Social media lessons from food trucks
Recently, I went to a workshop about social media usage by food trucks. Food trucks had to jump on the bandwagon of social media. They move all the time, and they needed a way to effectively blast out their locations. That’s how social media (and mobile phone) became the perfect megaphone.
Even so, all the food truck operators at the workshop focused on the “social” aspect of social media. In fact, they value it. In a normal restaurant situation, a chef sends out a dish, and rarely hears feedback. A server may ask “how’s everything?”. And when you say “great”, that feedback rarely gets back to the kitchen. Social media allows the fans a new way to engage with the food trucks. And the food trucks all have established a practice to engage back. Many food trucks have practices of responding to every tweet. I would say many big-time corporations haven’t adopted this practice.
The food truck operators also reminded the audience that “social” means more than just interacting. But “social” means interacting with a personality (or a brand). It’s not just about “thanks for stopping by, and stop by again to buy us again”. It’s not just about selling. It’s about just engaging. It’s about have a conversation. Humor is usually helpful here (if it fits with your brand). In this regard, it’s not surprising to learn that for most food truck operators, they have a designated few who tweet for the brand. This is how they keep their tweets light and not rigid. At the same time, all tweets would have the some tone and feel. This way, customers can feel like they are engaging one brand – not one that experiences schizophrenia. Who’s that person that will be the voice of your brand on the social media space?
In this day and age, social media is becoming increasingly important to the food trucks. Beyond engaging with their customers, social media is also their pathway to traditional media. When a successful blogger picks up a story, that story may get picked up by New York Times because New York Times monitors the blogsphere for leads. So, any public relations efforts nowadays must include social media as well as traditional media. You have to cover your bases.