In just a few years, Sprinkles Cupcakes has gone from being a relatively unknown bakery in Beverly Hills to major national buzz and 11 locations. Most of their success can be attributed to their smart use of social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.
For small businesses, it’s not as simple as just being present on social media networks, it’s about using social media to build a fan base and connecting with customers. Sprinkles does just that–not only did they build their Facebook fan base to 271,000+ strong, but they remain authentic and maintain a close relationship with their fans. Of course, giving away a free cupcake or two–or a dozen–doesn’t hurt either. With their secret word of the day and cupcake giveaways, they have generated big buzz for their bite-sized products. People may come for the free cupcakes, but they stay and become loyal advocates for the brand because the product and service are good.
Sprinkles has also built an amazing relationship with their customers–asking them for feedback on everything from flavors to suggestions for new store locations. They respond to almost every single fan post–unheard of one-on-one communication with their consumers that really personalizes their brand. How does all this benefit Sprinkles? By sharing exclusive offers with their loyalists and providing a platform to build a brand community, they bring exposure and word-of-mouth buzz to the company. On a side note, they now even have their own free iPhone app, which dishes out free cupcakes (in case you needed more) and allows users to give virtual cupcakes or locate a bakery.
Chicago-based Doughnut Vault is now attempting to pull off a similar strategy. The Doughnut Vault is only open for a few hours each morning and timely Tweets inform customers about doughnut flavors available, number of people in line and when they’ve sold out. It remains to be seen if they will be as successful as Sprinkles, but if the line around the block is any indication, they may be headed in the right direction.
Takeaway: Use social media platforms to build a loyal fan base and connect with them on an authentic and personalized level. Ask customers for feedback and respond to their suggestions. Loyal customers will generate word-of-mouth buzz for your business.