Success Stories: Eight Questions With Mari Luangrath, Owner Of Foiled Cupcakes

Foiled Cupcakes owner, Mari Luangrath

In this installment of Success Stories, I interviewed Mari Luangrath, owner of Foiled Cupcakes, about her social media usage.  Foiled Cupcakes sells cupcakes exclusively through their website and delivers them all throughout the Chicago area.  Mari is a champion of Twitter and Facebook and estimates 90% of her business comes from social media.

1.)  How did you begin using social media?

I started using Facebook a few years ago, just for personal use. And I hopped onto Twitter totally by accident. Over dinner, a friend said, “Hey, Twitter might be really good for you to launch your new business. Have you heard of it?” And I said, “I think Twitter sounds like Facebook status updates on steroids. Who would care?” But after a few days of tinkering around on Twitter, it seemed like people were responding, and ended up being a great way to network with people I had never met before.

2.)  You have gotten a lot of press for your use of Twitter, but are there other social media applications that you find are just as important and effective?  Which is your favorite social media application?

We use Facebook and our blog. One that’s overlooked a lot is LinkedIn, which I use quite a bit for strategic professional networking and for partnerships.  LinkedIn has been really useful from a B2B standpoint. A lot of our clients are businesses, so we’ve used LinkedIn to network with corporate gatekeepers: HR, administrative professionals, in-office catering networks, etc. We also connect with others in the hospitality space and network with event/wedding planners as well, referring business to them. Inevitably, because of the relationships we’ve built, they refer business to us, so it’s always a win-win.

3.)  What are your plans to expand on your use of social media?

I’ve dabbled in Foursquare a bit, but I’m still not totally sure how we could apply it since we don’t have a storefront and all of our cupcakes are personally delivered. I guess we’ll just see what inspiration hits us with regard to all of these social media platforms, and see which ones are actually viable, and then go with it.

4.)  How do you integrate your personality into your social media use for your business?  Do you think putting your own personality into social media helps to grow your brand?

To a fault, I integrate my own personality (perhaps too much). How do we do it? I’m not totally sure. We tweet pictures of crazy things we see that may not have anything to do with cupcakes. We respond to everybody on Facebook and throw questions back at them. We connect on LinkedIn with professionals and then follow through with the personal connection. I don’t know how brands can’t NOT put personality into their social media strategy. It’s what relationships are built on.

5.)  What are the biggest challenges to your social media usage?  And what are your biggest lessons learned?

Biggest challenge = getting way sucked in, time-wise. I have to learn to turn off Tweetdeck and shut down Facebook. It’s a struggle when you’re having a great conversation with someone!

6.)  What are your tips for a small business owner just starting out in social media?

Jump in! It can be a lot of fun. Everybody says, “I don’t know what {insert whatever social media application here} is all about.” I said it. And my opinion is you won’t find out unless you just jump in and give it a shot. If you say something that’s “wrong,” it won’t be the end of the world. Just try it and get a feel for it. See which ones work for you and your brand/product/service. And once you find a good thing that seems to click, roll with it!

7.)  On a typical day, how much time do you actually spend using social media?

I wish I could say I’m regimented enough to hop online every day and manage our social media on a regular basis, but that’s just unrealistic. There are so many varying demands on my time that social media sometimes gets pushed to midnight or gets ignored for a few days. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world. So I guess the answer would be… as much time as I can squeeze in. In reality, that probably adds up to around 30-45 minutes a day, averaged out over a week.

8.) How much of your business comes from social media?

If you could trace it all back to one source, it’d be social media. 90% or so of our leads come from direct or indirect links to social media.  That also stems from blog articles, videos, press, etc. – and those people heard about us through social media.

Thanks Mari for talking with us!  To learn more about Foiled Cupcakes, visit their website or follow Mari on Twitter @foiledcupcakes


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