Don’t try to do everything at once. There isn’t time. Pick one platform and become an expert on it. Once you’ve got that one down, you can consider moving on to another one.
We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?
In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Stefani Pollack.
Stefani Pollack is the founder of Cupcake Project, a source for classic and unique dessert recipes with over 1 million followers across social platforms. She is also the co-founder of The Bake Fest, the ultimate virtual gathering for bakers around the world, and Build Digital Marketing, a social media management agency focused on Instagram growth. Stefani lives in St. Louis, Missouri and practices circus arts in her spare time.
Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?
My baking blog, Cupcake Project, began in 2007 as a way of documenting my quest to master the cupcake in time to bake hundreds of them for a friend’s wedding. I never expected blogging to turn into a career. As more and more people started reading the blog and following along on the journey, I found ways to monetize my site through advertising. Once social media came along, I took my readers there, grew new audiences, and began doing more sponsored work with baking brands. My success led to the creation of my social media agency, and when I noticed that there was a lack of community-building opportunities in the baking world, I partnered with Darren Fox to create The Bake Fest.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?
You have to pivot constantly. I am always keeping up with trends, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and adjusting my businesses accordingly. The online world changes so rapidly and you will fall behind if you don’t change with it.
We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?
During the pandemic, everyone was looking for ways to connect. Creating a virtual conference for bakers allowed people the opportunity to connect, learn, and grow during a time of social isolation. We heard from so many people that The Bake Fest inspired them and helped them grow their skills and their businesses in a way that wouldn’t have happened without the event.
Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?
Build a mailing list. I’ve seen too many people lose their social media accounts and have nothing to fall back on. Make sure that you start collecting emails so that you have a community that you can directly connect with.
Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?
It’s so hard to not compare yourself to others. I fight it every single day. I determine my success based on a simple checklist:
- Am I financially comfortable?
- Am I overall enjoying what I do for a living?
- Do I have time to devote to my family and friends?
- Do I have time to care for my physical and mental wellbeing?
What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?
I don’t have a strategy. Because it’s the most important thing to me, it’s what I do.
How do you reduce or mitigate stress?
My family and friends are everything to me. I spend a lot of time on the phone (yes, the actual phone — not texting) talking with people I care about. I also connect twice a week with a group of friends on a Zoom call, take daily walks, and practice aerial silks.
I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t try to do everything at once. There isn’t time. Pick one platform and become an expert on it. Once you’ve got that one down, you can consider moving on to another one.
2. Niche down. I’m not saying that you can’t be a general lifestyle influencer, but it is MUCH easier if you pick a very specific topic.
3. Video is a must. Don’t shy away from video. Every single platform is favoring video right now. Try it.
4. Post at least once a day on your platform of choice. When I was in extreme growth mode on my Instagram account, I was posting 5 times a day. More content gives you more chances for people to discover you.
5. Experiment with different types of content. You never know what is going to resonate until you try it. I went viral on TikTok for trying to seal a pretzel bag with a flat iron. It ended up turning into a series with each post getting close to 1M views.
What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?
That is what The Bake Fest is all about. There are built-in networking opportunities throughout the entire event.
As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
One thing I’ve learned in my career is to ask for help when I need it. I couldn’t know on my own what would bring the most amount of good to the largest group of people. It’s not my area of expertise, so I would reach out to experts in the area of social justice to help create the best possible movement.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂
There are too many to name! I’d love to talk with any of the visionaries from Google, Facebook, or Instagram, anyone who plans large conferences, and any inspiring bakers. I love getting to know new people and exchanging ideas.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
They can subscribe to my blog on https://www.cupcakeproject.com and follow @cupcakeproject on all social media platforms. They can learn about The Bake Fest (https://www.thebakefest.com) and follow @the.bake.fest on Instagram.
Thank you for these thought-provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!