Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Facebook Marketing Part 4-- Should You Bother?

Well, well, after going over part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this facebook marketing series, you should have the basic tools needed to really target those customers and improve the engagement with your facebook account. Now the only question is whether you should bother.

I think that facebook is definitely worth it, but only under certain conditions. First, your customers have to be on your business page. And second, your business page has to drive traffic to your website. (You do have a website, don't you?)

On the first point, if you're posting amazing content and you have a super-high engagement rate, that's fantastic. But if the people who are engaging with you aren't your customers, you're wasting your effort. Remember that this is a business page, not a "getting-my-ego-stroked-because-so-many-people-like-my-posts" page. You want the people who are engaging with you online to actually buy from you eventually.

Facebook business pages are for advertising, and that's what most people lose sight of.

On that point, let's say that your fans are your customers, and they're engaging with you in a big way on facebook. That's very nice, but you want them to take the next step, which would be to click through to your website, send you an email about placing an order, or pick up the phone to call you.

If you're working for ten hours a day on the most amazing facebook page in the world but nobody's clicking through to buy, you're wasting your time.

So how do you get those conversions (what the internet sales geeks call making clicks into sales) to happen? Or how do you decide whether to keep putting effort into facebook as an advertising platform?

The first thing to do would be to check your website stats to see where your traffic is coming from. If you see that out of 5000 visits on your website only 5 are from facebook, you might want to either revamp your facebook page to increase that, or go put your effort into higher traffic sources. You might also want to look into creating a facebook group for your business, but that's another story, and it might not be worth the effort because of how often facebook changes the way they show things in people's feeds.

If you don't know how to monitor your website traffic, that's a problem. You need to go in and check with the hosting service or with the person who designed your site to find out where the analytics are. If you don't have them built into your site, you can put a piece of code from google into your site and link to google analytics. Feel free to leave questions about this in the comments section, but check with your website host first.

For my part, my website gets about 56% of its traffic directly from facebook, and my Etsy shop gets about 36% of its traffic from facebook. So I'm not leaving facebook anytime soon. On the other hand, if I look at my other social network data, twitter ranks right down there at the bottom, with only 1% of traffic and less than one page looked at per visit. So pffft to twitter.

So facebook does bring me traffic. But is that traffic customers? This is where it gets a little muddy for cake businesses, because it's unlikely that you're selling things online that can be tracked. If I sell a silicone mold, and I have the analytics for google plugged into my site, I can see what was purchased, where the buyer was from, how much it cost, how long the customer spent on my site, etc etc. For service businesses like custom cakes, the sales aren't registered on a website, so you won't be able to get those details.

What you should do is go to your facebook analytics and get ready to make some assumptions.

Go to your facebook Insights page again, and this time go to the left column and click on "people." This will bring up a chart showing the location of your fans. You can also click on that chart to see the locations of who was reached by your posts and who engaged with your posts, but to start, just look at the location.

Scroll down past the bar graph and look at the middle column where it shows the city that your fans are in. Be aware that they might be breaking up locations, so for example, my local fans are listed by the city of Richmond, the counties around Richmond, and various sections of those counties. Click on the "see more" below that chart to open up more results.

If all of your fans are from Timbuktu, and you're not from Timbuktu, you have a problem.

For people like myself, who sell online and who ship internationally, having fans all over the world isn't an issue. But if you're selling to people in your town and in a 20-mile radius around your town, you want most of your fans to be in that area.

The problem with cake decorators on social media, is that they tend to like pages because they like to look at pictures of cakes. They have no desire to buy anything from you, but they'll like your page anyway. This inflates your numbers and loads your page up with people who will never engage with your posts or buy a cake from you.

If you're feeling particularly brave, and you're not in love with inflated like numbers that really don't mean a lot, you could go in and delete people from your page who aren't active, don't engage with your stuff, and who live 1000 miles away. That will decrease your fan count, which can make a lot of people pass out, but if you're concentrating on local, paying customers, it makes sense.

