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Today’s Lunch Special — Food Trucks and Social Media
By: Andy Weiss
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Location. Location. Location. That’s the name of the game for any retail business and it’s especially true for the food truck business. The success on any given day for these roving food establishments is based on where they can park and the foot traffic they can drum up. Since these restaurants on wheels are not tethered to single location and its corresponding trade area, they are free to go where the customers are each day of the week. However, that flexibility comes with a challenge of making sure that the customer base knows where the food truck will be and when. Enter social media.
Most of the successful food trucks have turned to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and mobile apps like TruxMap and Eat St. to spread the word and keep fans informed. Given the limited space, some are using social media to communicate availability of menu items. Others offer exclusive deals and promotions to their followers. And some of the more create are dabbling into crowdsourcing to generate menu ideas. They offer great case studies and insights on how to create an immediate value exchange, establish loyalty and build advocacy that can be ported to other categories.
In fact, the thriving popularity of the food truck communities in places like New York, Los Angeles, and Austin combined with the popular Food Network show helped contribute to pent up demand in Chicago. Finally in the summer of 2011, the stars aligned and food trucks were able to roam the streets of the Chicago Loop and surrounding neighborhoods — albeit with some restrictions. Taking a page for their cohorts in other markets, the Chicago food trucks applied the same social media practices to publicize their schedules, drive foot traffic, and build followings. Not surprisingly, business took off and people noticed. But now it appears those social campaigns are being used against them. Lately, there has been a crack down by City Council and the Chicago Police on just where the food trucks can operate. Curiously, Chicago’s finest have been on location and ready to issue tickets as the trucks pull up. Perhaps they too are following the trucks on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the Author
Andy Weiss is a digital direct marketer, consumer evangelist, change agent, and cultural anthropologist.
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