I’m the kind of person who believes cupcakes are a necessity. I’ll have them for breakfast, for dinner, as a midnight snack … you get it. This love for all things sweet and sugary led me to plan and host a baby shower with one thing in mind: beautiful, well-crafted dessert. Luckily (or thanks to my extensive social media research, rather) I came across Short and Sweet Treats, a local company that provided the most delicious cupcakes and a seamless experience. I have put in several orders since.
Short and Sweet Treats started as Ryan Short’s dream back in 2005 at the young age of 10. At the time she was attending Young Chef’s Academy, where she was chosen to participate in a live recording with Rachel Ray in her upcoming episode on The Food Network. A few years later, during her college career at Johnson and Wales University her entire world opened to the never-ending possibilities of all things sweet. Her passion for baking, excellent customer relations skills and desire to serve the South Florida area were the perfect recipe (see what I did there?) for a business that’s simply become a staple for SoFlo locals. But it didn’t end here. As Ryan’s business grew and evolved, so did her need for multi-channel advertising. That’s when social media became an essential part of Short and Sweet Treats.
I spoke with Ryan Short, owner of Short and Sweet Treats, about how Social Media has shaped her business and how she manages growth and retention through creative baking.
Cindy: Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring social media and focusing on other forms of advertising. When did you realize that social media would be a key ingredient for your company’s success?
Ryan: I’m a Millennial so growing up during the evolution of Social Media really influenced my advertising strategies. My entire teen years consisted of mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr and Myspace, which is when I came to realize… 90% of the things I bought were because I either saw it on Social Media or saw a friend wearing it on a picture posted on their wall. At the beginning, Social Media was a free advertisement tool that wasn’t screaming in your face “BUY NOW.” It’s changed the way we shop and continues to change the way we make decisions and our buying habits whether we realize it or not.
Cindy: Did you have previous social media marketing experience?
Ryan: I’ve had very little experience with Social Media Marketing. In High School I took a few Marketing classes where I joined the DECA Team which trains students in marketing skills such as advertising, communication, leadership and hospitality. Audible was another helpful tool I used to navigate marketing through social media. Books like The Third Door by Alex Banayan and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy really helped open my mind to the different possibilities of marketing.
Cindy: How much of your business is generated through social channels?
Ryan: I would say 95%. Instagram is my main channel of advertising. My very first order found me through Instagram and I continue to get most of my orders that way. I also post weekly to my Google Business Page, which is an awesome tool in my opinion! You can create an entire website with a cover page and post details about your business for free! Potential customers can find you by searching keywords through the Google Search Engine and Past Customers can post their feedback/reviews on their experience! Other than that, word of mouth is my only other form of advertising so… spread the word!
Cindy: Do you have a social media strategy or editorial calendar you work from?
Ryan: I struggle with this the most! In my case, it’s almost like a diet; I stick to a schedule strictly for a couple weeks and slowly find myself going off in another direction. Hopefully just like a diet, I will soon find what works best for my business to create a seamless blueprint that benefits not only my business, but potential customers.
Cindy: Was social media a big part of your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ryan: When Covid-19 started, I panicked. I didn’t have any orders for the first couple of months during the pandemic but continued practicing my craft live on Social Media platforms anyway. Thankfully, these mini tutorials spiked a huge interest on my page! I gained followers and got in touch with clients who were rescheduling their recently cancelled celebrations. By May, orders were coming in consistently and in result, ended up being one of the most successful months in my business thus far!
Cindy: Where do you see your business going, and how will your social strategy evolve with it?
Ryan: In the near future I hope to have a simple, interactive website that allows visitors to customize their order and add personalizations, as well as providing information, Q&A and past clients testimonies in order for them to make an informed decision for their next occasion. At this moment in my business, I’m focusing most on building my clientele and finding my style in the baking world, but I intend to transition to providing content with knowledge and tips so baking doesn’t have to feel so intimidating.
Cindy: What would you tell other business owners who simply don’t have the time to focus on marketing?
Ryan: Your product can be THE BEST in the world. Your hospitality can be 5 stars, but if your ideal client isn’t finding you, then the rest doesn’t matter. Staying up with Social Media is difficult, sometimes days will pass and I think “Oh man, I haven’t been engaging lately” and my business will take a significant hit due to it. Keeping up with the never-ending change in algorithms and updates can be frustrating but taking the time to figure out what works best for your business and your potential customers is going to be your business’s savior in the end.
I’m definitely someone who struggles with time management and a book that has REALLY helped me with this is The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. My best advice would be to hang in there and try new things. Stay consistent with the things you’ve noticed work and play with the things that don’t work as well as you’d hoped.
You Finding The Sweet Spot
Yes, the cupcakes, cookies and cakes are amazing but, most importantly, Ryan has built a business that focuses on customer experience and truly understands the emotion of ordering a treat for a special occasion. Leave a comment below and let me know what your business is doing to grow their social media!
Are you in the South Florida area? Reach out to Ryan and mention this article for 20% off your next order! You won’t be disappointed. You can also follow Short and Sweet Treats on Instagram and Facebook.