First, you get rid of the people who will never be your customers, then you concentrate on getting your local customers engaged with a facebook ad targeting them, like the example I used in part 1 of this series. If you only have 100 fans, but they're all local and they all respond to your posts, your engagement rate will be higher than it would be otherwise. That means that facebook will show your posts to more of your fans (who are local because you pruned your list) and you'll reach more of your customers without having to run ads.

Next Week: Attracting local fans who will actually buy your stuff.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Are Fake Cakes Less Expensive Than Real Ones?

I see advice about getting fake cakes to reduce the cake budget all the time, and once again it's a grey area. Just like the argument about getting sheet cakes to supplement a smaller wedding cake, it's not always going to save you money.

Let me just say right off the bat that dummy cakes are pretty expensive, so the cost of the fake tier is going to be comparable to the cost of ingredients for a real tier. The only real savings that the baker will see is in the time that it takes to bake the cake. It still takes the same time to ice and decorate the fake as it does to do the real cake.

There are a few ways that you can incorporate a fake cake into your reception, and which you would use would depend on what your needs are.

First, if you only need a small number of cake servings and you want to make your cake look bigger, a fake tier can be added to the cake in order to make it look more impressive. As far as I've seen, most bakers will charge from 75 to 80% of what a real cake tier would cost for something like that. (Some, however, will charge full price, depending on the size of the fake tier.)

Doing this will add to the cost overall, but maybe not as much as adding a real tier would. In this case, the decorator has to ice and decorate the fake tier as a part of the whole cake. The time and materials to decorate are the same, so the decorator is only saving time by not having to bake the tier.

The second option is to serve sheet cakes, then get a fake cake to display at the reception. This probably won't save you much money unless you're buying really bad-to-mediocre sheet cakes. You'll still have the expense of either buying or renting the fake wedding cake on top of the cost of the sheets.

If you buy cheap sheet cake to save money, chance are that people won't eat it (that's what happens when you provide "inferior product.") That will waste a lot of money, so in terms of efficient spending, it's not a good idea. On the other hand, if you buy good sheet cake, you might as well just buy a good wedding cake and leave the dummy cake out of it. The cost of the good sheets plus the cost of the fake display cake will likely be close to, if not more than, what a good wedding cake would have been on its own.

The third way to use a dummy cake would be to either buy or rent a fake cake and not serve cake as the dessert at all. If you have a dessert included in a package at your reception then you'll save some money unless the cost of the dummy is comparable to a real cake. If you have to buy the dummy that might be the case, but a rental could be cheaper. One drawback to doing it this way is that you'll have a wedding cake on display during the reception, but you won't be serving any to your guests, which is a little strange.

And don't think that nobody will notice. They will, and they'll talk about how odd it was even if they don't tell you. Unless that's the normal thing for people to do in your area, and your guests expect it, they'll talk about it.

Another drawback is that rentals are rentals, and there's only so much you can do to personalize a fake cake that's been used by a number of people before you. If you want a basic design you can change some things on it, but as soon as you want to make a custom design, the charge for the rental will go up.

Basically, styrofoam dummies won't necessarily save money, and if you do a rented dummy cake you'll have an extra task to do after the wedding as far as returning the rented cake. Make sure that you do price comparisons if you think this an option you want to pursue. I've seen styrofoam cakes online that cost more than a wedding cake would cost, so I have no idea why anyone would want to use one. I've also seen them that are very cheap to rent, but I don't know how the cost would add up once you include the price of cake that you would buy to serve, if you needed to buy sheets. It all depends on how much you have to buy and what your particular situation is.

I've done fake tiers to add height to smaller wedding cakes, but I've never done entirely fake cakes for weddings. For the very reasonable amount that I charge for cakes, the savings would be eaten up by the cost of sheet cakes, and my clients would end up paying more for the fake than they would for a real cake.

Just do your homework and price everything out before believing that styrofoam cake=cheaper option!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Friday, October 21, 2016

How To Wire A Flowering Vine And Attach It To A Cake

Now that I don't bake wedding cakes anymore, what would the next logical thing for me to make be? Yes,that's right, it's fake cakes.

