When you hear the words “social media,” a few different emotions probably stir up inside you. On one hand, social media is an amazing way to connect with your customers and showcase your food business.
But the idea of growing your social platform can feel daunting. It also leads to a lot of questions.
What should your posting schedule look like? What type of posts get the most engagement? How do you connect with your online community? The questions are endless — so let's break down everything you need to know about leveling up your social media and using it as an important sales platform for your food business.
Laura Luk is the owner of Butterfly Bakes and has exceptional expertise in social media. She joined Camp Castiron to share her experience growing her online presence and provides valuable tips on how you can do the same.
Social Media for Food Businesses: The Basics
As an entrepreneur, you can’t always be selling. You’re the brains and talent behind the business and therefore need to use your time more efficiently.
That’s where social media comes into the equation. Social platforms do an amazing job of being the voice for your business at all hours of the day. Where you can’t be, social media can be. Anyone who has access to the internet can find your business at any time, which is why it’s so important to be on social media and use it to your advantage.
Luckily social media is an even playing field — everyone starts with zero followers and has to work their way up from there. There are no secret rules or cheats to get a head start — how fast you grow is a direct result of how much time and effort you put in.
If you're new to social media, don’t worry! There’s enough room on the app for everyone to succeed. Don’t be discouraged by accounts that have thousands of followers, because with time and dedication you will get there if you stay consistent and committed to growing on the platform!
Why Spend Time on Social Media Marketing?
If you’ve been on the apps for a while now, you understand why there is such a push to join social media. The three big selling points of social media is that it’s free, searchable, and makes you look legit. Seriously, who doesn’t love a free way to get your business’ name out there?
More and more people are using social media as a search engine. When someone learns of your business, you can almost guarantee they will hop on social media to look you up. At a glance, your social media should tell them everything they need to know about your business and how to order from you, giving legitimacy to your business. If your profile leaves customers confused who you are or what their next step should be, you will most likely lose the sale. So that leads to the question: what exactly should you include in your profile?
Digital Profile 101: Building the Ideal Social Media Profile
Building your profile is more of an art than an exact formula. This is where you can be creative and make your profile match the feel of your business.
Be creative, but remember that there are some fundamental elements you must include to make your profile feel legitimate to potential customers:
- Photo: must be clear, close and clean (Laura suggests using a picture of yourself)
- Username: should be readable and relevant (choose a name people will remember, and that people can easily spell)
- Display name: include searchable keywords (like the type of food you sell), location, and your name if you’re a one-person business
- Following: only follow accounts that make sense for your niche (no friends or family)
- Bio: synopsis of what you do and a call to action (what they should do next)
- Website: include link to your website, order form, or Linktree
- Additional: any highlights of your work or info, pinned posts of best work
Again, there is no exact science behind building a profile. Experiment with different names, keywords and pictures until you find what works best for your business! And remember to always update your profile when you make changes to your business. Don’t be afraid to make changes and be creative.
What’s the Deal With Content?
Whether you’re new to social media or a long-time social veteran, there is always something new to learn and change accordingly. To explain how to use social media apps for your business, Laura highlights the three E’s of social media: explore, evolve and experiment.
Explore: Become a student of the app. Learn how to navigate the app and use its features. Instagram has a discover page, and TikTok has a for you page. See what these apps are recommending you. What types of posts are trending? What songs are trending? You’re seeing these posts for a reason, so pay attention to why they’re getting traction and copy their methods.
Evolve: You don’t have to be picture-perfect on Instagram anymore. In fact, picture-perfect, curated accounts don’t get much traction in this day and age. More and more people are liking and following accounts that are interesting, relatable and entertaining. People go to social media for an escape, so give them something that will interest them and keep them coming back.
Experiment: Take the pressure off being perfect — no one is! Reflect on what you love to do and use that interest to influence what you post. Maybe you love showing how you set up your kitchen, or you love going live and talking to your followers. Whatever it is, the most important part is being active and consistent.
What Should Your Business Post on Social Media?
Deciding what content to post is the question on everyone’s mind. Much like your profile, there is no exact science behind what your content should look like. Therefore, because nobody can dictate your content, social media presents an amazing opportunity for you to showcase your creativity and cultivate your brand. You have complete creative freedom to post whatever you want and the manner in which you do it, but Laura suggests you follow a few key guidelines in order to find traction with your content.
