Fueled by demand for inexpensive, quick and delicious meals, gourmet food trucks have swept cities across the world, offering up specialties, such as grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, pickles, cupcakes and meatballs.

The past few years have seen an onslaught of social media-savvy food trucks, empowering on-the-go customers to follow their favorite truck’s whereabouts on Twitter or learn about nearby deals on Foursquare, among other advancements.

Food trucks are becoming increasingly smart with their social media marketing, running campaigns to support particular efforts, deals or events. Here are five examples of innovative social media campaigns created by food trucks of all types.

1. DoubleTree CAREavan: Celebrating a Milestone

DoubleTree by Hilton gives out approximately 60,000 chocolate chip cookies each day when guests check in, amounting to more than 21 million cookies annually. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of its signature chocolate chip cookie, DoubleTree by Hilton suited up a food truck for, in their own words, a “10-week, 10,000-mile, 50-city journey to deliver hundreds of thousands of smiles to weary workers, tired travelers and local charities across the country through the pleasant surprise of a sweet chocolate chip cookie treat.”

The campaign is driven by social media, including the following components:

  • Facebook: The DoubleTree Facebook page features an app with a real-time map of where the cookie CAREavan is, relevant tweets, a sweepstakes entry form for free stays at the hotel, YouTube videos and related promotions. The page has experienced an 89% increase in Facebook Likes since DoubleTree launched the campaign on May 26.
  • Foursquare: The CAREavan’s location is updated on Foursquare, where the truck is running a special to promote its free cookies, as well as its Topguest partnership.
  • Topguest: Topguest members receive 50 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points and 25 Virgin Elevate points with each Foursquare checkin.
  • Twitter: DoubleTree is running a contest on Twitter to give followers the chance to win a “sweet break,” in which the truck team chooses tweeters using the hashtag #SweetBreak and hand-delivers 250 chocolate chip cookies to each of the winners’ offices. Twitter followers can also stay informed about the CAREavan’s whereabouts and activities.
  • YouTube: DoubleTree is capturing “Cookie Confessionals” of fans talking about why they love chocolate chip cookies and posting them to its YouTube channel.

While DoubleTree isn’t a food-centric brand at its core, it is known for its warm chocolate chip cookies, and this campaign definitely plays on that nostalgia, bringing a bit of sweetness to each city it visits.

2. Mexicue: Crowdsourcing Recipes on Facebook

BBQ truck Mexicue is on a mission to crowdsource seasonal offerings on its menu. This summer it is running a Summer Market Special Contest, in which one lucky winner will be picked to have his or her seasonal recipe featured on the menu for one month.

Using a Facebook app, Mexicue announces an ingredient and accepts recipe submissions that include that ingredient. Then the Facebook community can vote for the recipe that will be featured aboard the Mexicue truck that month. Each month this summer, a new menu item is featured. The creators of the winning recipes win a $50 gift certificate to Mexicue and a Manhattan Messenger bag by Lexdray. The second and third place prizes are $25 and $10 Mexicue gift cards, respectively.

This contest is a fun way to engage a community and empower aspiring taco artisans to craft recipes for the chance to be featured on the menu.

3. Ninja Snowballs: Building Excitement During a Dead Time

There are only so many months in a summer when pedestrians want to stop for a snow cone. Baton Rouge snow cone truck Ninja Snowballs decided to combat slumping sales in September and October by running a flavor contest.

Bite and Booze blogger Jay Ducote partnered with Ninja Snowballs to run the contest, which asked foodies to invent a new flavor combination for the truck. Entries were accepted via Twitter and Facebook.

So, how did the campaign do? The truck was able to vend a few more weeks than it usually would have as a result of the buzz around the new flavors available for customers to try during the contest, says Ducote. Furthermore, the contest details page racked up 1,500 visits, and the top 16 submitted flavors drove a lot of buzz during the six rounds of judging, in which votes were counted by how many people ordered each snow cone.

The winning flavor, called “Lemon Fluff,” was submitted by marketing consultant Julie Perrault and featured a blend of fresh-squeezed lemonade and sweetened condensed milk.

Find the entire article <here>