Food Trucks Driving Social Media Engagement to the Bank

Social Media Best Practices

In the movie “Chef”, a disgruntled chef gets into a much heated argument via Twitter not even realizing the power of social media engagement. Later in the movie, the chef’s son leverages his father’s new social infamy to communicate the next location where their new food truck will be arriving.

Much to the amazement of the chef himself, the son’s social media prowess results in much fanfare and long lines the moment they arrive in a new town.

Movie Chef Social Media Engagement

Photo Courtesy of: The Atlantic

This movie showed two key learnings:

  1. Social media is a powerful tool (which you already knew), and
  2. Small businesses, like food trucks, can leverage social media engagement to win amidst a competitive market.

How Can Social Media Help Food Trucks Survive and Thrive?

Food trucks are some of the smallest of small businesses, and the competition is often fierce. Food trucks fail at an alarming rate…but not all of them. In fact, some have become wildly successful. Faced with the unique challenges of a mobile business – such as no fixed location or hours – how do some food trucks survive and thrive? For some, the answer is social media.

To find out what successful food trucks are doing right, I searched for the most-talked-about moveable feast makers and loaded five of them into a Rival IQ landscape. Here’s what I found.

Food trucks social media engagement

Photo Courtesy of: Kevin Stanchfield

5 Tips to Heat Up Your Social Media

Tip #1: Use Multiple Social Media Channels

My first question was: Where can you find food trucks on social media?

The answer: Several channels. Successful trucks are using a variety of channels to stay in touch and engage with their customers.

Not surprisingly for B2C companies, the channels where all the trucks have a presence are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, where they can really show off great photos of food and their trucks!

Food trucks on social media channels

Source: Rival IQ Social Channel Matrix

Tip #2:  Build Your Audience and Activity

Presence is one thing, but these trucks are active, too! Not sure when they have time to post as they are driving around, cooking and serving up home cooking, but they are finding a way. The Grilled Cheese Truck (yum!) is leading the way with 138,000 followers across those three social channels, and the most posts. Over a 7 day period, the Grilled Cheese Truck posted 102 times, primarily on Twitter and Facebook. Wow!!

Food trucks social audience and activity

Source: Rival IQ Cross Social Metrics

Even the “smallest” of the trucks has over 30,000 followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which is still impressive.

Tip #3: Post Content that Engages!

In terms of engagement, Coolhaus is killin’ it on instagram. Coolhaus is a gourmet ice cream truck in Los Angeles. I’ll confess that, while I am incredibly curious, I can’t say I’d be eager to try avocado sriracha ice cream. Nope. Not even a little. However, brown butter candied bacon — I’m all in.

Food trucks social media engagement

Source: Rival IQ Social Engagement

I wanted to dig into this engagement a bit more and see what posts are driving this interaction. Unsurprisingly, pictures of food won the day. Chi-lantro BBQ and the Peached Tortilla are also scoring some strong engagement on Instagram.

food trucks instagram top content

Source: Rival IQ Top Content


On Facebook, the engagement winner is the Grilled Cheese Truck – they are clearly focusing on this channel. Beyond engagement, The Grilled Cheese Truck also does a great job working cross channel, including hashtaging Instagram in its Facebook posts.  Nice work!

Food trucks Facebook engagement

Photo Courtesy of: Rival IQ Top Content


Tip #4:  Use Engaging Hashtags

As you can see on the Instagram posts above, Coolhaus is doing a great job using fun and searchable hashtags on Instagram, like #icecream, #yogurt, #pretzels and more! In looking at the top content on Facebook and Twitter, these food trucks continue to do a great job leveraging hashtags.

Too frequently, folks forget to follow hashtag best practices. So, use these food trucks as models for your own social media marketing!

food trucks facebook hashtags

To drive engagement, The Grilled Cheese Truck uses fun hashtags and photos.

Tip #5: Leverage the Buzz Around Your Company or Market

The buzz surrounding these trucks is incredible. For example, Coolhaus has been featured in dozens of articles from Forbes to the Food Network, and has even made television appearances.

Make sure your social media is extending and leveraging the buzz you or your market receives in other online media or offline activities.  Make social media part of your overall integrated marketing, so it all works together to drive awareness and business growth.

Food trucks media coverage

Coolhaus extends its media coverage, like this one in the Huffington Post, on social media.

Five years ago, The Grilled Cheese Truck was inspired by the 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational. Today, you can find the trucks dispensing melty goodness in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Texas. Many of them have raked in enough business to open brick-and-mortar restaurants, franchise, or buy a whole fleet of trucks. Not bad for a local micro-business.

I’m not saying social media is the only factor in the success of these food trucks, but it has made a significant impact.

Confession time

I love food trucks. But the trucks in my area are not big on social media. As a result, they lose my business. If I can’t find them when I’m thinking about it, the moment passes. And even though they have some fantastic food, you won’t find them mentioned on a national level – anywhere.

I’ve seen quite a few good ones fold, and not because of their food.

My advice to them: up your social media engagement, and I WILL come find you. In fact, tweet pictures of drool-worthy foodporn, and I’ll think about it all day. And when I tweet “Hey, where are you today?” Answer me immediately! (not a week later).

Sharon Black

Sharon Black is a veteran copywriter and marketer. She loves writing about the challenges and rewards of marketing, at least when she's not pondering the challenges facing her on World of Warcraft. She has been known to serve as part of the grammar police force, but mostly when she is in the official role as editor.

Ready to start analyzing?

Start measuring the impact of your social media campaigns with our 14-day free trial.

Start Your Free Trial