Christine Hollinden, CPSM, discusses how to set revenue-driven social media goals at All Things Baking.
In order to drive traffic to your bakery, social media needs to be approached as a well-defined business strategy not simply something to do because competitors are doing it, said Christine Hollinden (pictured at podium), CPSM, during a session on social media strategies for bakers at All Things Baking.
"The first and most important thing is: Why social media? Before you even begin, you need to answer this question," Hollinden said. "It sounds simple, but I've found that most business owners can't answer this question."
Determining what social media will do for bakery owners from a business perspective will help them establish obtainable, revenue-driven goals on a realistic timeline. "Social media sites are mostly free, but they're not because your time and your team's time are valuable. Businesses fail to see how much time and effort it takes."
Hollinden noted that it's key to set specific goals, like expanding revenue within specific product lines or reaching a new target market. Operators also can set secondary goals in the process, such as increasing certain market segments. Above all, the goals must be measurable and time-oriented. "Just getting more likes on Facebook doesn't count," Hollinden said.
The next steps are to clarify and segment the bakery's target audience. One trick she shared in getting started was to create personas, or bios of individuals who represent the target audience.
"We give that person a name, photo, age, income range, hobbies," Hollinden said. "Personas put you in the head of your target audience. They tell you how to communicate with that segment, so now you know what she's looking for and how to give that to her."
Next in the process is channel selection. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or YouTube, each channel's user base contains certain specifics that can help the bakery owner determine if that's the right channel to use. "Look at the statistics," Hollinden said. "Go into the About us section of the sites because every channel has specifics like the average age, income and education of their users. Get those stats and compare them to your target audience."
Case study in social media
Hollinden used Dessert Gallery, Houston, as a case study to highlight how these steps work in a real bakery. Owner Sara Brook outlined the challenges she faced in creating a two-month-long social media strategy around the launch of two new product lines: gelato and decorated cakes. Because Brook's target audience is overwhelmingly educated females in administrative jobs, she chose Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote her new product lines.
"I was surprised by the opportunities LinkedIn presented," Brook said. "But that's where the corporate customer is, so we need to be there."
Next, it's critical to select a tone and voice that represent the bakery and resonate with customers before choosing what to say. "You use a different way of speaking as a way of relating to different groups of people," Hollinden noted.
"This was the hardest thing in the process for me," Brook confessed. "I know how to speak to different groups of people differently, but I had a hard time getting my arms around it for social media."
It's crucial to be conversational with social media and not simply push product on the audience. "There's a sweet spot," Hollinden said. "Talk about things the audience finds interesting, timely and unique to your busness. But avoid selling or constantly pushing. Instead, tell them the history of your bakery or ask a question."
Before getting started, creating a content calendar helps keep bakery owners and employees on task. It helps to start gradually--even posting once per week--and work up. Choosing a day and time that's typically slow at the bakery makes the prospect of posting far less daunting, Holliden said.
Once owners and employees start posting, the sites must be tracked regularly. "Pick a day for pulling down metrics, whether it's fans, likes or whatever you decide to measure. Make sure you bring those back to revenues," Hollinden said. "It's not just about fans; you want to ultimately drive them to buy. It doesn't matter how many fans you have--it's about connections and communicating with the right people."
For Brook, Dessert Gallery's social media efforts (the bakery's only promotions were on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In) generated more than $11,000 in decorated cake sales and more than $3,500 for gelato. Facebook likes increased 10 percent and Twitter followers went up 4 percent. Today, the bakery is getting more into YouTube and Pinterest as well.
"Putting structure around your social media efforts makes them worthwhile," Brook said. "Why spend the time doing it unless you get more business?"
Hollinden added that bakeries should set themselves up for success, even if that means starting small. "If you're just starting, start slowly. Set a schedule and then give youself more time. If you get started fast and then just stop, that defeats the purpose. Have a plan. Start with one product or one channel. And monitor, monitor, monitor! Everything ties back to your business goals."