Tonight we attended an amazing fall festival hosted by Crosspointe Church in Orlando. The festival was open to the public and brought in close to 3,000 people. Not a surprise the event attracted people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The entertainment included everything from “trunk or treat”, train rides, bouncy castles and more. One of the main attractions was 15 of Orlando's top Food Trucks!
Our family arrived approximately 30 minutes into the event. Lines were starting to fill for the food trucks. However, there were still many people like us, wandering and deciding what food they were going to devour.
We strolled the three aisles of food trucks, scoping out trucks, their menus, drinks and more. The kids finally landed on a good burger while my husband and I were still undecided.
Time to Choose a Truck!
As I made my way to one of the trucks on the end (yet closest to the rest of the entertainment), one truck in particular caught my attention. Why you ask? Well it was a combination of a busy crowd, the owner on the ground taking orders and a smell that made your mouth water. They had pictures of the food on a sign next to the truck, an easy to read and remember logo and a menu easy to read and understand.
When it was my time to order the owner gave me his full attention helped me pick out the perfect marinated steak taco meal! Can you say YUM?
I ordered my food and within seconds of receiving it, spicing it up with the spiciest sauce they had, I already had a crowd of crazy friends wanting to steal my tacos! They were begging for samples like hungry little baby birds in their nest with mama bird. I think I gave out a full taco before I had the chance to take 3 bites. Needless to say, the owner of the truck even confirmed my samples sold a lot of tacos for the Mayan Grill truck! ;)
As we were waiting for our food I noticed that the Mayan Grill truck had a full community gathering. There were those eating, others deciding and the rest waiting in line to order or anxiously awaiting their food to be served. Everyone was talking about the owner, the food and his awesome truck.
Mayan Grill created an experience. The owner created something fresh, new and understandable. We knew what we were getting and we were quite excited about it!
You can even see our pastor, Chan Kilgore, enjoying some amazing BBQ ribs as an appetizer while he waited for his Mayan meal! By the look on his face I think it's pretty safe to bet that the ribs were yummy!
We devoured the Mayan Grill deliciousness and continued to stroll around the festival with the kids, enjoying the moment and taking in all the wonderful sights, smells and sounds.
Time for Dessert!
As soon as we had some room in the belly we made our way to the Yum Yum truck for some amazing dessert. I inhaled the most delicious cupcake I have ever had, a chocolate peanut butter melt in your mouth piece of heaven on earth! The frosting tasted like peanut butter cookie dough.
Social Media and Food Trucks Go Together Like Cupcakes and Icing!
Given the fact I own a digital marketing and social media agency, I couldn't help but also pay close attention to how the trucks were branded, how they were integrating social media, leveraging the real estate on the truck, around the truck and other opportunities to create an amazing and memorable experience for their customers.
I was shocked how many trucks are missing out on easy marketing opportunities. There were very few who included a Twitter handle or Instagram user name on their truck. Remember, if people like your food they want to tell their friends about it! Make it easy for them to do such!
Below are some tips for food truck owners and the agencies supporting them. I could write a book on this but will leave it at 20 tips for you today. These tips are focused on the top of the conversion funnel, earning loyal brand evangelists and beginning to nurture relationships with new customers by leveraging social media.
20 Social Media Tips for Food Trucks:
1. Have a plan. Don't just wing everything you do with your brand and with social media. Know your goals and objectives, your audience, the goals and objectives of your audience and how you can best leverage social media to nurture relationships with your ideal customer. Focus on an audience based approach and align social media to business goals where it can have the greatest positive impact. Download this worksheet to get started.
2. Don't spread yourself too thin. We see many food truck owners thinking they need to be on every social network. However, when you visit their platforms it's like visiting a lonely, abandoned island. Don't get in over your head. It's better to focus on one or two social networks that you do really well than to attempt to leverage five and have little presence on any of them.
3. Make your logo easy to read, see and photograph. I love how the Mayan Grill truck has a very simple, easy to read and photograph logo. Make it a goal to have a photographic “Kodak moment” spot on your truck where people can take photos eating your deliciousness!
4. Create an experience. Create your own brand based on your unique cuisine and the audience you want to attract. If your food is fresh and organic then use colors and branding elements that create an organic and fresh experience. If your truck is a New York City style pizza, then create such an experience. Know your audience and create an experience that inspires, excites and delights them! Download and use this free Social Media Audience Analysis Worksheet to get started.
