What is the definition of a “Foodie”? Urban Dictionary defines it as “a person who enjoys eating food, unlike everyone else, who hates food, thinks it's disgusting, and would never consider eating it,” which to one extent makes sense but to another doesn’t. Really? Who hates food?
We got into the food influencer world around 2013, before the term “foodie influencer” existed. It’s safe to say we have not had an empty inbox since. Around that time, social media was just beginning to take off, and we created the food Instagram “The Miami Menu” because we didn’t know what to do with the 6,549 food pictures on our phones. We chose to share it with the world because everyone loves a picture of food (and we couldn't handle the "Storage Almost Full" notification anymore).
Influencer marketing has continued to grow as an industry over the last few years. According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2019 Influencer Marketing Report, it was a $1.7 billion industry in 2016, increasing to $3 billion in 2017. Growth continued to $4.6 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue its upward trajectory this year to potentially become a $6.5 billion industry. While influencer marketing has grown exponentially throughout the years, we've managed to stick to our tactics. We make sure to keep The Miami Menu as an enjoyable pastime rather than something to stress about. We hope to provide comfort to our followers, bring them together and continue to inspire them to unlock new experiences as a result of our content.
It took us a while to get into the grip of things (prime example above) and understand exactly what our followers wanted to see. Would a picture of a burger do as well as a picture of cheesy fries? Six years later, we still don’t have the exact answer to that. However we do have 6 tips we’ve learned throughout our successes and failures to get your Instagram and blog to that next level:
When you first start your food blog, growth is going to be extremely slow, but you can’t be discouraged. When we first started The Miami Menu, our Instagram posts would average around 25 likes (10 of them coming from family, 10 coming from friends, and 5 coming from a #likeforlike hashtag). There were days we didn’t gain one follower, but we kept at it because we saw the power of social media and loved what we were building. Momentum is going to be slow at first but as you grow, momentum will grow with you. There is no right amount of times you should post a day, just make sure to continually listen, test and adjust your posting strategy. Keep posting everyday, keep engaging everyday, and one day you’ll look back at this time in your life and think “I remember my first media dine”.
Good Content & Lighting
One of the most important ways to grasp the attention of your audience is to give them eye-catching content. When we first started out, we always had plans to save a couple thousand dollars to purchase a sick camera like the Canon 5D Mark IV. As we started studying the art of food photography, we came to realize that the camera is only about 50% of the shot (we still use the IPhone to this day). The other 50% compromises of great lighting and angles. We always try to schedule our media dines and shoots during the day to get the most of natural lighting. If we can’t manage to shoot during the day, we use a Portable LED Light, which works wonders at night and in dim settings (see picture below).
Networking & Relationships
In any industry, it is extremely important to network. Not only to meet people but to gain knowledge on social media trends as well as building trust with other influencers. It is an important part for growth where other people share their success and mistakes. We’ve made some great relationships from networking and love sharing our stories with other food bloggers. Most of the time, we introduce ourselves as "The Miami Menu". It's fun to have a network of people who you can relate to and experience fun dinners and events with.
Posting original content is crucial to keeping your audience loyal to your blog/Instagram. If you are posting other people's content, your followers will start following them and forget about you. When we started, we were lucky enough to have the 6,549 pictures of food already on our phones, so we didn’t really have to re-post other content. If you are just getting started and don’t have many quality pictures to post, reach out to your close friends & family and ask them to send you any food pictures they have. You’ll be surprised how these days, everyone is guilty of taking out their phones to capture that insta-worthy cheese pull.
Engagement, Engagement, Engagement!
We learned that what you put in is what you get out. With that being said, it is extremely important to engage with your followers to learn what it is they want to see and how you can improve. Instagram engagement is not only just comments and likes, it includes engaging with your followers on stories, through the brand hashtag and IGTV. By engaging, you create relationships, trust and credibility with your followers. Another important form of engagement is with other influencers. We never see other influencers as competition and instead always try and find ways to support one another.
It took us a while to understand the true power of hashtags and how they affect Instagram posts. For those of you who are not familiar with them, hashtags are keywords that pull out only the content labeled with the specific tag. This makes it easier for followers to find pictures they are interested in seeing. When you click on or search a certain hashtag, it automatically shows you all the posts that are live with that hashtag. The higher the number, the more people use it so there is a high relevancy and a large audience using that tag. When figuring out the right hashtags for your page, it is important to consider who your target audience is and what hashtags they may be searching. We recommend using less generic hashtags if you don’t have a large following because you are less likely to be seen on a page with millions of users like #food. Try to make the hashtags more specific to increase your chances of maximizing your reach. Some of the hashtags we use are: #themiamimenu #miamieats #miamilife #foodblogger and hashtags that align with the picture we are posting. Test out different hashtags relevant to your blog to determine which hashtags provide you with the most #impressions.