I speak with a lot of food truck vendors who still don’t get social media and the importance of social media networking. When I started Mobile Cuisine vendors would use Twitter and Facebook for posting their next locations, but weren’t really sure what other purposes being on social media provided.

I’m glad to say that in these last four years things have changed and a large majority of food truck owners do get it and use social media networking as the tool it was designed to be.

With that said, there are still a few out there that still struggle to understand the importance that social media plays in the success of their mobile food business. Some will have a Facebook account, rarely post to it or only have that account. They’ll tell me they are happy with Facebook and find the Twitterverse too fast paced and thus don’t even have a Twitter account.

Why social media networking so important

You need to look at social media as the world’s biggest networking event and everyone’s there. This includes your competitors and potential food truck customers.

Imagine walking into a networking event, people are wandering around, engaging with people they know and being introduced to those they don’t. They’re talking about the local economy, how the weather is affecting their business or even the price of beef.

You get into a conversation and they ask what you do for a living. You might say, “I’ve got a food truck catering business that specializes in Italian sandwiches.” The person might say, “Wow, I’ve got a friend who has been looking for an Italian caterer. Let me introduce you!”

Now if that same conversation happened on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, the friend and others would be easy to make a virtual introduction to. They could even be “listening” to that conversation. That’s what makes social media so much more valuable as a marketing tool. You can be exposed to thousands more potential customers than you would through traditional styles of networking.

So you may wonder how this happens. It’s easy, social media users stay connected by “following” one another.

If I’m following you, I can see your social conversations. Post something that interests me and I might share it with my followers, who may also share it with their followers.

Before you know it, you and your food truck may be exposed to hundreds of thousands of strangers. Some of them will become your followers and, presto! Your food truck will have a growing audience.

What works in social media networking, and what doesn’t? The easy way to explain is to say they’re the same things that work when you’re networking in a hotel conference room.

Plan ahead

If you’re going to an event to network, you usually set goals. Maybe you want to find prospective customers or get people interested in a future food truck event.

You identify your target demographics and learn which people are influencers will be at the event, such as the local media, business owners and politicians. In social media networking, making the right moves gets a bit more complicated and involves a little more planning.

Don’t say the same thing

Repeatedly posting the same thing is like going to a network event and saying the same thing over and over. People will turn and quickly walk away from you. Instead, engage in conversations on a variety of topics.

Show off your personality

At a networking event, you smile, ask questions, maybe even tell some jokes. Is that’s your personality and the personality you want your personal brand to reflect? Time and again, it has been shown that people are drawn to people, not things, so let your personality shine.

Just remember to never try to be someone you’re not. People are smart and quickly lose trust of someone they feel is being dishonest about who they are. Social media is a great way to build awareness of your food truck brand and cultivate prospective.

RELATED: The Importance For Vendors To Get To Know Their Online Customers

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, simply posting occasional announcements about upcoming food truck stops is not social media networking. It’s also not helping your food truck business. In fact, if that’s all you’re doing, it could be hurting you. What’s worse, you’re not taking advantage of what could become the most powerful tool in your food truck’s marketing arsenal.

Do you have any advice to those still struggling to understand the importance of social media networking within the food truck industry? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section, our food truck forum on social media. Twitter | Facebook