Thank you all for participating in the most recent questionnaire in my Sugar Dot Surveys series. In this survey, I asked you questions about how you use social media to share your cookie decorating business or hobby. I was curious about the effort you put into it, if that effort is paying off, and what we can learn from each other about our best practices on various social media platforms.
I teach cookie decorating and business classes. I share my knowledge with students, but always let them know that my way is just ONE way to do things. I encourage my students to join sites like Cookie Connection and groups on social media, so that they can get many opinions and learn a variety of methods to do what we do. There’s an incredible amount to learn from our community.
Let's see what you had to say about social media!
At the time this post was written, 73 of you had responded to the survey. The majority of respondents (73%) consider themselves professionals, meaning that they take money for cookies or some cookie-related activity (i.e., teaching, products, sponsorships, instructional videos, etc.). Only 27% of respondents decorate cookies as a hobby. Most of us (61%) are relative newcomers to cookies, having participated in them (as a hobby or business) for three years or less. Only 15% are long-timers with 10 or more years of cookie experience.
Most of us (78%) post about cookies on business social media accounts, meaning ones that bear the name of our businesses. Just 22% of respondents post about cookies on personal social media pages that bear their own names. Hmmmm. Notice a correlation between these numbers and those above about professional status?
(BTW, as I move through this post, I'll be sharing several member-submitted screenshots of their favorite social media moments. Below is the first!)
Screenshot of Facebook Page Insights; Photo by Valerie McDaniel of Valerie’s Cakes and More
Facebook and Instagram are by far our most frequently used social media platforms for posting about cookies. A whopping 91% of respondents use Facebook weekly or more frequently, whereas 77% use Instagram as frequently. Pinterest is a distant third with only 12% using it weekly or more often. YouTube and Twitter bring up the rear at about 3% and 1%, respectively. Are you surprised by those numbers? I expected Facebook and Instagram to be at the top. They happen to be the two that I use most often. It doesn't surprise me at all that Twitter and YouTube are the least used among us. Twitter is a much less visual platform, and YouTube caters to the relative few of us who make long-form videos.
As for screen time spent on cookie-related social media, our responses are more evenly distributed, with 23% spending less than 5 minutes per day; 24% spending 6 to 15 minutes; another 24% spending 16 to 30 minutes; and 16% spending 31 minutes to 1 hour. There are a few extremists (about 7%) who report spending 2 or more hours per day posting, responding to comments on their posts, and generally managing their social media accounts! Phew!
In another question, I asked which platform is your favorite. About 55% of you prefer Facebook, while 38% of you prefer Instagram. Perhaps not surprisingly, not a single person mentioned Twitter or Pinterest, and only one person mentioned YouTube. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Ahem . . . that one person was me . . . but I post a lot of YouTube videos. They earn me hard cash, which is more than I can say about my videos posted on any other platform. And this cookier needs as much hard cash as she can get to fuel her cookie tool habit! ] From what I've read recently, Facebook is still the largest social media site, but Instagram is the fastest growing. It will be interesting to see if Instagram's popularity with cookiers surpasses that of Facebook in the coming years.
- easiest to use/most comfortable with it;
- reaches a larger or more targeted audience;
- receives the most engagement/inquiries/purchases;
- is more interesting/visually appealing; and
- generates more revenue.
Interestingly though, for each reason given, there was often no consensus as to the platform. Ease of use? That's the reason many of you prefer Facebook. Guess what? That's also the reason many prefer Instagram! Reaching a larger audience or your target market? For some it's Facebook. For others, it's Instagram.
Screenshot of Facebook Bio; Photo by Amanda Powers of Red Apron Confections
In the survey, I also asked how frequently you create new cookie posts for social media and what type of content you most often post. First, let's tackle the frequency issue. The vast majority of us (92%) post a few times a week or less, with 26% posting once every other week, 23% posting once a week, and 24% posting a few times per week. Again, there are a few people (about 3%) on the extreme who report posting three or more times a day. About 45% are satisfied with the frequency with which they create new content, whereas 54% think that they should be posting more frequently. Interestingly, these results correlate pretty well with the results of Question 18, where about 63% of you report being only "okay" or less than okay with the size and growth of your social media following, and another 37% say you are doing pretty well or better. Could it be that we attribute our relative size and growth to how frequently we engage with our following? But what about quality of engagement? How does it factor into our thinking and social media performance? More on that topic toward the end of this post . . .
Screenshot of Facebook Post; Photo by Marcela González of Encanté
Onto the matter of type of content posted . . . The vast majority of us (84%) are always posting photos or mostly posting photos with an occasional video thrown in. Just 16% are posting a regular mix of photos and videos. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I find this result rather interesting, because it's very clear that videos get the most engagement on almost every platform. They are also relatively easy to monetize, especially on YouTube. I wonder why more of us aren't posting them to expand our followings and earnings? Are the technology hurdles too high? Do we feel we can more controllably "edit" photos, or that photos are less risky in some way? If you've been holding off on video, do tell why in the comments below.]
