Social Media: How to Embrace the Worldwide Phenomena & Harness Its Power (Part 1)

Part 1: A Perfect Social Media Example to Emulate

From a mysterious teenage obsession to a business prerequisite, social media has exploded onto the market in a matter of years and changed the name of the marketing game. Businesses today can no longer afford to ignore or postpone harnessing the power of this phenomena to suit their needs. Small businesses, especially, have a lot to gain by implementing a social media strategy. In fact, like in the case of Curbside Cupcakes, it could very well be the key to your success.

When Samuel Whitfield III and Kristi Cunningham, owners of Curbside Cupcakes, quit their stable jobs in the middle of a recession to sell cupcakes from a truck, all of their friends and family thought they were crazy. But, they both believed they had a solid business plan and a great product. While most mobile vendors simply show up and wait for customers to come to them, Curbside Cupcakes uses their social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to announce where and when people can find them that day.

Owners, Samuel and Kristi with their mobile cupcake company.

The couple makes their cupcakes, notifies their followers of that day’s destination and heads to the chosen spot for 30 minutes or until the line dies down. With 11,175 Twitter followers and 20,280 Facebook fans to date, Curbside Cupcakes is a perfect example of a social media success story.

This small business harnessed the power of social media by generating excitement, engaging with their customers, getting an advantage over their competition and building a loyal consumer base. Their customers get a thrill from keeping up with the Cupcake truck, sharing the fun with their friends and having a direct line to the people behind the business. Here’s a few examples of what their customers post on Curbside Cupcakes’ profiles:

Commenter 1: WOW, I had these for the first time and they were delicious. My coworkers @ DC Water enjoyed them as well. Now its time to run up & down these 11 flights of stairs!!!

Commenter 2: @Sharon, you’ve been hooked! Now you’ll be like the rest of us, anxiously waiting for Pinky every week. 🙂


Curbside Cupcakes: Navy Yard, you’re the first wildcard winner, we’re on our way! McPherson, you’ll be up next and then 19th & L if supplies last! Commenter: im on mi way save me some raspberry nd pls dont leave wit out me


Curbside Cupcakes' Raspberry Lemonade

Curbside Cupcakes: Happy Friday, Cupcake Nation! We are on our way to our first stop of the day, 18th and E St., NW. We’ll be there in about 20 minutes.

Commenter 1 (Kenyatta): 18 & E is the first stop and you don’t even have the flavor I want today. 😦 Guess I’ll give the Pumpkin Walnut and Raspberry Lemonade a try. See you soon.

Curbside Cupcakes: Kenyatta, I think you might love the Pumpkin Walnut!

Commenter 2: Kenyatta, those 2 are very good, we are coming down from VA for more pumpkin, had it yesterday and it was GREAT, Raspberry Lemonade is one of my favs

Commenter 1 (Kenyatta): Yes, the pumpkin walnut is really good. I enjoyed it very much.

Commenter 3: VA is loving the Raspberry Lemonade. Don’t phase those out PLEASE!!

Customers, new and old, keep up with Curbside Cupcakes on a daily basis. And those 30,000 or so that make up the company’s online community are like having an army of 30,000 promoters helping to build and maintain momentum behind the brand and a 30,000-strong focus group giving the owners valuable feedback that will help them make their business stronger. You would be hard-pressed to get that kind of success and value through any other type of marketing.

However, social media is still largely in its early stages of development. It moves and re-shapes regularly with new technologies popping up all of the time. The key to success is to be flexible enough to follow and adapt to the changes, to implement a strategy unique to your company’s goals and to not be afraid of failure. If an effort fails to bring the desired rewards, switch up your strategy and try, try again.

Click here to read Part 2: What is social media, exactly, and how do I use it?


Allison Baker is the Co-Founder of and has extensive experience as a social media strategist and marketing consultant.

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