Snap, filter, post, then eat. If you’re a millennial, Instagramming your meals is probably a guilty pleasure, and an occasional part of your mealtime routine.
An incredible 69 percent of millennials take a photo (or a video) of their food before eating. But social media isn’t just a place for us to share our posts about favorite foods, and scroll through endless images of beautiful, mouth-watering meals, snacks and treats. It’s completely changed the way we decide what and where we eat too. It’s even begun to adjust the way restaurants are designed, and meals are prepared.
Thanks to platforms like Instagram, we’re able to browse and discover cool restaurants, bars, and foods via social media.
And according to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.
Many businesses in the catering and restaurant industries have started to catch on to the power of social media to not only build a following online, but to drive people in-store to buy, consume, and share experiences.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is one of those businesses.
Callie’s now serves more than a quarter-of-a-million people at its events and eateries each year, and social media plays a big part in its growth.
Embracing social media
“We had a business, so we needed an Instagram page,” Tarah Boyleston, Callie’s marketing and design lead explained to us.
And though Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit started out on social media through necessity, it’s now seeing the rewards of its social media strategy play out, with customers frequently heading to its events and eateries after seeing its biscuits on social media.
“Locals have come into the eatery just to get the special biscuit they saw on Instagram and vacationers tell us they’ve been waiting months to try our biscuits after seeing a video on Facebook,” explained Tarah.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you can connect to so many people with something as simple as biscuits.”
Focusing on high-quality content
Callie’s really started to go all-in on social media marketing at the beginning of 2018 as the team started to focus more on the quality of its content. Tarah especially focused on:
Sharing high-quality images
Writing fun, detailed captions
Using relevant hashtags on every post
“After making these changes, we watched our @callieshotlittlebiscuit account organically grow by the thousands per month,” Tarah told us.
And you can’t argue with the data over the course of 2018, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit’s main Instagram account has grown to more than 31,000 followers, and is adding around 2,700 new followers per month.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if you can’t get people in your doors. We encourage our millennial following to join the hot little party with mouth-watering images, easily accessible Facebook events, and most of all, keeping things fun!”
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Spreading its message locally, and nationally
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit has three eateries: two in Charleston, South Carolina, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. But that doesn’t stop Tarah from using social media to share the brand’s message and voice far and wide.
“Our social channels are truly the voice of our brand,” Tarah explained.
“We are lucky to have our first location in a vacation destination like Charleston, and even though our followers are mostly local, we are able to get our voice out to the entire country. Non-local growth is just as important [as local].”
By thinking outside of the local areas in which it operates, Callie’s has been able to grow a brand that’s recognized by biscuit-lovers across the U.S. (and even further afield).
This approach has lead to new opportunities for Callie’s to run events, and generate sales, outside of Charleston and Atlanta. For example, Callie’s recently teamed up with Packed Party, a Texas-based online boutique, to promote National Biscuit Month, and this partnership was so successful on social media that it led to Callie’s running an event in Texas. As Tarah told us:
“Even though we were states apart, we used both voices to drive traffic to our stores and increase brand awareness in Texas. Our Texas following increased so much that we ended the month with a pop up in Austin.”
Working with partners and influencers
The event in Texas isn’t the only time Callie’s has worked with partners and influencers. In fact, it’s a staple part of their social media strategy.
“We love partnering with brands that share our values because it allows our followers to learn about amazing artisans and it brings new followers to us,” Tarah explained.
“Our largest events have been in partnership with amazing groups such as Create and Cultivate (500+ person event) and a seated dinner for 100 during Charleston Wine + Food week.”
These kinds of events are marketed heavily through social media, email marketing, and local press outlets. Callie’s likes to give away tickets on its social channels to increase awareness and build its audience. During these events, Callie’s also takes followers who are unable to attend behind-the-scenes using Instagram Stories.
And when it comes to launching new eateries, partnerships and influencer campaigns play a big role in establishing a new, local audience:
“This summer, we made a large effort to partner with more brands and influencers to grow our Atlanta account. This is an account that was on a slow-and-steady growth pace and partnering with big voices in town instantly made a difference,” Tarah shared.
Pro tip: Run small, exclusive events for followers
“Our locations are fairly small, so we keep events to a limited amount of people. Advertising a certain amount of tickets gives the allure of exclusivity, and Instagrammers love being ‘in the know’. Our email and social channels are our largest platforms for our voice, so posting event details to increase ticket sales is just logical for us.”
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
How your business can use social media to drive offline sales
Tarah also shared four pro-tips for businesses that are looking to use social media to drive footfall and sales offline:
1. Be consistent
“Have a consistent online presence. The more followers see you, the more you will be on their minds when they’re looking for something to do on the weekend.”
2. Share information often.
“In a world of constant scrolling and swiping, you want to make things effortless for your followers,” Tarah shared.
“Give them any and all information necessary to get to your event. Instagram stories are a great tool for event information because you can use multiple slides to get the point across. I always include swipe up feature with a link to the Facebook event.”
3. Boost with ads
“For non-local events, we often use Facebook and Instagram ads to reach a targeted location. We boosted our ticket sales in Texas by targeting the neighborhood where the event was located and using key terms to attract our audience.”
4. Go behind-the-scenes
“Lastly, give your customers and followers a piece of your personal life,” Tarah recommended.
“No one wants to follow a brand that is only trying to sell them something. We share personal stories, family recipes, and behind the scenes imagery of our lives at the bakery. These glimpses into the ‘life of a biscuiteer’ are free!”
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