The content medium most people are familiar with are photos. Photos are the OGs of social media. Photography is an amazing way to exhibit your culinary creations and create a clear lookbook into your business. After all, people eat with their eyes first!
Various trends in photography have come and gone over time, but there are a few elements that will stand the test of time. Stay away from wild filters — your customers need to see what your creations really look like. Instead, play around with the lighting and contrast of your photos making them appear brighter and professional.
Similarly, you’ll want to take the highest quality photos possible. This does not mean you need to break the bank on a high performing camera. Investigate how to change the settings on your smartphone to make sure you're on the highest camera setting and always clean your lenses before snapping your pictures. Lastly, posting carousel posts will actually help your algorithm and gain more traction than just single pictures. Add variety to your photos by choosing a few different set-ups and angles of your food. Since still pictures aren’t going out of style any time soon, capturing clean, timeless photos will benefit you the most in the long run.
Ever since the seemingly overnight popularity of TikTok, short form videos have taken over social media. According to The Treetop Therapy, the average attention span has shrunk to just 8.25 seconds. That means you’ll need to capture your audience’s attention early, fast and creatively. Laura suggests keeping your videos between 15 to 30 seconds. This should be enough time to get your story line across while not losing your viewers’ attention. Think fast — you need movement in every frame and should only include the most interesting and alluring clips.
If you’re new to videos, time lapse videos are an easy medium to start with. All your videos should have music or a voice over in the background. Pick a fun, upbeat song that matches the vibe of your video. For a voiceover, make sure you’re talking fast and only including important and interesting details. Instagram loves Reels, and an easy way to please the social media algorithms is to post at least two or three Reels a week. Pro-tip: add a beautiful cover photo to your reel to encourage people to click on your post! Learn how to create a scroll-stopping Reel here.
Last but not least, Instagram Stories. Stories provide a great way to connect with your audience and get to know them and, as a bonus: there really aren't any rules or methods for stories. As a business, you should try to post at least one or two stories a day. This is a place where you can be casual, and where everything doesn’t necessarily need to be focused on selling. Do you want to share something funny your child did in the kitchen? Add it to your Instagram Story! Want to show a quick behind the scenes preview of an upcoming order? Throw it onto your Story.
Stories don’t have to be photo or video-based, though. People love stories they can interact with — posting polls and questions will give you the most traction and allow you to hear from your followers. When your followers answer your question or poll, make sure you respond back to them. This gives them an individualized connection they will remember and appreciate! Stories are a great way to post quick updates, reminders or just say hi, but remember to keep them fun and stress free!
How Do You Grow Your Food Business’ Social Media Profiles?
If you’ve been on social media for some time now, you probably know growing your following isn’t an easy feat. You’ll need to put significant time and effort into your accounts in order to grow their following. The hardest part is getting past the 1,000 follower point. Once you’re over it, your followers will catapult, so hang in there! The more time and engagement you put into these apps, the more success you will have. Be active and interact with your followers!
Social networking is an amazing way to accelerate your following. Instagram is full of small, niche communities. Take the time to find your community and be an active member by commenting on others’ posts and supporting their accounts (you can find them through hashtags and tagged posts). People will notice your support and give it back to you in return. There’s no better validation for your business than a third-party endorsement. Someone else supporting your business gives legitimacy to your skills and product and will increase not only your following but also your sales!
Engaging on social media is the easiest way to grow your following. The algorithm tends to reward active accounts, so the more engagement you have, the more your account will be seen. There are quite a few different methods of engagement so here are some ideas to get you started:
- Reply to comments in meaningful way
- Comment on others’ posts (if they ask a question, answer them)
- Share others’ work (repost to your stories)
- Tag other accounts (products or inspiration)
- Collaborate with a complementary business on a special product or giveaway
- Respond to DMs quickly and genuinely (but be wary of spam and scams)
- Ask for the engagement you want - follow, like, share, save, go to a website, send a DM, etc., but don’t overwhelm! (simple calls to action works best)
Growing your social media presence is going to take time, patience and effort, so don’t give up — it’ll happen if you stick with it!
Remember to have fun with your content: take the stress off growing that “followers” number and post what you love about your business! Grow your connections and create friendships that will support you and help you grow!
Interested in learning more about taking your social media to the next level? Watch Laura’s social media session from Camp Castiron to hear all of her expert advice: