The street food scene has been growing steadily in the UK for the past few years however, the spiritual home of street food remains the USA. Truly itinerant trading is currently far more acceptable – and legal, in the US. In fact it has become so widespread that ways of regulating or even banning itinerant trading in certain areas are being looked at in several states and cities across the pond. The twitter social media site is largely credited as being key to the growth in the American street food industry as it allows traders to let their customers know where, when and what they will be selling at very short notice and for FREE!
Apart from the fact that it’s a free way of marketing your business, it is one of the few ways of letting your customer’s know in a timely manner where you will be trading. It is considerably easier to sell more to existing customers than to find new customers to sell to. If someone likes your Korean Burritos, why not let them know where and when they will be able to get them again, they may even take their friends along!
Get the most out of Twitter
What is Twitter??
Twitter is a social media site that allows you to communicate immediately with your customers, friends and associates. It is very popular amongst the trendy young things who may well be your target audience; however, as social media become more and more prevalent – so will the value of twitter. At the time of writing twitter has around 145 million registered users world-wide.
Twitter allows you to post ‘tweets’ – messages of up to 140 characters that your customers can receive through their phones or the internet. Anyone signed up to the site can then ‘follow you’ on twitter, meaning that your tweets are sent to their phone or email. You start by ‘following’ businesses or people through the site and then they will hopefully ‘follow’ you back. You can encourage this by commenting on their tweets, if they like your tweets there is a good chance they will follow you and you have connected with a potential customer. You can also ‘re-tweet’ the comments made by other users, this will often encourage them to sign up to your tweets.
Here are some tips for developing your Business through Twitter :
1. Find your target market.
It all starts with getting relevant followers that want to know where you are and what you are doing. Like traditional forms of marketing, accessing your target market is vital to ensure that you do not waste time marketing to people who are unlikely to want your produce. This doesn’t necessarily mean pouring over statistics about demographics or hiring (often) expensive marketing firms. This means doing the market research, see which potential customers will want your product and making your tweets relevant and interesting to them. If you sell rare T-Bone steaks there is little point in following or tweeting the vegetarian society.
If you are selling burgers on the streets of Newcastle there is very little point in pursuing twitter followers in London, New York or Tokyo. Avoid chasing customers who are unlikely ever to get access to your product
You do not have to read and reply to every tweet, your followers certainly won’t. Do not waste your time by tweeting every ten minutes as people will get sick of it and stop reading what you have to say. Running a small business is time consuming enough without spending all your time dreaming up that perfect tweet that will get your business more customers, it just doesn’t work like that. Keep it friendly and fun but don’t over play the value of twitter for bringing in new customers. The real value for street traders is letting customers who already know who you are, know where you are going to be and when. Or by creating demand (see below).
4. Be concise and interesting
You’ll have to be concise with only 140 characters to use, however, the more interesting your twitter feed the more likely it is that people will follow you and then actually respond.
7. Keep it Personal
Twitter is not about high level information or highbrow subjects, as far as you are concerned Twitter is about creating you as a brand, and as a person and the food that you create as being special, in other words you have to humanize your business & let your followers connect with you. Send your tweets as a person not as a business. Why not post inspiring quotes, everyone loves a good soundbite. Share some life wisdom with others and remember: “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” (Oscar Wilde). Add photos of yourself or your food or even something interesting you’ve seen, re-post an article and see if you can start a debate. As long as you keep it interesting and personal people will respond.
6. Create demand.
It’s all about creating an impulse, your tweet has to have something in it that makes the follower want to track you down and buy some food, so your Tweets have to be compelling, making the followers mouth water and want to get out and find you.
There are many ways of doing this some tweet their daily specials, or a price deal. The important thing is that there has to be a purpose, you are not a movie star, your followers are not really interested in the colour of your pants, if it’s not relevant don’t tweet it.
7. Keep everyone informed of what’s going on
For example if for some reason you can’t make it to your venue it’s a great way to inform your followers and keep them on your side, you may even get their sympathy where as if you just didn’t turn up you may well loose a few customers. If you are running half an hour late, let people know by twitter. These things show that you really care about your followers and further adds a human face to your business
8. Gather customer feedback
You might use it to get a petition up if you are having issues about your trading license or the fact that you are losing your regular pitches or stopping points.
How about getting feedback on your food there’s another use, even ask what your competitors are doing
9. Run Promotions
How about running meal promotions and specials? Your followers will begin to readily anticipate them.
10. Create a sense of community
Organizing face-to-face tweetups for your followers is one way of extending your community into the offline world. For instance arrange a special night at a pub where you are doing the food and drink with special rates for your followers. The Towpath festivals in North London last year were promoted by a group of caterers who all tweeted the same event and got as many customers between them to come to their food festival.
11. Integrate your efforts
Twitter is only one tool in your social media tool box, don’t forget u tube, Facebook and all the others out there, they all play their part, just don’t get too addicted to it otherwise you won’t have time to make any food.