5. Don't just copy other trucks in your local area. Rise above status quo and develop your own brand, cuisine, and overall experience. We have worked with local food trucks and find most food trucks are barely staying in business. Don't copy them or you may wind up in the same boat! Think bigger.
6. Brand your truck consistently with your website and other social properties. Ensure that the experience customers have visiting your social properties before and after the event is the same as at the event. It takes 6-7 brand touches before people will remember your brand so make every touch count! Download this white paper with 15 tips to help you stomp the status quo brand!
7. Use the truck real estate wisely. Don't put a silly QR Code on the truck that links to your website. If your food is good and I am devouring it with both hands, I don't have a hand to scan the stupid QR code. If I do and find that it only leads me to your generic website, I am not going to be a happy social camper. Make every inch count. Make it meaningful, relevant and useful in creating a positive experience for your clients.
8. On the truck include your Twitter handle, Instagram username and website/ blog address at minimum. Don't just include the generic Twitter and Facebook logos. They are useless without an address, period.
9. Create a business card that includes all of your top priority social profile addresses. Include your Twitter handle, Instagram, Facebook and blog/ website at minimum. Only include social networks which you are active and will engage with your fans. Keep a stack of these cards on the table where customers grab napkins, plastic silverware and sauces.
11. If possible, include images of your food. I love how the Mayan Grill included pictures of the menu items on a sign by the truck. It helped many people decide what menu item to order.
12. Make it clear how I can learn more about you. If you offer catering make it easy for me to contact you. Should I grab a business card from you? Or should I visit your website and fill out a contact form? Or do you prefer a simple phone call? Help me help you get more business!
13. Smile for pictures. Be happy to be included in photos your fans take of you and your truck. Having your biggest fans posting and sharing photos and telling their friends how great you are is free marketing that can work for you 24/7, 365 days a year if you use it wisely. Take time to smile, stand with and engage with your customer. Be the human part of their experience and memories.
14. Be human. This goes for both online and offline. Talk like a human, engage like a human and treat your customers like humans. If you are experiencing a heavy crowd and orders are taking a bit longer, just give your customers an honest answer as to how long it will take. If they have kids and lines are running a bit long, let them know they have time to run to the restroom or take their kids on a jump in the bouncy castle or for a ride in the train.
15. Don't make your social pages and posts all about you. I should be able to visit your Facebook page or Twitter profile after the event and see that your recent conversations and social network posts are not just about you. I'd love to see people eating and enjoying the experience as much as I did when I visited and purchased from your truck. I also would like to see other people talking to you, raving about your food and the experience they had while dining truck side.
16. Include a section on your blog or website that easily tells me where you will be next. Don't make me search on a Facebook page or Twitter stream. If you have a regular schedule, then post it.
17. Reward social media actions. Setup a contest on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or your blog that rewards good social behavior. Have a contest that includes photos or videos submitted by your new and loyal fans! Pass out a simple one half page flyer to educate them on how to engage in your contest.
18. Mobile responsive website and blog is a must. Your food truck patrons are mobile. If your website or blog can not be easily viewed and engaged with via mobile devices you might as well start over. You are missing out on what could be your greatest brand evangelists and loyal customers.
19. Engage! Your greatest opportunity to engage with visiting customers to your food truck is immediately after they experienced your food. It is then they still remember the smells and tastes within their mouth. Be sure to check your social profiles daily for comments, new fans. Engage with them, talk to them like human beings. Let them know you appreciate them. Invest in doing some social listening to know what customers are saying about your brand. Good or bad, knowing what conversations are happening in your honor will help you improve the customer experience and create relationships to last a life time.
20. Have fun! No matter how busy you are or what goes right or wrong, have fun! Be sure that people working in your truck represent your brand. They should be as passionate about your business and truck as you are! When people are visiting Food Truck festivals they want to enjoy the moment. They are there for a good time. Have a good time with them!
What You Say?
Do you frequent food truck festivals? What is the best festival you have ever been to? What is your favorite food truck and why?
Heartbeat of Social Media Series
This blog post is part of a series titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It includes a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.
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