D.C. Food Trucks Use Social Media As An Essential Marketing Tool

2013-10-24 12.29.38

Virtually all of the nearly 200 food trucks that roam the streets of the District and its surroundings use Twitter or Facebook as their essential marketing tools. However, not all food truck businesses use the same strategy.

Food trucks move all the time as they park in multiple locations during the day. And they do not go to the same places every day. Therefore, food trucks and hungry customers must find each other every day. Twitter and Facebook turn out to be the ideal communication channel to facilitate this search.

“For food trucks, social media is really important. Every day, once we arrive to our location we tweet to let our customers know that we are there. And if you go to Food Truck Fiesta, when we tweet, the app locates your food truck in a map. Customers often go to the map to see which food trucks are in the area,” says Robert Step, the manager of Burgorilla, a food truck that serves gourmet burgers.

2013-10-24 12.29.53Almost all D.C. food trucks use at least one social media channel. According to our social media database that includes 200 food trucks in the D.C. area by the end of October 2013, the median values (or middle values) for the number of Twitter ‘followers’ and Facebook ‘likes’ were 478 and 250, respectively. However the intensity in which they use social media is highly widespread across trucks. The trucks we studied had between 15 and 24,466 Twitter ‘followers’ and between 0 and 25,375 Facebook ‘Likes’. Of course, this result is explained in part by the time in business, but the review of the different social media accounts also reflects the relevance each of the food trucks gives to social media tools.

When visiting the different social media accounts, one realizes that some food trucks take this issue very seriously. They have a defined, disciplined and consistent strategy with a very own style and language. In addition to sharing their whereabouts, they tweet or post their regular and special menus, promotions and engage in conversations with customers through comments, replies and re-tweets. They also post their stories, photos of their main dishes or of their managers, employees and best clients. All this enables them to build a personal brand, generate a customer loyalty and bring a sense of community to their business.

“We have Facebook, Twitter and our own website,” says Moustafa Shokry, manager of the Tasty Kabob. “We tweet about the locations of our three food trucks in D.C.. But also, we answer people requests and questions on a daily basis. We receive requests as ‘today we need potatoes’, or ‘today we want chickpeas’ or ‘we love your food’. Without social media we would not be as much as popular in D.C..”

While practically all the food trucks have a Twitter account not all of them use Facebook for their daily business. By the end of October, the 200 food trucks had altogether 290,806 Twitter ‘followers’ and 132,235 Facebook ‘Likes’. That means that there was 2.2 Twitter ‘followers’ per one Facebook ‘like”. This suggests that D.C. food truck industry use more intensively Twitter than Facebook.  “Facebook is mostly to say, ‘hey, how you doing!’. Twitter is mostly like to talk to someone right in front of you,” says Shokry.

Here is a list of the 7 most active food trucks in social media (data collected on 12/14/2013).

Twitter

Facebook

Twitter

 

Followers

Likes

Tweets

Curbside Cupcakes Food Truck

16,853

25,448

25,625

Red Hook Lobster Pound Food Truck

26,466

11,004

8,965

DC Empanadas Food Truck

7,805

1,668

7,972

DC Slices Food Truck

9,375

2,063

6,610

Fojol Bros Food Truck

12,519

2,776

5,337

Pleasant Pops Food Truck

5,356

3,886

4,236

Takorean Food Truck

10,569

2,354

3,809

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