A couple of weeks ago, Fred Wilson, the managing partner of Union Square Ventures, was in Los Angeles on a working vacation when his brother in law told him about a Twitter account that he just had to start following: KogiBBQ. It’s “a taco truck that was driving around Los Angeles and twittering where they were and you could just drop what you’re doing and go get a taco,” Mr. Wilson explained during his keynote speech at the Ad Age Digital Conference last week.
Mr. Wilson, of course, was talking about Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go and their two mobile taco trucks, Roja and Verde. Although plenty of New York City food trucks were posting on Twitter before L.A.’s Kogi BBQ, the mobile restaurant has been credited by Newsweek as being “America’s first viral eatery.” (Truth be told, the Wafels & Dinges truck, The Dessert Truck, The Treats Truck and the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar truck were all tweeting before @KogiBBQ signed up in November. We checked). But combine their smart use of social media (they’re not just on Twitter, but also have a blog and a Flickr account), lots of press about their cultish following and, mostly, the allegedly to-die-for Korean tacos and you’ve got the most talked-about Twittering taco trucks.
But will the most famous Kogi BBQ come to New York?
When The Observer walked with Zach Brooks, the blogger behind MidtownLunch.com, along Park Avenue last week during his daily lunch tour, he said foodie blogs are buzzing about Kogi BBQ possibly bringing its mobile business to Manhattan.
We checked in with Kogi representative Alice Shin, who emailed from the West Coast: “Anything about NYC is mostly just rumor for now. No official decisions have been made—the heads of Kogi were just hanging around the city to see if moving out there would be feasible. So… we have no idea when or if we’re going to give NY a try.”
Certainly, if they do end up coming to Manhattan the social media hype would be deafening.
At the Ad Age conference, Mr. Wilson said the company’s Twittering and Flickring is an example of how agencies should refigure their strategies and focus more on “earned media” tactics. He explained in a post on his blog: “Earned media is media you don’t buy but earn the hard way. PR is an example of earned media. Word of mouth is another. Earned media has been around forever. But it has now gotten a lot easier, thanks to the Internet and social media, to earn media for your brand, product, or self.”
By telling Kogi BBQ story, he wanted to explain that earned media is “both powerful and free,” but you have to work for it. “KoqiBBQ [sic] posts photos to flickr every day and tweets all day long. They reply to tweets as well. They are active in their ‘earned media,'” he wrote.
Besides great food, being active online is what gets Kogi BBQ great press, two-hour long lines and even New Yorkers planning special trips to buy their tacos.
MidtownLunch.com’s Mr. Brooks started following the KogiBBQ Twitter account during his last visit to L.A. so he could strategize a visit to the famous trucks.
Unfortunately, his plans fell apart. “I was so pissed,” he told The Observer.