SXSW2012: Food Trucks Share Social Media Tips

SXSW2012: Food Trucks Share Social Media Tips Picture

From New York to Los Angeles, Korean barbecue to waffles, food trucks are popping up across the country and taking the nation by storm. Kicking storefronts to the curb, chefs and entrepreneurs are hitting the pavement to sell their culinary creations on wheels—more affordably and innovatively than if they’d been boxed in by a four-wall restaurant.

Food trucks have harnessed social media and 140 character messages to connect directly with customers and to create cult followings through grassroots marketing. Social media marketing has been critical to build a name, to inform thousands of potential customers about moving locations in a timely manner, and directly engage with customer base. What can marketers from all walks learn from the strong social media engagement tactics and apply them to their brands?

The panel will include nationwide food trucks and previous cast members from The Great Food Truck Race.

Bob Madden
GM Food Network Digital Properties

Social Media, Digital and Food Trucks


  • James Disabatino, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
  • Stephanie Morgan, Seabirds Truck
  • Daniel Shemton, Lime Truck

Food trucks are a start up business.

About Food Truck Culture

  • Interesting food, diverse menu, made from scratch in the truck, under $10
  • Boston: Food Trucks not allowed prior to the show, narrow streets, August went from 2 food trucks to 20
  • Vegan Truck, Orange County, fruits and vegetables sourced from local farms, had to give away a lot of samples. if you are in a niche be prepared to give stuff away and explain what you are doing.

How did social media become a big part of Food Trucks

  • Tell people where you are located
  • Facebook and Twitter to find out where the food trucks are located on a particular day
  • Pictures drive traffic on FB, crew, farmers, food.
  • Social media to talk about successes and failures, the process of starting a food truck, transparency (sourcing food, prepped, how it is put on the truck)
  • Let people see inside business to gain their trust

How to manage?

  • Grammatical errors: Too many people were criticizing. Let someone else manage. Personality of the business must shine through. “By the beard of zeus…”
  • Brand is an extension of the personality of whoever is writing.
  • Must do it yourself in the beginning. Must be engaged with and know the customer.

How to build a brand through social media?

  • How do you make it more than just tweeting your location
  • Be honest, authentic
  • Old guys singing are funny, “I believe in a thing called love”
  • Taking liberties to do things that are fun
  • Show behind the scenes
  • Giveaways to reach a demographic
  • Getting engaged with the customers
  • Contacting people above you in the food chain to grow your followers

How do you cultivate community?

  • Search based on niche and then follow those people
  • RT, Repost, respond to contacts.
  • Celebrities help boost business

How do you think about the different types of Social Media?

  • Yelp! - The most powerful tool for food trucks
  • Bad responses, you have to make it better
  • Twitter allows you to be a little more edgy
  • Facebook and Twitter - Link Facebook to Twitter
  • Twitter to connect with people.
  • Don’t just say “Thanks” find some way to stand out in response
  • Do a couple very well as opposed to doing all of them half-way
  • SM is about creating a two-way conversation, creating a dialog
  • Any avenue is just an extension of the dialog
  • On Food Truck Race, had to use it to research
  • Be active, time consuming rather than writing a check
  • Word of mouth, buzz

How do you build loyalty through Social Media?

  • Go the extra mile to start the conversation
  • Everyone wants to be a regular “Norm”
  • People want to be appreciated
  • Transparency = Loyalty
  • Create bonds
  • Not using it for short term tactics
  • More valuable to feel connected
  • Menu changes every week - vote on what you want on the menu this week
  • Menu changed every day - only posted on FB, TW
  • Direct line to customers

Downside of Social Media?

  • No religion or politics on business account
  • No drinking and tweeting
  • Grammer, spelling, autocorrect, pay attention to details
  • Not engaging the customers
  • Not an advertising the platform, a conversation platform

Business Tips

  • Hire a good accountant!
  • Owner / Operator - 16 - 17 hour days
  • Grueling
  • Must be passionate
  • Complete dedication
  • Find a partner
#sxsw #foodtruck

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
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