Mobile Meals: Connecting With The Best Meals On Wheels

 

Social media may have unintentionally begun defy the norm of the traditional lunch hour. Working in a busy midtown New York City office I can attest to this as I’ve closely watched the noon lunch hour continue to prematurely creep ever so slightly to 11:59, 11:57, even early as 11:46. The reason? An all out effort by employees to anticipate the rush and get their hands on whatever gastro-delight the day’s nearest specialty food truck is serving up.

Fresh luncheon ideas and unique culturally inspired dishes tend to set these food trucks apart from your ordinary hot dog cart. Yet culinary ingenuity is not the only way in which these mobile eating destinations distinguish themselves. Equally as important, many of these trucks compliment good food with an innovative social media centric business plan. Location, location, location has always played a definitive part in both the identity and ultimately the success of any restaurant. When constantly on the move, as is the nature of a food truck’s business, this can present an obstacle to building recognition. This is where social media steps in to play an integral role in a food truck’s ability to harness a sense of identity. And, the recipe is arguably simpler than anything these trucks are cooking up.

Hot spots in any city have always thrived and died on the word of mouth. Platforms such Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare offer the perfect channel for restaurants to ignite and amplify the impact of word of mouth. A traditional static restaurant may still be able go about their business in lieu of any social media. For a food truck however, whose presence in a given location literally comes and goes every day, a strong social media identity drives their business. The most powerful tactic, judging from the office buzz I touched on earlier, involves trucks blasting followers via various social media outlets on their intended locations about twenty minutes prior to arriving at that spot. In doing so, the truck need not wait for customers to come to them. They effectively bypass the customer traffic uncertainty associated with taking up new locations daily by creating their own buzz and directly seeking out their customers.

In addition to the operational component social media plays in this business plan, it also fuels the growth and development of customer relationships. Ploys aimed towards promoting viral grow of their reach on social networks often include trucks offering rewards for customers tweeting, sharing, or commenting on their experience. (Now who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?) It all comes full circle after a few successful hours of business when trucks add a nice socially conscious touch by thanking their customers for coming out across the same social media networks that brought them there in the first place.

One of my favorite NYC food trucks (both for their food and their commanding social media scheme) is @seoulfoodnyc. The truck features a Korean spins on Mexican dishes such as Kalbi short rib tacos with kimichi aioli, cilantro lime onions, sesame seeds and lettuce. Upon walking up to the truck you get a nice waft of simmering meat and spices. A friendly attendant will welcome you and pass you a sharp looking menu flyer (also if you mention to him the day’s password advertised on Facebook you’ll score yourself a free taco). The front of the menu features their Twitter name @seoulfoodnyc and Facebook page seoulfoodnyc along with a witty hash tag #feedyourseoul. The truck is painted with a Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare logo offering a free taco for anyone who respectively likes, posts a pic, follows, tweets, or checks in with the truck. Along with social media proficiency, the truck also displays a savvy Ipad interface to facilitate operation. The set-up allows the person at the front of the truck to plug orders into an Ipad, swipe a credit card and then send a receipt to a customer’s email. The Ipad in the front of the truck sends the order to an Ipad in the back of the truck where the cooks whip up your order. The truck is also equipped additional personnel and bikes to deliver orders placed via phone or online at Seamless.com within a reasonable delivery range. If all of this doesn’t provide you enough of a wow factor just wait until you take a bite of the food!

What are your favorite food trucks serving up? Feel free to comment on your favorite food trucks and some of the best social media tactics they employ.

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