A new industry is emerging in the world of eats—and it’s growing at an accelerated rate. Dubbed “the shooting stars of lunchtime” (shout out to Chicago Magazine) food trucks have become all the rage. Serving everything from cupcakes to grilled cheese, soup to tamales—and everything else in between—these meals on wheels are surefire crowd pleasers for any time of day.
The popularity of food trucks is fast moving, for sure, but when you’re never in the same place at the same time, how do you develop a dependable relationship with your customers? That’s where another newly emerging market comes in: social media. With similar reliance on speed and flexibility, social media and food trucks go together like peanut butter and jelly. I had the opportunity to talk with a number of food trucks to get the low-down on how they have utilized social media to bring their brand online.
One of the most popular uses for social media, it seems, is to be able to inform customers, especially about location and new product offerings. Since food trucks historically don’t have reliable brick and mortar addresses, it is important for companies to be able to quickly inform their customers of their whereabouts.
“Social media definitely allows us to be more flexible. With the industry being relatively new, a lot of times we have to be able to think on our feet. Most of the places we go are pre-vetted—but sometimes we have to switch locations at the drop of a dime, and we rely heavily on social media for that,” said Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery Director of Parties & Events Gina Veneziano.
Owner and “Soupologist” of Soups in the Loop, Chugger Lupo, favors marketing his food truck over social media channels for the speed of information delivery.
“Instead of printing and mailing thousands of flyers, we are able to reach out to our customer base instantly with menu updates, daily deals and upcoming specials.
Food trucks also popularly use social media in order to create an ongoing dialogue with their customers, rather than solely hawking their products. Creating a relatable and engaging brand personality to foster relationships with customers is a valuable way to make connections and increase repeat customers. Visitors can quickly ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ their experiences, which results in solid word of mouth marketing, and creates buzz for the brand and product. However, this function does not come without complications.
“With social media being so real-time and easy to quickly talk about the products, it’s just as easy for people to complain. They could be posting right then and there on our Twitter, and it’s out there in front of everyone right away,” said Veneziano.
Overall, social media offers a direct line between companies looking to deliver information with both flexibility and speed to their customers and the industry. Although this all-access avenue can sometimes create complications, the benefits always outweigh the risks.
“The feedback we receive from our customers—whether it be constructive criticism or positive praise—helps us to become the best food truck, and standard in soup, on the streets of Chicago we can be,” said Lupo.
Follow both trucks on Twitter at @SoupsInTheLoop and @MyToastyCheese.