A Basic Guide to Social Media for Food Trucks
Food truck and social media are two things that seem to go hand in hand. Most food trucks do not have a marketing budget, and if they do it isn’t very big Because of that they’ve had to work with free and low cost marketing methods. Social media is perfect for food trucks for many reasons, but largely because it is portable, just like a food truck is. Here’s a look at how food trucks are using social media to promote their business, and also how they can utilize different social media platforms. Social media is user generated content and that always should be something you bear in mind, especially that content part.
Far and wide this is the most popular social media site for food trucks and their consumers to use and has been the most successful for many trucks. Twitter works in real time – what’s happening right now – and that’s how food trucks operate. Tweeting the location of the truck for that day, specials, the weather, and any other information that a consumer may want is vital. Twitter also lets a truck tell consumers where they will be for upcoming events, forthcoming menu items and other exciting news. Additionally, it is very easy to interact with consumers on Twitter, particularly if they have requests or suggestions. One thing with Twitter – don’t overdo the hashtags. If you find one that can be used that makes sense (perhaps your city name #albanyny for example) go for it, but nothing makes true Twitter users laugh like hashtag soup on your updates. You don’t want to look irrelevant. Do a search on Twitter for the right hashtags and go with them. If it is a celebrity’s birthday for example and you want to have a menu item named after them, perhaps tag them in it.
Images rule the internet. Instagram has a lot of possibilities for food trucks to promote their business. Some ideas for Instagram could be obvious things like photos of your specials or your regular menu items but also if it’s a nice day out, photos of your truck should be in that mix. Perhaps if you’re in a location unfamiliar to consumers, having some visual of where you are will help. Like flickr (see below) Instagram can share via Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. How about this?Take a photo of happy customers and share it across your platforms! Use a #hashtag (don’t go crazy, see Twitter for why) to help spread your content.
Twitter may have more of the hipper folks who are also more likely to be in the food truck audience, but Facebook also has a very diverse audience who are potential customers. There are plenty of parents on Facebook – both old and young, who will be interested in seeing and reading about a food truck. Perhaps a retired couple is looking for something adventurous or perhaps a parent on the go wants some quick food for their family that isn’t from a fast food chain. Facebook works well as a visual medium, so if the truck is cooking something good, make sure there is a photo of it on Facebook – an appealing photo by the way. Also, don’t use hashtags on Facebook, unless they roll them out officially – they look silly.
flickr is often overlooked, so make sure you don’t overlook this great social media site. This is the original social media site and it has a million possibilities for your business. For starters their relaunched app for iOS is incredible for photo sharing and for interacting with groups of similar photo content. Their filters also certainly rival those offered by Instagram and flickr is finding a nice middle ground between professional photographers and casual cellphone photographers. Another plus of flickr over Instagram is that you can create sets and galleries to embed on a site or share via other social media. Just like Instagram, flickr can share via Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress . Again, take a photo of happy customers and share it across your platforms or perhaps share a gallery of happy customers. flickr now supports #hashtags – so use them (don’t go crazy, see Twitter for why) to help spread your content. And yes, the ‘f’ is lowercase on purpose.
Facebook tried to get in on the location based social media but Foursquare still has the best platform for ‘checking in’. Offering a check-in special is always a no-brainer. Foursquare is a younger audience, but they are also more fast paced, and more food adventurous. They are also looking for deals where they don’t need a coupon. Take the work out of a special deal with Foursquare!
Videos have so much potential! This is a great way for you to display your character, the character of your truck, your customers, and overall showcase the experience of eating with your brand. How about a day in the life of the food truck? There’s a lot of behind the scenes preparation and action that the consumer doesn’t always get to see. What about people tasting something incredible you have and guessing what’s in it? How about sharing a how-to video on making one of your dishes? Or if you sell something ‘sinful’ such as candy or ice cream, maybe set up a confesional?
Yelp used to be a great site for promoting your business, but it has largely become overrun by reviews that are not reliable. If you’re a business owner, you certainly want your fans to write good reviews, and there is nothing wrong with asking them to do so. Consumers though have caught on to this practice and are are distrusting Yelp more and more. Additionally there are reviews created by the competition, trying to knock down a competitor. Worse yet – the self proclaimed ‘food experts’ trying to write ‘professional’ looking reviews which really are just mumbo jumbo. Yelp takes a lot more work than it’s worth. The worst part about Yelp it’s really hard to control the conversation about your brand on this site, while on Twitter or Facebook you can have a better channel for reaching out to consumers to email you directly and take the problem offline from public view. Foursquare is a better option for consumer reviews – it’s more trusted, because the app more or less forces them to have visited the venue.
Need to hire help? Need to network with some business leaders who could perhaps utilize your services? Need a better supplier? LinkedIn can be used fairly effectively for a food truck, especially if you are perhaps networking with people who have the influence to bring groups down form the office. Maybe you even work out an employee of the month discount via local business owners who can give their employees who win the honor a month long discount pass.
This site is clearly 90% female driven and 100% image driven. A bad image will kill your interaction on here. Want to win on Pinterest? Share some photos of you making a dish perhaps with some instruction but promise to give them the other half of the directions at your truck. Share photos of your ingredients, share photos of your handmade signs, maybe even if you have a quotation of the day (these are HUGE on Pinterest) go ahead and share that too. Be careful on Pinterest though, if you’re posting just photos of your menu items, it’ll be perceived as direct marketing and will turn off consumers. Get creative – maybe someone brought their dog to your truck – share a photo of the pup! Maybe a customer makes her own handbags – share a photo of that too!
Other social media:
G+ (Google Plus)
Great platform but it’s hard to get interaction going on this social network. A big benefit of G+ is the links you share are considered healthy backlinks and will help your ranking in both Google and Bing searches. Using G+ to link to your other social media accounts isn’t a bad idea either, but this may be a social network you spend the least amount of time on.
This is owned by Twitter and initially is only on the iOS platform. It is a simple concept – six second videos that loop. This platform is HUGE with teenagers and college students. If you are near a high school or college, you might want to consider doing a six second daily sweep of your menu, your specials, and your location.
While not technically a social media platform (it’s a blogging site) it has become somewhat of a social media site. While Blogger and WordPress are still great platforms, tumblr works better for people on the go and is perfect for shorter attention spans.