One of the best parts of working in D.C. is easy access to the hundreds of amazing mobile lunch options that have sprung up over the past couple of years, and now often park themselves just steps away from our office door.
There are now more than 100 food trucks registered in D.C., and another 50 or so in the surrounding area. More than most types of businesses, food trucks use social media not only for building exposure and brand love; they uniquely use social media as a high-priority tactic to directly drive sales.
Food trucks are also using social media as a customer service tool, to craft their menus, engage, and exchange feedback with customers – listening to suggestions and complaints, and responding accordingly.
So who’s doing it the best? We crunched some numbers from the current, complete list of DC area food trucks on Washingtonian’s Food Truck Fiesta to find the answer, and here’s what we found:
The Playing Field:
Twitter: 100%: All 145 current food trucks in the DC area are on Twitter.
Average followers: 1,668
Facebook: 75%: 109 of 145 food trucks in the DC area are on Facebook.
Average Likes: 806
Others: 15%: 21 of 145 food trucks in the DC area are using other social channels including Yelp (10), Email (5), YouTube (5), Foursquare (4), Google+ (3), StunbleUpon (3), Reddit (2), Urban Spoon (1), Delicious (1), Digg (1), Blogger (1).
The Top 5 Social Food Trucks:
Based on combined Twitter and Facebook reach, these trucks have something to teach the field:
1. Curbside Cupcakes
Twitter followers: 15,003
Facebook likes: 24,598
Total Reach: 39,601
2. Red Hook Lobster Pound
Twitter followers: 25,082
Facebook likes: 10,185
Total Reach: 35,267
3. Fojol Bros
Twitter followers: 12,079
Facebook likes: 2,382
Total Reach: 14,461
4. Takorean (Photo by Scott F.)
Twitter followers: 9,168
Facebook likes: 2,023
Total Reach: 11,191
5. DC Slices
Twitter followers: 8,504
Facebook likes: 1,688
Total Reach: 10,192
Our Tips for the Field:
Here are our five tips for food trucks on the best ways to use social media:
1. Post to Twitter early and often: Post at least 3 tweets a day (preferably more), even on weekends, to sustain engagement and allow customers to plan their visit.
2. Post to Facebook less often, 1 – 2x per day, and not more than 3 times. People’s expectations on Facebook and Twitter are different, and the platforms should be treated accordingly. Over-posting to Facebook reduces the visibility of each post (Facebook will deliver each post to users’ timelines less frequently), and Facebook fans are more likely to get annoyed by too many posts showing up in their timelines. Maximize the reach of each post by posting only a couple of times per day, and making each post reflect something that’s a high priority, like your location, or a special menu item.
3. Include photos: Always include photos in Facebook posts to get maximum visibility in customers’ timelines, and use photos on Twitter to add character and info to your tweets. Photos, even more than video, get high engagement on social media – so make your camera phone an asset in your social media strategy.
4. Practice great customer service: Follow-up with thank you shout-outs and photos on Twitter for special clients or events. Pay attention to suggestions and complaints, and always respond with a smile.
5. Give people extra reasons to follow and share your content. Offer special deals to fans and followers, and make them want to share your content. It’s great to spread the love to loyal customers, and also a good way to get visibility with new customers through your current supporters. A recommendation from a friend is some of the best advertising you can get.
Who’s Your Favorite?
Is your favorite DC food truck on the list? Tell us who you love — share this post on Twitter or Facebook with a tag for your favorite food truck!
Zach Kahn, one of the amazing iSL Interns, contributed to this article.