But not those cakes that are meant to take the place of a wedding cake with a chunk cut out of the back to stick a real piece of cake in for the cake-cutting photos. I mean really fake cakes, made with totally non-edible materials. People use them for props for photo shoots, photo booths, staging houses, and theatrical productions. And it's fun to make a cake that someone can't eat, for some reason. So I've added some fakes like this one to my repertoire:

This cake was made from totally inedible materials, including the silk flowers. I could have used gumpaste, but for the purposes of fake food you don't want to do anything that could be affected by humidity or draw ants...

So anyway, I was making a vine to put around this little faker, and I decided to do a quick video about how to make the vine and attach a flowering vine to a cake. A real cake, not a fake one. And how to anchor it to the side of a tier so that it won't move around and take out half of the icing on the cake. Here you go:

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Facebook Marketing Part 3- When And How Often To Post and An Extra Tip For You

Click here for part 1--Analytics and Ads, and Part 2- What To Post.

The next part of the Facebook marketing puzzle is when to post. There are a lot of articles and charts out there that will tell you when the best times are, but the most accurate thing to do would be to check the analytics for your own account.

Go to your business page and click on the Insights button at the top. This will take you to your analytics page, which you should be fairly familiar with by now if you've been looking at your post engagement. Once the insights page is open, click on the left side on the Posts section. This will bring up a chart that shows WHEN your fans are on Facebook. If your fans are on in the late afternoon, you should post in the late afternoon. If your fans are on in the middle of the night, you might want to look to see if you have a lot of fans who aren't actually your local customers, because they might be in a different time zone!

This brings to mind an extra tip...You might want to go through your fan list occasionally and get rid of fake accounts. Yes, it will drop your likes number, but your goal is engagement, and if a bunch of fake accounts have liked your page it will penalize you. If you have 500 fake likes and 100 real likes, and those 100 people all like your posts, that's 12% engagement. If you get rid of those 500 fake profiles and the real 100 still like your posts, you now have 100% engagement, which would be amazing.

So anyway, get rid of fake accounts. How can you know that they're fake? Let's just say that if you start getting a ton of likes from foreign countries that are known as scammer countries, it's likely that they're not real people. Or they're real people, but they're earning money by liking Facebook pages for pay, and they've chosen yours as a random one to make them look legitimate. Scammers will like Facebook pages and group to make their fake accounts look real so you'll get a wave of people from that one country liking your page if they've found you. Just delete them, they're not your customer anyway. 

Okay, so back to analytics. Once you see when your fans are online, start posting during those hours. Schedule posts or do it "live," but post a lot. 4-6 times a day is not unreasonable, even though it seems like a lot.

You don't need to keep that pace up, just do it for a while to get some traction on your page. Your posts won't be shown to everyone who's liked it, so don't worry about that. You might lose a few likes, but don't worry about that either. I guarantee that if you increase your engagement, and you post things that people like, you'll earn more fans than you'll lose. Once you get your engagement numbers up, and Facebook is satisfied that your page is worthy of being shown to people, you don't have to post as often.

And one more thing...If you want your posts to be shown to more people, rumor is that if you choose a category for your page that isn't business-related, it won't be treated like a business. Business page posts are choked off because Facebook wants to sell ads, so if you choose any category that does NOT give you the review section, it will probably be seen more often. I tried that out when they first stopped showing business posts as often, and it did increase my views, so who knows. But it's worth trying.

Next week: After all of this advice, I discuss whether you should even bother working on your facebook posting at all.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Friday, October 14, 2016

How To Make Realistic Fondant Or Gumpaste Popcorn For Cakes

Fondant popcorn that most people make is pretty cartoon-y, which is fine if you're going for that look. If you want to make more realistic popcorn, though, you should get some real popcorn to study first, then ditch the cutters, since you don't need them. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making fake food, I like it to look more realistic, so this is what I came up with:

I'll add that if there's a cake that you could just use real popcorn on, do that, it's a lot faster! But if you want to be fancy and impress people, here's a video showing how I figured out a way to make realistic gumpaste popcorn without cutters.

This is the kind of thing I would sell online, but it's a little time-consuming, so it ain't cheap...Honestly, I'd use real popcorn on it, probably kettle corn (which is the best kind of popcorn if we're telling the truth). Try it out and let me know what you think of this way of making it, or if you can figure out another way to make it better!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and