As for monetization, 77% report that they are NOT directly receiving income through ads or sponsored/paid posts. Those of us who ARE monetizing do so mostly through Facebook (19%) and Instagram (7%). My guess is that we'd all love to be monetizing, but don't know how or don't yet have the reach (or am I just speaking for myself here?!).
Screenshot of TV Actress Sharing Cookies Made for Her!; Photo by Mary-Jean McMillan of So Extra Sweets
The next survey question that I want to address is of special interest to me, because it's something I struggle with. The question asked about posting personal content to your cookie business page. Just under half of you (53%) sprinkle in personal posts, 32% never post anything personal, and 4% post quite a lot of personal content. (The remaining 11% of respondents don't have a business page.) It would be interesting to delve into this topic more deeply. I'd love to know why you do or don't post personal content. Do you think doing so or not doing so helps or hurts? Again, please share in the comments below.
Screenshot of Instagram Insights for Most Popular Post; Photo by Christine Dutcher of Sweet Prodigy
So, let's look at the numbers. We asked respondents to estimate their total number of followers/fans/subscribers across all of their social media platforms. The majority of us (74%) have fewer than 1,000 followers; 18% have between 1,001 and 10,000; and 7% have between 10,001 and 50,000. One amazing respondent has between 500,000 and 1 million! (Might that be our own Julia Usher?)
The good news is: number of followers matters less to most of us than you might have guessed! More than half (55%) cite quantity of cookie or cookie-related sales as their greatest measure of success, followed by encouragement or positive reinforcement of their work at 50%. Size of following ranked fifth at 27%. Further, the majority of you (78%) either love social media and get a lot out of it (12%) or feel that you get what you put into it (66%). Not a bad return on investment!
Screenshot of Typical Tag List; Photo by Shea Cronley of Kidoccookies
- lack of interest/investment;
- not wanting to post regularly, only when you have art to share;
- not posting regularly, period;
- physical limitations;
- new to business and unsure of direction;
- not having the time or knowledge to handle social media;
- poor quality photos/videos;
- inability to produce enough engaging content;
- platform algorithms preventing posts from being seen by entire following;
- posts not as instructive as they could be (too many announcements); and
- concern about over-posting and/or being pushy about product sales.
Screenshot of Most Liked Photo; Photo by Noriko Forster of mintlemonade, aka Cookie Crumbs
- being active and forming relationships on sites like Cookie Connection;
- engaging with followers;
- encouraging readers to engage, i.e., comment, like, and share;
- engaging with similar accounts;
- posting with intention;
- promoting posts;
- posting regularly/frequently;
- inviting people to like your page;
- taking high quality photos;
- tagging vendors;
- enjoying what you do and enjoying the sharing of it; and
- providing quality work and customer service.
Screenshot of Post Showing First Competition Piece; Photo by Daniela Matos of Craftscookies
You all are some smart cookies! Thank you for your advice, for the screenshots seen above, and for participating! Thank you for allowing us to learn from YOU. It can all be overwhelming - balancing life and business. Social media plays an important role in businesses today. It can be intimidating, depressing, fun, and exhilarating. My wishes for you (and for me!) . . . Take it easy on yourself. Do what you can. Strive to learn. Strive to do the best you can. Strive to let go of the rest (the comparisons, insecurities, doubts, frustrations). Here's to social media progress in 2020 that helps take your business where YOU want it to go!
This survey covered more than I can recap here, so if you took it, you can go back at any time to see the results for each question. If you haven't yet taken it, please do so by clicking on the pink link above! The survey will be open and capturing new responses in perpetuity! Once you take it, all of the results will reveal in the same place!
Also, please stay tuned for my next survey, which is due to post in a week or two!
Until next time,
Sugar Dot Cookies
Dotty Raleigh is the owner of Sugar Dot Cookies, which began in 2013 with custom cookie orders, and has since grown to include decorating classes and cookie parties. In 2018, Dotty began teaching a series of online classes called Cookies as Business and providing business e-books, which cover everything from finding the optimum shop location and workflow management to pricing and packaging cookies. Dotty loves sharing her years of experience and encouraging those just getting started in their own cookie businesses. Please visit Dotty's Cookie Connection member profile and Facebook and Instagram pages.
Photo credit: Dotty Raleigh
Note: Sugar Dot Surveys is a bimonthly Cookie Connection survey/blog feature designed to foster experience-sharing and identify best business and decorating practices. Dotty starts by posting a survey every other month about a specific cookie practice, tool, or technique, and concludes with a recap of responses aimed at helping everyone learn and grow. This article expresses the views of the author, and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To read all of Dotty's past Sugar Dot Surveys recaps, click here. And to see all of her surveys, click here.