First, Stephen Rose started with one of the greatest products you can imagine: fresh Georgia Peaches! Second, for the business he started, The Peach Truck, he used a brilliant launch and grow strategy: start with something that recalls a traditional southern fruit stand, add a dash of modern food truck savvy, and scale it into a hub-and-spoke regional distribution model to serve customers across several states (and we’re lucky that one of them is ours). And third, Stephen Rose discovered Instagram was the social medium that worked perfectly with the company’s visually stunning products–and the equally beautiful dishes chefs use them to prepare. As part of our “How it Helps Us” series, we caught up with Steve to ask how Instagram helps the Peach Truck grow.
Was Instagram your initial social media choice? If so, why?
It actually wasn’t! The first thing I signed up for was Twitter (@thepeachtruck). I saw it as a great way to get the word out about where we were setting up and what we were all about. I reserved Facebook and Instagram (@thepeachtruck) names around the same time, but didn’t focus on those until last summer.
Today, you have 3,807 followers on Twitter and 8,612 on Instagram. Why the disparity? What is it about Instagram that works so well for you?
That’s a really good question that I’d love to know the answer to. As I mentioned, I’ve had more time on Twitter, but Instagram just continues to blow up. One thing we go back to is that people want to look interesting, and I think we do a good job of giving people content to post online. Instagram is a place to post beautiful pictures, and our bags and our peaches are great, beautiful products to post. We’re the benefactors of having beautiful products.
Do you have an Instagram strategy?
We really don’t have a strategy other than generosity. What I mean by that is I’m very intent on liking and commenting on as many photos people post as possible. During the weekend, I’m constantly (interacting with customers via Instagram) but the payoff is huge. We’ve all received those random comments from brands we love, and it makes our day. We want to be generous with commenting, and it seems to pay off.
Do you find customers/fans are more active on Instagram?
I do at this point. I don’t know if there’s some sort of shift happening, but I do feel like there’s far less conversation happening on Twitter. I feel like the conversation is one way, rather than both ways like it is on Facebook and Instagram. That’s just my experience.
What kind of photos do you find they respond to best?
There are so many incredible chefs that use our peaches in their dishes, and we seem to get a lot of response from posting dishes that are created by them.
How vital has Instagram been in your business’s success?
Social media in general has been vital to our success. There’s no way around it. It’s not a fad that’s here and it going to go. The mediums will change, but social media is here to stay. Never before has a business had the opportunity to communicate with all their fans and customers in such a simple way. If you’re not communicating on social media, you’re really missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with your audience.
Do you find you’ve gained customers from it?
I’m sure we have. When hundreds of people post pictures of themselves with their peaches or bags or boxes, other folks take notice and want to see what the rage is all about. (Photo above: An Instagram photo of customers waiting in line during a Lexington, Ky., visit by The Peach Truck.)
Would you suggest Instagram (over Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to other mobile food vendors, or restaurant owners? If so, why?
I would suggest all three. All three platforms cater to a different audience, and all three are vital. We definitely have the biggest audience on Instagram, but I would say each of our platforms are of equal importance to our success.