Over the last few years, food truck and food stand operators have become models in Social Media Marketing. In most cases, though the example they lead isn’t always the most fruitful or beneficial to new food trucks and food stands. In fact, most haven’t exploited a fraction of the free tools available to build brand loyalty, extend brand reach, and convert fans and followers to customers. Without a complete Social Media Marketing strategy, growing a fan base, and converting that fan base to customers is, for a lack of better words, frustrating and daunting. I recently wrote an article for Food Network’s Eat St., outlining the basic structure of a Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy.
The key point in the article is understanding that a Social Media Marketing strategy is a cycle – it includes understanding customer needs, utilizing appropriate tools, building loyalty, increasing fans/followers, and converting those fans and followers into customers.
Engagement is the secret weapon of successful Social Media Marketing strategies; it’s the very core of a strategy. Simply stated, it’s about developing relationships and engaging in conversations with people. Before you can engage, you need to understand who your fans and customers are.
When you understand what makes your fans and customers tick, you’ll engage with them in a way that they can relate to. In my Eat St. article, I talked about my friend Stephanie Barr, chef / owner at Sinful Pleasures Dessert Co., a vintage-themed dessert (and more) food trailer in Oldsmar, FL and how she often talks about her vintage collectable “scavenger hunts,” as she treks about in search of the next greatest find.
So what’s the bottom line? It’s simple – not easy, but it is rather simple. Learn how a variety of communications channels work with each other, and how they operate independently. People communicate differently on Twitter, than they do on Facebook, for example. Add video and photos to your social network agenda. Create a Youtube channel, post photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You get the point.
Your social network should consist of:
- Business listing on Google Places
- Blog + email opt-in
- Facebook Page
- Twitter Page
- Google+ Profile
- Youtube Channel
- Pinterest Page
- Instagram Account
- Listing on the Eat St Mobile App for iPhone
While each of these channels interrelates with the other, they are unique and operate quite differently. It’s vital that you understand the role of keywords and their specific application within each of the social networks, in order to get customers off their keyboards and standing in front of your order window.
Building loyalty into your brand, extending your brand reach, and converting fans and followers into customers are the three main goals of Social Media Marketing. The road to becoming a Social Media Marketing Ninja can be long and arduous in the beginning, but once the foundation is established, the rest is all about applying a consistent effort.
Finally, close your social network circle with in-person interaction by attending events, vending at events, attending or hosting meet-ups, and establishing relationships with organizers, organizations, and businesses. In short, be an active member in your community both online and in-person.
Converting fans into customers requires a consistent effort, focused on developing an engaging relationship with fans. Creating campaigns that attract customers (rather than fans), offering a special discount or coupon to convert fans or attract new fans, and creating a thank-you campaign to start conversations with new fans or followers are a few techniques mobile food vendors use to convert fans to customers.
If you do your research, understand your customers and their needs, establish a plan and framework, then engage with fans and those you follow consistently, you’re well on your way to unleashing the Social Media Marketing Ninja in your food truck business.