Bakeries across the country are using Facebook as a strong marketing tool. For example, K&J's Elegant Pastries in Alabaster, Alabama, used it to jump-start sales of its extreme milkshakes, and Isgro Pastries in Philadelphia achieved national brand awareness after asking Facebook followers to help identify the customer who proposed to his girlfriend in front of its store.
In its "2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report," Social Media Examiner found 94 percent of marketers use Facebook, and more than two-thirds said it’s their most important platform. That makes sense, considering 52 percent of U.S. consumers discovered new businesses on Facebook in the past year, according to separate research from Square. And Technomic found 69 percent of millennials use Facebook to communicate with, review, follow or find information about foodservice businesses.
More bakeries are realizing this marketing potential, but with some 80 million small businesses on Facebook, you may be asking, “How do I stand out?” The answer: Create a compelling presence that’s authentic to your brand.
Bakery Branding First Step: Know Your Business
Social media expert and professional speaker Kay-Tee Olds, known as the Mobile Contessa, recommends creating a strong, holistic brand identity and making social media part of it instead of treating it as a separate marketing silo. Develop the brand persona based on an individual who’s central to your bakery, Olds suggests, such as the current owner, the founder or a fictionalized version of the founder. This will help shape your bakery’s voice, establishing the type of words and tone you should use when talking about your brand and connecting with customers.
If your bakery doesn’t already have a clearly defined mission that is recognizable by your customers, take the time to identify it. What does your brand offer, and how do you differentiate from other bakeries in your area? What is your bakery atmosphere like? Are you in business primarily to create beautiful, detailed custom cakes, or to provide delicious everyday staples and treats? Are you passionate about supporting your community? Make sure your mission reflects your core values and beliefs.
Your customers should also help frame your brand. Olds recommends drafting a profile of your target customer. “Determine their demographics, interests, behavior patterns, pains,” she says, adding this exercise will help you remember that you’re talking to real people and connect with them emotionally.
Bring Your Bakery Brand to Life
Once you’ve defined your bakery’s brand, think about visuals like the logo and a color palette. This is especially important for social media, where memorable high-quality visuals are key to building a following. Just like store signage, packaging and marketing materials, a consistent look and feel across Facebook and other channels encourages recognition.
For Rise’n Roll, a nine-store bakery in Indiana, unifying the bakery’s brand across channels allowed it to reach diverse customer groups, says Christina Ryan, director of franchise development. While Rise’n Roll’s social media audience is younger than its typical customer, branding that’s consistent online and in stores allows the bakery to bring in new customers without alienating longtime fans.
Maximize Your Bakery’s Facebook Page
Facebook offers many tools, but the most important may be your profile page. It’s the primary place you can clearly communicate your brand. Your logo should be easy to read and recognize in your profile picture, and your cover photo should include a horizontal high-quality image of your products.
Your profile is also one of the first places users look for contact information, your address, a link to your website, your product offerings and more. Make sure the About section of your profile is thoroughly and accurately filled out (in your brand’s voice) to ensure your page is search-friendly.
As for what to post, begin by showcasing your best work. Mike Kostyo, trendologist at Datassential, says. Many of the most social media-worthy creations come from bakeries, including rainbow cakes and charcoal buns, he says. “But even traditional baked goods get attention on social media, whether it’s a picture of a croissant’s hypnotic swirl or a video of perfectly piped icing. Retail bakeries are pretty lucky in this regard,” Kostyo says. “They have a product that consumers naturally respond to on social media.”
Beyond finished products, consider behind-the-scenes photos and videos of bakers at work, unique ingredients or creations coming to life. Facebook’s algorithm for what appears in users’ newsfeeds prioritizes visual content over text-only posts, Olds says. She recommends using a mixture of formats and posting about a variety of topics, like products, staff and customers.
However, Olds warns small businesses may find consistency and timeliness on Facebook challenging. “You have the best of intentions, but you can get busy and forget to make Facebook a priority,” she says. Creating a social media calendar lets bakeries plan and balance their posts. Facebook also lets users schedule content in advance to post later. “It still comes across as part of a conversation, but there’s a rationale,” Olds says.
For bakeries that are able to dedicate several hours to Facebook each week, the platform can be a great way to engage customers. Rise’n Roll regularly asks followers for input on new products and hosts contests to build excitement for the brand. For example, the bakery posts contest questions like how many pies a store makes each day and gives whoever submits the winning answer a $20 bakery gift card. And for the grand opening of a new location, staff recorded a Facebook Live video of early arrivers, who then shared the video with their own followers. “We get a lot of engagement whenever we post videos,” Ryan says.
Don’t hesitate to start simple and build up your Facebook activity over time. Once you’re ready to take your bakery’s presence to the next level, explore Facebook’s more advanced capabilities, such as advertising, audience targeting, event planning and more.