Second Annual "The Best..."

Social Media

Twitter promotion I’ve seen
Seattle-based Cupcake Royale was the first cupcake café to open outside of New York City. Founded in 2003, Cupcake Royale grew from one location to five during an enormous economic downturn by building reputation and loyalty through Twitter. [They would] tweet secret specials like Cupcake Happy Hour at a particular location and time. They would closely relate themselves with the local scene by tweeting about special guests in music, pop culture or politics as an excellent PR strategy.
—Storm Hodge, assistant director of food services, University of Washington, Seattle

The Best, Twitter Idea to increase Facebook likes/Twitter followers
Using one of our marketing street team members, we offered a reusable cold cup as a thank you for simply signing up to “like” our Facebook page. The street team visited several locations around campus, armed with a laptop where students could sign up on the spot and receive their cup. We increased our fan base by 250 people over the course of two days.
—David Hill, area manager, University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

Commercial use of social media that I’ve stolen
I love Boston’s Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery + Café Twitter feeds’ conversational tone. We’ve tried to adopt that personal, ironic, observational, warm and friendly tone with our posts.
—Patti Klos, director of dining and business services, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.

The best non-promotional use of social media
My college-age daughter connected me with pinterest.com. The site advertises it as a virtual pinboard and a method to “organize and share the things you love.” For me, the best part is that it allows you to tell a “story” as opposed to a one-time Twitter post. You can create a pinboard of related topics, ideas or thoughts. You can create separate boards to categorize things like favorite recipes and share it with others.
—Julie Jones, director of food and nutrition, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio

Facebook promotion I’ve seen: The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District posts a picture each day of the meal a nutrition services employee chose to eat that day from one of the district’s schools. It shows great variety of options, including vegetables.
—Melanie Konarik, director of child nutrition, Spring Independent School District, Houston

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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