Much has been said about the way that mobile street food vendors are using Twitter to publicize their locations, build community and encourage word of mouth buzz for their products. To be true, the food cart craze is one part foodie expression on the cheap and one part grown-up scavenger hunt that is benefiting from a broad realization that the same tools and techniques that keep your food safe, clean and delicious in a restaurant can allow you to have a fantastic food experience on the outside. But here's something really unique about what street food vendors are doing with social media: They're growing their customer bases by purposely limiting their audience -- not necessarily a marketing plan most industries rely on.
For the uninitiated, tracking down your favorite vendor is more than simply driving to the same scheduled spot every day. Because many of these fine products are not actually sold legally, many Street Food vendors have been reluctant to provide hard addresses to their followers (who might be police). The result is that simply following a vendor isn't always enough. Next you have to (actually) pay attention to their tweets so you a) know when they are going to be serving and, b)can direct message them to find out their location. Third, finally, you are "in the know" and can commence the physical part of actually tracking down (and eating) some food. In case you missed it, that's lots of opportunities for customers to get frustrated and give up; but its also an excellent filter for ensuring that, if you go out (as a vendor), you are going to actually see a large enough number of those people (who've jumped those hoops) to make the outing worthwhile.
On top of that, every time that a vendor forces someone to DM them, they also potentially pick up a new follower (you can't DM if you're not a follower), initiate direct customer contact (because the vendor has to start following you back) and communicate with you in order to tell you their location.
There's few better ways to truly make your customer feel like an insider who is "in the know" about something special. As an added virtuous circle bonus: The next time that the vendor tweets about a location they'll have an established customer getting a direct line about their plans, which makes it easier for the vendor to know their customer, which allows for easier planning for their customers, which makes it more likely the vendor will have another positive transaction as a result. By priming their audience through making them feel special and part of an exclusive group, as well as establishing an effective form of continued communication (converting them to an interactive follower) these vendors have demonstrated a counter intuitive dance that, by limiting your audience, you can simultaneously reinforce brand recognition, loyalty, and trust. Which, as it turns out, isn't counter intuitive at all; its just good business.
37 minutes ago