It’s Twitter Tip Tuesday — every Tuesday we’ll focus on one Twitter Tip and show you how to integrate it into your social media strategy.

This week we’re profiling a real-world Twitter Success Story from Foiled Cupcakes — an online, gourmet cupcake business based in Chicago, IL. Using Twitter, Foiled Cupcakes went from zero to 2,200 targeted followers in less than six weeks, garnered a variety of national PR coverage, and surpassed its initial revenue target numbers by over 600 percent!

A Cupcake Business Started From Scratch

A Cupcake Business Started from Scratch

The first two lines of Foiled Cupcakes’ “About Us” page provides a telling clue to why this business has been so successful on Twitter: “At foiled, we believe one thing: Our customers are our friends.”

Mari Luangrath, CEO and “Head Cupcakeologist” of Foiled Cupcakes, reiterates that message when she tells the story of how her business got started back in 2009. “We’re exclusively an online ordering business and so when we started, we had a very traditional marketing plan,” says Mari. That is, until launch day when it was discovered that Foiled Cupcakes’ e-commerce website was developed improperly and could not be used without a complete redesign. “It was going to take six weeks to redo the website,” recalls Ms. Luangrath. “That’s when I decided to roll-up my sleeves, get on Twitter, and see if there was any way I could generate some interest in our business in the meantime,” she added.

Luangrath says that because they had no product yet, “we couldn’t very well get on there and tell everyone how awesome we were,” so she opted to try a conversational approach to Twitter instead. “We really started from scratch,” says Ms. Luangrath. “We followed people in our target demographic and began to converse with them about the things that they were interested in,” she says. Before long, those followers were spreading the word about Foiled Cupcakes to their followers, and the word-of-mouth marketing for her cupcakes just took off.

“When we finally launched the website we had over 2,200 engaged followers who felt like they were part of a cool community. They were talking about us and spreading our message without ever being asked,” Luangrath recalls with pride.

This strategy of hyper-engagement — without a hard sell — paid off for Foiled Cupcakes. The initial sales target, based on her original marketing plan was surpassed six times over. Luangrath credits this success to the pent-up demand generated on Twitter and the efforts of her followers to spread the word about her business.

Target Your Conversations

Target Your Conversations

Conversation is key to Twitter success, according to Mari. Even after all this time, “we’re still adamant about replying to everyone who mentions us“, she says. “I don’t like it when I see brands posting nothing but links to their stuff — I can just subscribe to an RSS feed for that.”

More recently, Foiled Cupcakes has had great success using Twitter lists. “We use three or four targeted lists, to engage with people in a few of our key vertical markets,” says Luangrath. “That way, we can really keep track of what people in our target audience are talking about and it makes it much easier to engaged with them,” she says.

Targeted engagement works both ways, adds Luangrath. “Twitter makes it so easy to reach out directly to people,” she says. “We’ve been approached by Investors Business Daily, American Express Open Forum, Entrepreneur Magazine. “We’ve also appeared on NBC and The Food Channel,” as a result of Foiled Cupcakes’ transparency and accessibility on social media platforms like Twitter, Luangrath says.

Foiled Cupcakes’ Twitter Success Story demonstrates that you don’t have to have a hard sell approach to generate sales. In fact, the opposite approach is often the key to success on Twitter. Engage your audience, talk about things that they are interested in and they will naturally and organically return the favor.

Have a Twitter Success Story of your own? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

[Image credits: Kate Hiscock, Mark Hunter]