I did this interesting interview with Caitlin Sykes on Instagram in early 2016.
When did The Caker get started on Instagram?
My first post was almost four years ago, in the early days of Instagram here. I started out posting photos of cakes I was making, but they were mixed in with photos from my own life, so it was a mix of personal and business content. But when I noticed my followers were starting to grow I decided to go back and delete all those personal photos and dedicate the account solely to The Caker.
I remember some big milestones we reached with Instagram, like reaching 5,000 followers around two years ago. Then about a year-and-a-half ago we went from 9,000 to 12,000 almost overnight thanks to a very special someone with an enormous following who posted a photo and tagged The Caker.
It's now grown to a point where our Instagram account is the most important thing to the business. We treat it with the utmost care and dedication because it really is everything to us.
Why is it so important?
I don't think we could have gotten the business to where it is today without Instagram because it's been key to spreading the word about The Caker, not only in New Zealand but on an international scale. We have such a visual product, so Instagram naturally works well for us.
And it's not just us posting photos that boosts our profile; when people post a photo after they've ordered from us, or made a cake from one of our cookbooks or from one of our cake mixes and tag us in, their followers see the post and start to follow us too. It has a snowball effect. So ultimately the real tangible impact it's had on us has been increasing awareness of our brand, which ultimately leads to more sales.
Who generates your content?
I do all the Instagramming for the business, although my sister Anouk - who has a really good eye for photos - takes some of the pictures. I've been our voice on Instagram from day one and I think it's good to keep that consistent. We mostly post photos of cakes we make on a daily basis, but definitely not all the cakes we produce make the cut to be published. We'll post special wedding cakes, new additions to the menu, cool collabs we're doing, photos of our cake mixes in lovely settings, our new cookbook - our content has to have a reason to be seen.
Also, every now and then I'll post a photo of myself or the team. The photos still have to be relevant to cakes and baking but I think it's important to keep a personal element and show the faces behind the brand.
How much time do you dedicate to Instagram?
It's just so ingrained into my day I couldn't really say; I'll just do it in any spare time I find. I do try to post something every day or every other day, and I haven't found the timing of the posts matters too much. I also spend a lot of time on Instagram checking out what everyone else is doing. I follow so many bakers; it's really the best way to keep up with what's going on around the world with baking.
What advice do you have for other business owners wanting to grow their following on Instagram?
I think the most successful Instagram accounts focus on one thing, and one thing only. For us I notice as soon as we post something that's not directly about cakes or baking it doesn't get as many likes. We still do that every now and then so that our followers get a glimpse into our lives, but I think it's key to keep it as professional as possible.
Photos have to be good quality and I think people respond well to uniformity. For example, all our photos have a white border around them and we brighten them to the same degree, so when you scroll through our feed it's consistent and aesthetically pleasing.
Also, it's important not to make any of your posts look or feel like an ad. People send me quite a lot of stuff with the idea of me posting it in return, but I'm always really sceptical when I'm asked to do that. Obviously I'm happy to do it if I really believe in a product and love it, but I'm very careful not to make our account look like we're always selling something.