authentically, positively, and with a clear purpose- for example, to thank a customer, a business partner, a supplier, or event promoter; respond to their idea, or share content specifically relevant to them.

FRONT LOAD YOUR FOOD TRUCK TWEETS

Tweets may be only 140 characters, but food truck vendors are always in a hurry. Whenever possible, lead with the interesting information, feeling, opinion, or point of difference. This way, when scrolling down the trillion or so tweets on their screen, others in the twitterverse will be attracted to your tweet immediately, without having to read the entire message.

Again, positive messages seem to get more traction, and to create that immediate, positive tweet-attraction- you can start your tweet with engaging adjectives that invite fellow tweeters to keep reading:

Example: Helpful #Cookingtips: learn how to make our awesome <insert menu item here> at home! www.yourfoodtruckblog.com

This hits the topic of cooking tips and gives an opinion (helpful) in the first two words. Front-loading is effective for all scroll-feed social media.

SIMPLIFY + TOPICS = RETWEET

This is a great little trick for getting your content circulated and you brand retweeted- especially if you are linking an article, either a blog post on your own site or another great piece of content you have discovered that you feel is really on message for your food truck brand. Before the link, create a simple equation that will help readers quickly ascertain why this is a click-worthy link:

Example: #FoodTrucks + #Social Media = Low Cost #Marketing! (follow with link).

See how the hashtags are a natural fit as well?  You can even add a dash of humor to get even more traction:

Example: #QSR + #SocialMediaFail = #hilarious! (link to article). 

You can have some fun working with these tips but be sure to experiment.  See what helps get your food truck tweets the most traction. Let us know what works best for your food truck tweets on Twitter.

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.

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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