Vegan Ladies of LA kicked off our first Meetup on Sunday at Babycakes in downtown Los Angeles where 13 of us gathered to make new friends and enjoy what this vegan bakery is most famous for — cupcakes! I’ve been resisting tasty treats like these so long I had a hard time believing I could really indulge. Reality set in pretty quickly though. I was done with the red velvet and halfway through my carrot cupcake before I realized I forgot to get a pic of them for my blog.
Founded in New York City by Erin McKenna in 2005, Babycakes makes all-natural, “mostly organic and gluten-free confections.”
Babycakes was out of the gluten-free versions of the cupcakes I wanted so I tried the spelt flour versions instead. Spelt flour is made from a grain similar to wheat but a whole lot healthier. So I cannot vouch for the gluten-free cupcakes but the spelt flour variety were quite good. The red velvet was my favorite but I should have known better than to get the carrot. I was there to splurge and carrot cake tastes way too healthy for me.
Though cupcakes are their claim to fame, Babycakes also bakes:
- Cinnamon buns
- Apple Pie
They never use white refined sugar, opting instead for agave nectar or, for some items, unrefined sugar. And they never bake with wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, casein or eggs.
My only complaints about Babycakes are the prices and the seating.
I wanted to try the cookie sandwiches with frosting in the middle. But these were very small cookies by most anyone’s standards and they wanted five dollars for them. Instead I got two cupcakes for $6.75, still a little pricy for my generally frugal budget. As for the seating, there were just a couple of small tables inside and one slightly larger table out front that only sat four of us. We made the best of it though, so immersed in good food and great company that no one seemed to care.
SOCIAL MEDIA REVIEW
Website/Blog — Of all the websites I have reviewed, Babycakes is hands-down the most impressive. In fact, it is one of the friendliest, cleanest, easy-to-navigate websites I’ve every seen. They’re right-on with every element, from the blog to the reviews page, to the ingredients list. The only suggestion I would make is providing more background information about founder Erin McKenna. The “voice” of the blog is hers so a profile of her on the About Us page would be a nice touch.
Twitter — Babycakes has two Twitter pages, one for its original NYC location and another for the store in LA. Aside from a larger follower count on the NYC version, both Twitter accounts are very similar. The following-to-follower ratio could be more balanced. For instance, of the NYC Twitter page’s nearly 7,000 followers surely there are more people whose tweets Babycakes could benefit from following than just 119. The variety of tweets is pretty good, with plenty of engagement and some RTing. But many of the tweets look too much alike, as they are little more than lists of cupcake flavors, particularly on the LA page. One type of tweet Babycakes should definitely add are links to their new blog posts.
Facebook — Babycakes has two Facebook pages, though this is the one they link to on their site. More than 5,000 people “like” it and a number of people post to the wall on a regular basis. It would nice to see Babycakes engaging on the wall with their fans. This page is also missing location and contact information. The “Boxes” tab with “Discussions” can be deleted as there is nothing there and all the discussing is happening on the wall anyway. They could also use more photos, perhaps a picture for each baked item they sell, in all colors and varieties. And unless they plan on clearly designating a Facebook page for each location, I would disable the second page as having two pages is otherwise confusing.
Yelp — As all brick-and-mortar busineses should, Babycakes has a Yelp page. Two in fact, one for the NYC location and one for LA. Both are used quite frequently, though not by Babycakes. There are a number of glowing reviews, but the negative ones (at least most recently) seem to outweigh the good. Good or bad, responding to reviews is an excellent opportunity for businesses to strengthen relationships with customers — not only with the person they are addressing directly, but also with anyone who sees that Babycakes cares enough to take the time to give a quick “thank you” or to address a negative comment, even if it is only to say something like, “We always strive for improvement and appreciate your thoughts.”
Flickr and YouTube — My research did not turn up a Flickr or YouTube page for Babycakes. Each would present an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the inherent SEO benefits. For instance, if someone is looking for a vegan red velvet cupcake recipe, perhaps Babycakes’ image of said cupcake on Flickr would turn up in the search results, presenting an opportunity for people to learn about Babycakes and click through to the website if they like.
As for YouTube, Babycakes founder Erin McKenna seems a personable type who does an excellent job of being the fun, friendly face and voice of the organization. There is tremendous potential for her to create what could be an impressive series of on-camera cooking demos, for example, that would be ideal for a YouTube Babycakes Channel.
If you’d like to try Babycakes but do not live in the LA or NYC areas, do not despair my vegan (or curious non-vegan) friend. Babycakes delivers anywhere in the country via Federal Express.
And this just in today from Babycakes’ blog. Soon I won’t have to fight the traffic to get to Babycakes downtown, as they’re looking to expand close by, in West Hollywood!
Special thanks to Antoanet for letting me share a couple of her pictures here. You can follow her on Twitter @ChicaVegan.
Meredith Simonds, Social Media Reviewer, Blogger and Consultant
The social media suggestions in this post are general and brief. To see what a comprehensive review entails, please see my Social Media Action Plans.