Andy Howard

Aussie restaurants can tweet like food trucks

What an awesome time to run a cafe, restaurant, bar, pub or even a food truck.

“As a chef, I always think it’s the food, but I think without Twitter it wouldn’t be anything,” says Roy Choi of Kogi, LA’s tweeting food truck, “because I could have made these tacos, but I would have had no one to sell them to.”

Yelp has just launched in Australia, and this is a big deal. It’s another useful social media channel for Australian business owners. For cafe, restaurant, bar and pub owners, Yelp joins other channels like Eatability, Foodspotting, Google Places, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, amongst others. The question is which channels to use and how to use them. Yelp, Eatability and Google Places can all work for reviews and can be part of a local search strategy (Google mobile search integrates Google Places). Foodspotting gets meals in front of foodies. Yelp and Facebook are good for recognising checkins. Twitter and Facebook can enable conversations with the customer base (in Kogi’s case, the conversation is about where the food truck is). A blog provides an owned channel for communication and building a community of fans around the establishment. Other blogs are an earned channel for influencing a potential customer base.

How important is all of this stuff? VeryAustralia has the world’s highest social media engagement and second highest smartphone penetration (source: Google). Customers and potential customers are seeking reviews across social media channels and 2 in 5 of Australian smartphone owners use mobile search daily. How will they find you?

Social media and search extends beyond just being found and listening to feedback. You can also use it to give people what they want. Of the top food searches during 2011, “pork belly” is number 6. Understandable! Is it on your menu? From wine search interest, shiraz is roughly three times more popular than cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc in Australia. How’s your wine list weighted? Social and search data mining complements customer databases and surveys; together they can help revise menus to meet demand.

“Forget Spago Beverly Hills. The hottest place to eat in Los Angeles right now serves food out of a truck and owes a large part of its success to Twitter .. Choi credits a large degree of Kogi’s success to hiring a new media consultant.”

It’s about using the right channels to reach the right people, with the right story, in the right way. Here’s a news piece on Kogi.

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