It’s tough enough to run a food business without worrying if your customers can find you. Fortunately, most food truck owners know the value of social media, especially when it comes to Twitter. But the real question is, “what are the best, most effective ways to tweet?”
I’ve reviewed a random sample of Twitter feeds for Arizona-based food trucks. Here are my favorite examples of effective food truck tweeting.
1. Tweet Your Location and Hours Regularly
When it comes to the movable feast — a.k.a. food trucks — posting is promoting, so make it part of your daily routine.
If you get too busy, assign the tweets to a crew member. But what if you’re working alone?
“Before I leave every morning, I always try to to post where I’m going. I just try to stay on top of that, to let people know. I’ve had people come all the way down to Green Valley because of Twitter,” says Jamie Castro, Chef and Owner of Jamie’s Bitchen Kitchen.
It’s also possible to schedule your tweets in advance, which is a great way to queue location notices for the week ahead. Check out Twuffer, TweetDeck, Future Tweets and Hootsuite for starters, then double-check your Twitter account to make sure the tweets made it through as planned.
And when you’re done with one gig, you might want to tweet about your next one, to create a little anticipation among people who missed out.
2. Get Discovered … Online.
Not everyone uses Twitter, which means you need to cross-link all your social networking accounts so people on one site can find you on another. Mention your Facebook link on Twitter and include your Twitter link on your Facebook Info page. If you have a Web site, consider adding links to all the places you post online.
Hungry folks often take to the Web to search for last minute dinner ideas. Now’s your opportunity to be visible. Take advantage of Twitter search by adding hashtags to selected posts. Hashtags are basically keywords preceded by a pound (#) or number sign. For example, in my hometown, you might add #Tucson #Arizona #foodtrucks to the end of your first post for the day. Search engines, Tweetchat and other sites will index your tweets by keywords and hashtags, and you’ll make new friends more easily.
With Selective Tweets on Facebook, you can even choose which tweets are shared on your Facebook page. Of course, you may find that your fans on Twitter may be interested in different information than your fans on Facebook. Sharing the same posts between sites could take a little fine-tuning, but don’t worry, there are plenty of tools available to measure your effectiveness, too. Look into TweetBeep and TweetEffect to help you analyze your posts so you can decide which tweets are working for you.
3. Reward New Fans and Loyal Customers
Many businesses unintentionally “choose sides” by rewarding either new customers or established ones. You can’t afford to alienate either group of people, so take care of them both. Different ways to do this include offering a freebie, a discount or a hidden menu item, perhaps limited to those who mention the tweet when they show up at your truck.
This tweet tactic gives you yet another way to measure how well you’re doing on Twitter. If someone says, “I saw your tweet” — or responds to your Facebook post, as shown in the Pin-Up Pastries example below — you know your hard work in social media is paying off.
Your reward doesn’t always have to be something you give away, either. A simple word of thanks can help show your appreciation, too.
4. Respond to Messages Quickly and Honestly
First, think of Twitter as your virtual restaurant hostess or manager: it’s important to make sure people know you are really listening.
“My wife, Erika Munoz, has a degree in marketing so she manages the web site, Facebook and Twitter. We both spend time reading posts and interacting with our fans and followers every day. This is key to growing our business,” shares Jake J. Munoz of Seis Curbside Kitchen and Catering.
Second, never, ever delete negative comments. There’s nothing worse than trying to sweep bad news under the rug. In this day of Internet archives, re-tweets and viral images, you can’t take the chance of looking like you’re hiding something. (Come to think of it, it was never a good idea to hide bad stuff anyway. It always comes back to bite you.)
5. Toot Your Food Truck’s Horn
Customers want you to share your knowledge as a chef, with a little peek behind the scenes, too. Post tidbits about how you prep for a festival, where you source your food, how to buy fruit, anything that shows you are a professional at what you do.
Want to make folks drool? Post pictures and descriptions of your food. Tweet a picture from your Facebook page, upload it through your iPhone Twitter mobile app or email it to your Twitpic account.
And finally, remember that food trucks rely on their local community to sustain them, so be an active part of it. Create buzz, show you care and reveal your personality.
As Kenn Goldman of Dragoon Cafe says, “Never stop informing, educating or helping your fellow foodies or food truck pioneers!”
And on that note, let’s end this blog post with “Happy Tweeting!”