I have been working with the Kona Street Eatz Mobile Food Zone since early February and I am sharing food truck marketing insights as a case study about what tactics have really moved the needle in getting awareness built up and customers coming in. As part of my work on the project, I go to the “Zone” each Friday and eat. That’s a pretty cool aspect of the job! If you are truly going to market ANYTHING, you have to be invested authentically in the product.
I have had a chance to sample items from each food truck/vendor over the course of the past few months and have had the pleasure of listening to the background story from each vendor. By listening and talking story with the entrepreneur chefs, I can write about them from my gut, which makes people more connected to the story and the food I share on social media. If you are going to market a product, you have to market the story of the person behind the product.
“Fish” the owner of the “Jawaiian” food truck, Cool Runnings, has a great back story of coaching a local AYSO team for years, although he does not have children. He did it because he cared about kids growing up with the values taught by soccer. He gets many of his interesting ingredients from an elderly woman whom he helps each week on her farm. I learned about Fish helping her when he was serving me his Kabocha squash bread, which he made using the Kabocha he received as a thank you gift. Joaquin is a French trained chef and owns Kona Dogs Hawaii. I have tried his hot dogs once…but I have enjoyed his fried plantains, crab stuffed avocados, sautéed veggie wrap, bbqed sweet corn and a few other speciality items he serves each week. He is a joy to watch as he passionately discusses his love of cooking to the delight of his guests. All of the vendors believe that they are really the only ones who could do what they can do with the kind of quality and passion each dish deserves to be served with. Enjoying food from professionals who put passion into each moment of a dish’s birth, just feels good to eat, and I have really enjoyed bringing their cuisine and story to hundreds of people who have liked the Facebook page and have seen the dishes displayed on Instagram!
Here are 7 first hand marketing tips that have worked very well for the past few months to take the Facebook account from zero to over 700 fans in four months.
7 Social Media Marketing Tips For Food Trucks and Mobile Food Zones
- Boost your posts. Yes. you have to spend money on Facebook, otherwise people just won’t see your posts. I have been using $5-$10 a week to great success in getting more fans through sharing of content.
- Use video. People love seeing short, interesting video clips on Facebook. I have asked the vendors to give me a “30 second elevator pitch” about their food and each video has gotten over 300 views. Once I create the content for the Kona Street Eatz page, each vendor can then use that content for their own marketing, as well.
- Create interesting “marketing” food photos with the OVER app. People like to see people on Facebook and pretty pictures on Instagram. So I use filters and take cool food shots and then use the Over app to write over the photo to bring my marketing message in an interesting visual to Instagram.
- Create an interesting and unique hashtag for marketing. I created the #FoodTruckFridayKona hashtag to use for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- Track your analytics. By using the analytics that Facebook provides for each boosted post, I can see who I am reaching and what gets the most shares and likes, so I know I am going in the right direction of the content I am creating. If something is a dud, I know it and don’t do it again. Instagram is now releasing stats that can be used to keep your marketing fresh and focused, too.
- Share your enthusiasm. If I LOVE something I have eaten at one of the food trucks, I GUSH about it on Facebook and I take a photo of it and recommend it on Instagram. People love recommendations, so give it to them, authentically.
- Invite your friends! I have invited my friends and fans from my “365 Things to Do in Kona” page to meet me for lunch at the Zone. I have photographed them enjoying their lunch and posted it to Facebook. Like I said, people like photos of people on Facebook and the bonus is that my friends have then shared the photos in their social sphere, as well.
Below are photos I have taken during my time working with Kona Street Eatz so you can get ideas for your own social media pages. Please feel free to contact me if you need marketing consulting for your restaurant, food truck or mobile food truck zone project at Julie@Ziemelis.com.
(Kona Street Eatz is a pilot project funded by the County of Hawaii and can be found near down town on Kuakini Highway near West Hawaii Today.)