Jenna Ptacek chief executive officer and founder of butterbottoms, an online ordering business designed to help bakeries and local restaurants grow, points out that social media can be an effective way to connect with your customers and create awareness for your brand.

“Our recommendation is to keep social media posts short and simple – we have found this to be most effective,” Ptacek says. “Educational posts and posts that show a more personal side of your bakery have also been shown to have a positive impact on consumer behavior. Engage in a meaningful way with groups on social media platforms.”

Elizabeth Hassett, director of digital product experience for Dawn Food Products, explains Dawn’s strategies regarding social media.

“We know our customers are busier than ever, so we ensure all social media content provides consistent advice bakeries can use to bolster their business,” she explains. “We share several new recipes each month, offer articles with advice to combat relevant business challenges and provide downloadable marketing materials for our customers.”

To implement these strategies, Dawn uses Instagram and Facebook to share more tactical updates and content – including new recipes and inspiration, Hassett said.

“In contrast, we use LinkedIn to share more corporate updates such as new executive hires or updates to the business,” she said.  

Dawn’s goal is always to make customers’ jobs easier. “We want all customers to know the vast number of tools available in their arsenal through Dawn. We often provide social media toolkits for our customers, saving them time and helping to drive sales and brand awareness,” Hassett explains.  

Simply put, Hassett explains, if you are not winning on social media, you are not winning.

“We know customers are increasingly turning to social media for inspiration, tips, research, and other creative ideas. On the flip side, as more customers are on social media, they are also very busy and have a business to run, so attention spans are shorter. Because of this, the content they view needs to be brief, enticing and memorable,” she said. 

Important guidelines

Mitchie Curran, a social media expert who runs Mitchies Munchies in Las Vegas, points out that online, “we have 3 to 7 seconds to capture any user’s attention.”

You have 150 characters to describe yourself, she advises, so keep your handles consistent so they are easy to find. Use the same profile photos across all platforms. Landscape photos are ideal, and don’t forget to explain what it is.

Explain your business needs, Curran says, how to contact you, and “remember to boast! It’s like being a girl scout with all these patches you wear. You earned it!”

Instagram is trying to keep up with TikTok. Don’t do full tutorials on your videos. Just do bite-size bits (teasers, so people come back for more).

Stop posting selfies every day. You’re not selling you! You want to relate content to your business.

Follow relevant hashtags to your type of business.

Start by creating 30 relevant hashtags to your niche:

  • 10 brand specific, location, niche
  • 5 high competition hashtags over 500K
  • 5 medium size – less than 500K
  • 5 low size – 50K or less
  • 5 unique to your post

“Remember that social media is a two-way street,” Curran said.

Follow the 5-3-2 rule every day:

  • Like 5 posts.
  • Comment on 3 posts (and give value to the conversation).
  • Share 2 posts.

Make it valuable and it’s going to work for you, she urges. Keep posting times the same for at least 30 days before changing it up. Have a snapshot view of activity to understand peak times. Keep your conversations positive.

“Twitter is where all the angry people hang out. It is ideal for breaking news, events, and food truck locations, Curran emphasizes. “Where else to reach your audience? Google, Yelp and YouTube.”

The right know-how

Mike Clements, owner at BakeSmart, explains that posting stunning pictures of your creations to your bakery’s social pages can pique curiosity and make mouths water – but you can get even more out of social media with the right know-how.

The goal is to appeal to your target audience in ways that make them want to visit or promote your bakery, he advises. When you’re able to post regularly and authentically, you’ll find people interacting with your bakeries’ brand in new and surprising ways. 

A few basics to get started in the social space include:

Fill out your profiles and clearly display your bakery’s contact information and anything else you feel is important to your brand.

Stay consistent across all your social media platforms. It’s a good idea to have the same profile picture and handle (if possible). This ensures your customers can easily find you from platform to platform.

Engage! Your customers are looking for you to interact with them on social media and show that there is, in fact, a person behind your posts. Make sure you are “liking” comments and responding to anyone reaching out! 

Cross promote. If you’re on multiple social platforms, remind your followers that you have other social media accounts! Invite them to follow those too!

A platform to grow your base

Cydni Mitchell of Sweet Fest in Atlanta explains that social media is not just about selling. It’s a common platform to help grow your loyal base of customers.

Remember that every social media platform has its own audience, she says. Users use each app for different types of content. You want to nurture a relationship with them to build a following.

Rule No. 1 – Be social. Respond to comments. The key to success is relationship building.

Rule No. 2 – Provide quality content with an occasional sales pitch. Relationship building can feel tedious but it does pay off in the long run.

It’s not just sell, sell, sell. It’s about storytelling. Consumers are no longer buying products. They are buying stories and experiences.

Rule No. 3 – Post with purpose and written content.

Don’t post without a description or story. You need to have a description for search engine optimization.

Your website works in conjunction with your social media. Your social media is going to let people know that you are an active business.

Test out different content formats and styles with your audience. Once you find something that gets more engagement, keep posting that type of content.

Use analytics to develop and refine your content strategy. Your website analytics will help you understand your traffic sources and your customers’ behaviors. Then you are going to know where to support that type of activity.

“TikTok is very addictive,” she adds. “You can post things and show your process and skill set. Look around and set how to make it work for you. Ask people who are TikTokers to find out how it is so appealing.”

Keep in mind, she added, #TikTok Made Me Buy It attracted 7.4 billion views in 2021. 67% of users say TikTok inspires them to shop.

“TikTok has cultivated a unique audience of buyers who participate in the infinite loop,” Mitchell points out. “Remember that the TikTok path to purchase is not linear. It’s about discovery, consideration, review, and participation.

Best practices

When posting on any social media platform to promote your bakery, you want your posts to spark emotions like joy, happiness, inspiration, nostalgia, excitement, and all those other feel-goods that go great with your tasty treats, Clements said.

Here are some tips we suggest implementing across all of your social media platforms to ensure the best results:

Draw customers in by posting about discounts or giveaways that revolve around sharing your post or following your bakery’s various social accounts. This engages your audience, has a clear call to action, and they get something in return! 

Be a source of baking education by taking the time to post quick baking tips that amateur and pro bakers alike could leverage. Your followers will appreciate that they can learn from you.

Don’t forget to highlight your customer loyalty program. Your customers will love feeling like a VIP and will be more inclined to visit your bakery when they can rack up reward points.

Announce new products with a short but detailed description. Entice your audience, but make them want more. This will make them want to visit your bakery to see for themselves or engage with your post to learn more.

Share your daily or weekly specials! Keeping your potential and regular customers up-to-date on your offerings keeps things fresh and fun.

Share exclusive discount codes with the people who follow your social pages. If people are taking the time to follow and interact with you via social media, they deserve some recognition for their support! 

Never underestimate the importance of relevant hashtags. For example, something as simple as hashtagging your geographical location with the word “bakery” (e.g., #IndyBakery, #IndianapolisBaker) is an easy way to let people find you. 

Use the time of day to your advantage. For example, most people take their lunch break around 12-2 p.m. So you could post a picture of your famed ham and cheese croissant around this time with a caption about stopping in for a snack.

Hold a photo caption contest. Show your fun side by posting a wacky photo of your staff or a baking blooper with a “caption this” call-out. Have your followers comment with their funniest caption and give the winner a discount code or a free product. This brings out the “human” side of your brand and will feel relatable to your audience.