Not only do they have pretty great cupcakes, but Cupcake Royale also has a great online presence. They know how to run social media, and they do it well. For those of you unfamiliar with Cupcake Royale, it’s a Seattle-based cupcake company that opened in 2003 as the first cupcake bakery outside of New York City. They pride themselves on using quality organic ingredients that are sustainable and often local, and have been active participants in the Seattle community since opening. As of right now, there are six locations, including the original shop in Madrona. Along with cupcakes, Cupcake Royale has recently expanded their menu to include ice cream and ice cream sandwiches, with many of the ice cream flavors including cupcake bits inside.
As a business, Cupcake Royale has been successful in a multitude of ways, but I’ve been particularly impressed with their Facebook and Twitter accounts. I can’t tell you how many small businesses I’ve seen attempt to use social media and fail miserably. In high school, I worked at a small smoothie shop that had a pretty depressing Facebook page–one picture (of the logo), a few posts maybe every other week, little or no interaction with customers…It really only makes sense to use Facebook as a business if you’re going to do it right, and Cupcake Royale is a perfect model of how it should be done.
First of all, they post daily. They don’t bombard your news feed with a bunch of stuff, but the things they post are effective and certainly strategic. Most posts typically include some sort of picture of one of their menu items that ties in to that specific day’s climate or events (e.g. if it’s sunny outside, they’ll mention their ice cream).
They also know how to communicate with their Facebook fans. This is a big one: I myself have been frustrated before when I wrote on a business Facebook wall, only to never get a response. The team at Cupcake Royale is great at responding to questions (or just a particularly great comment) promptly. There is definitely a conversation continually going on, rather than a business just posting ads for a product over and over again.
One of my favorite things about the Facebook page is that “liking” it gives you access to a few perks. For starters, Facebook fans get a coupon (posted on the page wall) for a free cupcake on the 1st of every month! It’s an awesome incentive for people to become Facebook fans, and it’s a great way to generate business (cupcakes are only free with the purchase of an espresso beverage).
On their Twitter account, Cupcake Royale typically tweets a few times per day. Most tweets advertise a menu item or current promotion, with the inclusion of a photo or link. They also use Twitter to communicate with other local (and national) businesses.
As someone who follows Cupcake Royale’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, I’ve been able to take advantage of offers others never find out about.
For example, last month the bakery partnered up with Keen Footwear and gave a free cupcake (any kind currently in the case) to any customer who brought in the coupon, which was posted both on Twitter and Facebook. Customers also had the option to take a picture of their cupcake and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #KEEN10 to have Keen donate $5 to Marcy Corps’ disaster response efforts. Social media marketing was the only way in which the deal was promoted, and even without further promotion, the campaign was very successful.
Maybe it seems silly for me to go on and on about the effectiveness of Cupcake Royale’s social media use. Let’s be honest, their business is about (really great) cupcakes, not communicating online. But their online success is part of a growing trend I’ve noticed where it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses (especially small businesses) to take part in their online community. It’s not enough to advertise through flyers or print or television; people look for the sort of conversational element that comes from being on Facebook, Twitter, etc. If I’m a frequent customer at a place, I typically want to “like” it for updates and potential discounts; when a business doesn’t provide that option, it can reflect negatively on them. It’s no longer enough to just be listed on Yelp.