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What hand-crafted cannoli can teach you about social media


Two smiling woman's bakers wearing aprons in front of a cannoli food sales stand

Making the kind of Sicilian-inspired cannoli that lights up the hearts of local foodies comes easily to the owners of Cannoli Crunch, a Meridian Credit Union Member and booming Toronto business that harnesses the power of social media marketing to drive sales.

How it started

The idea for a business devoted exclusively to hand-crafted cannoli came to the co-owner, Chef Maria, in 2018. “Specialty cupcakes, cookies and doughnuts all had their day, but traditional Italian cannoli has stayed true to its simple roots for 1,200 years,” she says. Being Sicilian, she’s no stranger to the classic pistachio, cherry, orange, and chocolate recipes that make cannoli a staple of Italian life. But it didn’t take long for the inspired chef to pen over 400 modern variations. She plans to make them all with the help of her business partner, Mignonne Spiegelman, and their devoted staff — to the delight of her growing fan base.

To keep things fresh, Cannoli Crunch offers all the classics combined with a rotating list of new flavours. That’s why there's a very good chance fans will be the first in the world to discover, and fall in love with, the latest creations.

Getting likes, followers and shares

The bakery is just over two years old but it’s been growing up fast, thanks to full measures of enthusiasm for product quality and social media marketing. “We didn’t have a defined plan for activating all the social media channels,” says co-owner Spiegelman. “We just looked at them all from Instagram to TikTok to Pinterest and said ‘Here we come.’”

They knew they had beautiful, hand-made delicacies that would be very Instagram-friendly, so they hired a professional photographer and started posting. A nice surprise was the reaction of Toronto’s foodies. Fans of cannoli were reposting photos and writing glowing reviews for their followers. “Having those kind of endorsements really helped us to amplify our brand and got more people trying our cannoli” says Spiegelman.

6 tips for social media success, according to Cannoli Crunch

1. Make it look good

No matter what you promote on social media, it has to be visually appealing and it has to feel right for the channel. Here are a few pointers for getting the right shot and creating the perfect moment online.

If you’re featuring a product, consider hiring a professional photographer for a day to create an inventory of shots you can repurpose in various media. Bring them back when you have new items. It’s worth the investment to impress your audience.

Consider paying for training so that you and your team can learn to shoot beautiful photos and videos. If you’re promoting a service or an experience, make sure you’re always capturing moments so you can keep your posts fresh.

Even if your product is something invisible, like software, you can still use pictures to tell your story with posts that demonstrate corporate culture or how you’re involved in the community.

2. Be consistent

For the Cannoli Crunch team, consistency is everything. From farm-to-table ingredients, including authentic ricotta cheese and house-made jellies, to custom take-out boxes, customers see the dedication that goes into every new recipe and they line up to try them. “We do things differently, but we’re always different in the same way,” says Chef Maria. “What works in one channel might not work in another. So, you modify your story to look a little different on TikTok than it would on LinkedIn, for example, but you never veer from the basic message: We love making cannoli.”

3. Have fun

If you’re having fun on social media, it shows, and people will gravitate to your positive energy. Your audience can spot generic content in a heartbeat. “We happen to have a product that is visually beautiful and whets the appetite,” says Spiegelman, “but no matter what you’re selling, enthusiasm matters. The worst thing you can be is boring.”

4. Stick to a schedule

How often you post to social media comes down to how often you can offer something fresh, engaging, and shareable. Weekly should be your goal but posting up to three or four times a week is better, and not as challenging as it seems. If you’re stumped for an idea, you can:

Repost something positive

If someone gave your company a good review, thank them and repost their comment. It’s a great way to show you care about your customers. “We couldn’t have planned for the amazing response of the foodie community in Toronto,” says Spiegelman. “But once we saw the reaction, we began to engage with them immediately.” 

Post about something close to people’s hearts

Post a story about a person or a company doing something newsworthy and positive in your community or industry. Everyone likes good news.

5. Be your own ambassador

Many owners may find it challenging to carve out time to post consistently across various social media channels. It can be tempting to hire people to activate and manage all of your social media channels, especially for owners who don’t feel confident working the apps and coming up with content ideas. This is a good idea when the person responsible for the posts can convey the passion and enthusiasm of the company but a bad idea if the content is bland or lacks authenticity. It also increases payroll.

All of the popular social media channels make it very easy for anyone to generate their own great content. Spiegelman’s advice is, “Just get started and let people get to know you. Owners are the best brand ambassadors and showing your face makes the whole thing more personal.”

6. Use paid posts to amplify your content

Popular social media channels make it easy to turn posts, reels, and stories into paid ads that target the type of audience you select. By creating a specific profile, you can improve the odds that your ad reaches people who want what you have to offer. You set and control the budget. It’s a low-cost way to experiment with channels and messages until you find the best combination for your business. Warning: Learning to edit video can be addictive and fun. 

Here are a few guides that explain how to get started:

Follow Cannoli Crunch

Remember: An authentic brand story, combined with showcasing a great product can generate a following across social media platforms and drive business.

Follow @cannolicrunch on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to see how it’s done!

Learn more about managing your business

How to use TikTok to grow your business

Time to outsource payroll

How an Ontario grocer turned zero waste into profit

Meridian Credit Union communications are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice or an opinion on any issue. We would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations if desired.

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