By Lima | Eat St.
Being the Eat St. community manager means more than just talking about food and sharing food trends incessantly. It’s also about supporting food truck owners and entrepreneurs by sharing advice on how to run and market a successful mobile food business.
While the majority of food truck owners have figured out how to leverage their Facebook and Twitter presence for maximum exposure, reading Luke Chatelain’s recent Invoke blog post on paying attention to pins got me thinking — people in the food service industry really ought to expand their online marketing efforts to include social photo sharing sites, particularly Pinterest, seeing as how it has fast become one of the top 10 social media sites on the web. After some deep thinking, and a few hours of perusing food-related Pinterest pins, I’ve nailed down some advice on how to leverage Pinterest if you’re in the food business.
The foodtography trend
In a Mashable article posted in the spring of 2011, Todd Wasserman pontificates on the food photography, or foodtography, trend. It seems that anyone with a camera on their smart phone and a social media account inevitably starts snapping and sharing photos, many of which prominently feature food as the main subject.
This obsession has fuelled many a social photo sharing site and the foodtography group on Flickr is 2,500 members strong. A quick search of the tag #foodtruck on instagram yielded 2,975 photos, and the number increases with every passing breakfast, lunch and dinner.
But what the functionality of Pinterest allows, which beats out any other photo sharing site, is for users to curate all their food photos and style them in a way that visually communicates their brands’ culture and philosophy in a holistic manner. Not only that, but Pinterest makes the process of sharing other people’s content, via repinning, absolutely foolproof, allowing Pinterest users to connect with like-minded people. Let’s face it, facilitating two-way communication is the crux of any successful social media platform and as a photo-sharing platform Pinterest does this exceptionally well.
So how can a member of the food service industry leverage Pinterest to get noticed? Here are some ideas on the types of boards you can curate to communicate the culture of your brand.
Chefs of innovative cuisine do a lot of research to come up with interesting pairings that inform their final menus. Share photos of ingredients you especially love, cookbooks that you’ve sifted through, and images of chefs and prominent foodies who have inspired your career in food, even if those foodies happened to be mom or grandpa. If you can’t find this content readily online, Pinterest allows you to upload your own photos.
Share your life outside of work
These days, the social web calls for a level of transparency, so dig a little deeper and allow fans to connect with you on a more human level. Tell your own story through the photos and videos you share by showcasing your hobbies outside of work. After all, you are ultimately the representative of your culture and allowing people insights into your life is a great way to build better relationships with your fans and ensure their loyalty.
Pay tribute to your customers and fans with a fan board
Speaking of fan loyalty, why not dedicate an entire board to those people who enjoy your cuisine and embody your culture? Snap a photo of your customers enjoying your dishes and post them on a special board to inspire others to visit you and try your food.
The concepts of locavore cuisine and farm-to-table are becoming a staple of day-to-day consumption and a major part of many food trucks’ core modus operandi. Share photos of farms, farmers and the people who provide you with your ingredients, as well as photos of the ingredients themselves.
Post specials and menu items
Another unique Pinterest function is that you can actually attach a price tag to photos, so snap some pics of your menu items and specials and include the price tag for other’s knowledge. If you get enough likes or comments on a photo of a previously run special, perhaps you can bring it back into circulation and thank your fans for providing you with feedback. Better yet, offer added incentive for fans who mention that they saw your photo on Pinterest.
Ultimately, Pinterest shows your commitment to your community, from the people who source your product to those who purchase it and savour it. Carefully curating boards that showcase who you are and what your food is about helps connect all these dots and forge new connections with fans and followers. All your fans may not be using Pinterest yet, but stay ahead of the game and start building your expertly crafted boards now.