Last week, I happened to be walking around the city with a visiting friend from Hongkong, when I came across a dessert truck, parked right up on our street. Now, there are a million and a half food trucks in Manhattan, and atleast a few thousand are dessert trucks. Nothing new. Except that this one called “Wafels and Dinges” served us the most succulent waffle I have ever had in my entire life.If you know about New York City food trucks, you would know that they do not remain parked in one place day after day. They move around the city, parking wherever they can, pleasing a new set of customers each time. The only way to know about their whereabouts is to give them a call. So you can imagine my surprise when, on asking for their number, the girl behind the counter told me “just follow us on twitter.” Err. Sure.
Track a truck on twitter (pardon the extended alliteration) is not something I ever expected to hear but sure enough it was there. And not only as a lifeless profile but an active stream with a respectable following, frequent updates and impressive interaction to begin with. I immediately got in touch with the team to find out a little more about their journey to twitter land and spoke to Joe Kurtz, operations manager of Wafels and Dinges, also the man behind the twitter handle. I would like to share the interview with you simply because I think that this is a great example of a small business leveraging social media to the fullest and one can definitely take a leaf or two out of their book:
Hi Joe, please tell us, when did you first think about having an account on Twitter and why?
We first started three and a half years ago in 2008, when we didn't use Twitter or anything else to let people know where we were going to be. We posted a tentative schedule on the website, but were always having parking troubles, so it was not always terribly accurate. It was, more or less, luck of the draw if you found us.
We needed a way for our customers to know where we were that was fast and easy to update. Twitter was just coming into popularity. It just seemed to fit.
Currently, where does Twitter fit into your marketing objectives?
Twitter plays a huge role in helping us deal with and relate to our customers. Whether it's letting them know where we're going to be located for the day, listening to what they like or don't like about us or just having a conversation with them via tweets.
Is there a quantifiable measure for how much Twitter has really helped your business?
Well, certainly your number of followers doesn't automatically mean that you're going to have that many people coming to your truck. I guess the only way to measure our popularity on twitter is people posting about coming to the truck, or having gone to the truck, posting pictures, etc. I suppose one might be able to ascertain that, say, if 1 out of every 20 people who come to the truck tweet about it, we could have an idea of how many total people came to the truck, but we haven't taken the time to do such a thing. We basically measure success on Twitter by how much fun people are having with us.
You also have an active fan page on Facebook. Which works for you better of twitter/facebook? Do you use any other social media platforms? We like Twitter and Facebook, but for somewhat different reasons. Twitter is quick, people can see where we are, shoot us a quick hello and we can respond in kind. Facebook can be a world of more pictures and discussion if people want. I'd say Twitter is more casual and so reaches more people, but our friends on Facebook are probably a bit more loyal. Also, we try to respond to everybody that writes us a Yelp review and we offer a fun surprise if you check in on Foursquare ten times with us.
What’s next on the web? Free coupons? Membership?
We actually do both of those things already. People can sign up to be on our mailing list through the website, and by doing so they are entered into our weekly drawing to be what we call the Wafeleur or Wafelette of the Week. That person receives a gift certificate for a couple of free wafels they can use anytime they like. We also put up their picture and a brief bio about them on our blog.
Please read Pooja’s earlier articles on YourStory.in here.
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