Third 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

Menu Development
health food medicine stethoscope

For the last two years, Chris Studtmann has jockeyed between Northwestern University’s residential dining halls and athletic training tables in his role of executive chef, trying to meet the health and food preferences of both sides. Now, his team is taking best practices developed for the sports teams to the 20,000-plus student population, working with dietitians from the school’s contract company to better sync healthy menu choices with lifestyle needs.

Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report shows younger consumers are especially tuned in to functional foods that...

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

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