Social media is one of the most effective marketing tools at your bakery’s disposal. Not only are you able to promote your business for free (or cheap, if choosing to do paid promotions), but it also allows you to easily let your customers know the products, deals and special offerings you provide.

In order to boost your sales through social media, you need to be able to properly communicate through the various channels your customers use. Consumers are creatures of habit, and consistency is key for long-term success with any type of social media campaign, says Keely Siciliano, senior manager of brand and digital marketing at Dawn Foods.

“Consumers follow local businesses with the expectation that a bakery’s social media page is the best place to find up to date news and information,” she says. “Once you’ve established a social media routine (i.e. posting twice a week), consumers come to expect that and can be disappointed and frustrated if that routine is disrupted.”

Siciliano says that, for example, if your bakery has a “Donut of the Day” special on weekends, you should post a high-quality, appetizing photo of that product first thing in the morning on those days to let your customers know. The same goes for flavors, so if you’re known for swapping out cupcake flavors daily, share the day’s menu on social media early in the day. You should also keep the time you post consistent so loyal customers know when to expect to check the flavors for that day.

Social media is a two-way conversation, and you should always look to engage with your followers. Siciliano suggests finding ways to incorporate user-generated content when available.

“If you’re promoting a new or seasonal product, ask customers to snap a photo of their purchase and tag your bakery in their post,” she says. “This works best on visual social media sites like Instagram, but can also be effective on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Not only does this promote the bakery to the customer’s friends and family, but it strengthens your relationship with the customer and improves their brand loyalty.”

One year ago at the 2019 edition of the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), Keely Siciliano discussed the important role branding and social media play in driving business growth and brand awareness for bakeries of all sizes in a seminar titled “Branding & Social Media: Skills for Growing Your Retail Bakery.”

One of the key points Siciliano made during her presentation was that you can increase loyalty by engaging with users. For instance, Instagram is built for foodie loyalists – people who love food and are willing to share it on a visual-heavy platform. Your bakery should look to create content that is visually appealing and that users will share, because it’s free advertising for your business.

Customer service is very important as well. Social media has become the new customer service channel in recent years, because nobody wants to wait on a customer service phone call anymore. Social media creates the expectation of a quicker response, so it’s vital to answer questions and respond to DMs/comments as soon as possible.