LAS VEGAS — The power of social media and influencer marketing is not one to be underestimated as the bakers behind the International Baking Industry Exhibition’s (IBIE) influencer program have proven. In addition to attending the Baking Expo, this select group of international bakers were specifically chosen to create their own IBIE-related original content, bringing a century-old Expo into the modern day.

But before there were bakers well-versed in the realm of social media, there were bakers like Duff Goldman, renowned pastry chef and owner of Baltimore-based Charm City Cakes. He represents a generation of bakers who brought their expertise to the masses through the power of personality.

Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, a reality television series that featured Goldman and his bakery employees, provided viewers with an inside look at the creation of baked goods, from complex orders to day-to-day operations with a bit of fun mixed in. Social media has blown the doors wide open for bakers big and small to do the same online.

In the advent of digital communication platforms available at the touch of a screen, influential figures like Goldman have adapted and maintained their position as industry leaders by using these tools to their advantage. With the emergence of social media touching all kinds of industries, bakers can find opportunities to connect with consumers and one another as content creators and influencers.


How bakers create niches for themselves with everything from photorealistic cakes and cronuts to vending machine-dispensed cupcakes provides a unique viewpoint into the future.

“It’s a cool thing that people are coming up with, and it’s like, ‘Let’s see what’s going to be around next year,’” Goldman said.

The world of influencer marketing is vast and flourishing as social media maintains a preeminent digital presence. Whether it be on the viral video app TikTok, photo-forward Instagram or any other platforms, social media has the power to connect people from all over to relish in similar interests, hobbies and passions — including the baking industry.

Matthew James Duffy, a Toronto-based chef, baking professor and self-proclaimed bread fanatic, is among the select influencers partnering with the Expo as part of its influencer program. More commonly known to his 300,000 followers as Sourdough Duffy, his primary platforms are TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, which provide Duffy with different insights and opportunities.


“I have currently made TikTok my primary focus as I think it’s the best way to see organic growth and reach,” Duffy said. “It’s also a little bit more fun and less curated than Instagram.”

Combining personal content and behind-the-scenes footage of his unique bakes from his sourdough micro­bakery, Duffy has found a way to balance craft with content curation. With videos that have garnered more than 3 million views on TikTok alone, his creations — which include unique flavor varieties and inclusions such as chocolate, buckwheat and more — give his viewers a new perspective on baking and sourdough in particular, which became home baking’s superstar during the pandemic.

Goldman, who has been in the industry since the ’80s and was a pioneer in the digital documentation of bakery life, noted a shift in how thought leadership and trends are communicated. While the comment section of social media posts certainly provides feedback, it’s a baker’s own instincts and interests that drive authentic trends.

“You’ve got to do things that make you excited and not necessarily things that you’ve already seen a million times,” Goldman said. “I think it’s cool to make stuff that you’re like, ‘Oh my god, this is delicious.’ And when you get to share that with people, and they’re like, ‘Oh man, this is really cool, I’ve never seen this before,’ I think that’s it.”


There are plenty of consumer trends online, from mirror-glaze cakes to sprinkle-filled layer cakes, but bakers like Goldman and Duffy hone their trade and content around the kinds of baked goods that interest them.

“I really don’t pay much attention to consumer trends,” Duffy said. “I’m in a fortunate position that my baking is shared with a small group of friends and family, and I can just bake whatever I want, when I want.”

This story has been adapted from the August | Q3 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.