Babinda Independent Bakery is owned and run by Annette and Mick McAlloon. They have owned the bakery for about 4 years and have been using Facebook to connect with their customers since April 2011. We spoke to Annette in between customers and phone calls to see how online technologies work for her business.

Check out Babinda Bakery's Facebook page!

How did you get started?

We set up a business page after 'taking over' a place page already created by Facebook. We were already on there and didn't know it! Apparently Facebook creates these pages when other people 'check in ' when visiting your business. When we looked we already had 66 'followers'! I was surprised to see pictures of our cakes and coffees put up there by customers. We grew very quickly and now have over 400 likes and we're still growing. Before this the only thing I did online was email.

Why did you decide to get online?

People were talking about it, travelers were taking photos and putting them on Facebook and asking us if we were on there.

Did you have any reservations about using the technology before you started?

Yes, I was very unfamiliar with online technology and Facebook in particular although my sons have it. I was nervous because I was apprehensive about what people put on there and some of the negative things I had heard about it.

What problems have you faced?

Nothing! only positive.

What does using the technology involve and how do you find the time?

My sons help with the admin. We will sit down every couple of weeks and load up 7 or 8 posts to go out at 6pm every night, Facebook allows you to do that. We check the private messages every night because we have had orders through it. Also if theres a problem we want to fix it straight away, although we haven't had to yet. Timewise it takes less than ten minutes to have a look although I end up spending half an hour on my personal interests which I enjoy!

We put stories about our staff and local community events that involve our products. We ran a photo competition asking people to send in their pics along the theme 'water'. The response wasn't huge but we are happy to try it again, you need to persist and find out what works.

I also share interesting stories - such as the 'suspended coffee' idea where customers can buy an extra coffee and 'suspend' it, and a person in need can go in later and be provided with a cup at no cost to themselves. We had a lot of positive feedback about that post.

We've put little signs on our tables to let customers know they can 'check in' online to the bakery, which means they tell all their friends they are here and this goes out to all their friends on Facebook.

What is the best part about using the online technology? What results have you noticed?

For me, just learning how to use Facebook for my own personal growth was great, I really enjoy the newsfeed which I scroll through to read about things that interest me - I can tailor it to my own interests outside work. It's been great being able to see the feedback coming directly from our customers, which has been 100% positive. I share this with my staff, or they see it themselves if they are on Facebook. It's also something I can talk to my sons about! Everytime we put things on the page, our 'likes' grow, which means more people seeing our updates everytime.

What advice do you have for people thinking about getting online?

Definitely give it a go; don't be scared!

What future plans do you have?

I want to be able to access the internet at my front counter on my iPad so I can easily monitor the Facebook page and my email throughout the day when I get a minute between customers; and I'm interested in a webpage for information and online ordering, or using Pinterest to showcase our products...I just need the time to learn more and get it set up!

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