How to Build a Social Brand: The Phoenixville Foodie
Phone eats first, meaning to film food or a meal before a person begins eating. According to Urban Dictionary, this modern phrase represents the observation of foodies in their natural habitat.
It’s become second nature to snap a picture of an elegant meal at a restaurant or coordinate a mini photoshoot at a popular travel spot. Social media is a way for people to share their experiences with the world. Love it, or hate it, we ingrain our online brands as a form of art — everyone’s style is unique to who they are.
We live in a world where influencers are now considered a form of social hierarchy, or even a profession. So what is an influencer? A person who is able to generate interest in something (such as a consumer product) by posting about it on social media.
Influencers range from passion projects to modeling, and everything in between. Yet, people often wonder how the person they are following built their audience. I collaborated with a local influencer, Ali Kauffman, running the handle @phoenixvillefoodie to offer insights into building an online brand.
Behind the Handle
I’m Ali K! I’m a Phoenixville, PA, resident, mom, wife, marketing professional, and creative. I started to document my meals on Instagram when I lived and rented in Conshohocken, PA. You see, I used to be a really picky eater, but when my now-husband and I moved to Conshohocken, there was an old garden in our yard where we decided to plant some vegetables. This led me to find new recipes to use the vegetables and ultimately expand my palate. So I started to document my home-cooked meals, meals eaten out, and general things I found interesting in Conshohocken. Fast forward about two years to 2017, my husband and I moved to Phoenixville, and I decided to evolve and dedicate my account to Phoenixville’s culinary scene — both in town and the meals made in my house. I still garden and enjoy cooking with fresh, local produce!
Building a Following
The Phoenixville Foodie started in 2017 when we bought a house in Phoenixville. Building a follower base is a long game. Some tips I find useful are:
1. Posting high-quality, original photos, and videos.
2. Authentically engaging with your followers
3. Reposting content that is relevant to your followers
4. Providing a value (what do your followers gain from following your account as opposed to someone else’s?)
5. Following and engaging with other local businesses/accounts.
If you JUST started your account and want to get some eyes on it. Browse the local hashtags (like #Phoenixville) and start engaging with content or accounts you find on those hashtags. Make sure it’s not spam and your comments or follows are authentic. You can also try partnering with another account for a give-away. These are great ways to bring attention and followers to your account.
That said, authenticity is best. It’s easy to buy followers, but it’s an empty way to fill your follower account and your content will be de-prioritized by the platform and you’ll have terrible engagement. If you are passionate and consistent with your account, that will resonate with your followers and you’ll start to see a slow, but steady, follower gain.
As Ali mentioned, creating a following is an investment in yourself. To build a meaningful audience you need to stay consistent with posting, engaging, and delivering interesting content. I asked a couple of questions about her style and difficulties around maintaining a following.
Do you have a style that you take to approach your posts?
I try to use natural lighting for my photos when I can to avoid yellow lighting or glares. I also try to pose my food from the POV of the viewer, as if you’re about to dive in and eat it. Lastly, I avoid having people featured in my photos. Strangers don’t tend to like being in photos and people are following me for the drool-worthy food shots!
What’s the most difficult part about running an influencer account?
I would say keeping up with capturing and posting interesting content can be a challenge. Especially when life gets busy, or during a global pandemic when going out to eat was at a standstill last year. Also, answering follower questions can be a time commitment. Sometimes posting an Instagram story will elicit a lot of questions that I can’t always answer, but I try to respond to everyone regardless. I remind myself that this is a hobby for me and try not to put too much pressure on myself if I’m ever not feeling motivated.
Goals and Expectations
When starting an account, focus on real engagement. It’s easier to see a dollar sign and the potential side money you can make from running a popular page. The Phoenixville Foodie does NOT get paid to post her meals. Her love of local cuisine is a hobby, and she uses her passion to support the small businesses she visits.
Her handle just surpassed 5,000 followers. With an audience that size, she sees around 10,000 impressions for a sneak peek and roughly 3,000 for her home-cooked meals.
Starting small is the way to go. Keeping your goals in line with your ability to post thought-provoking content is what keeps people coming back.
Bringing content to your audience may come with some perks. For instance, Ali knows the scoop on new restaurants coming to the area.
Whatever you decide your niche will be, make sure you make genuine connections and stay motivated.
If you want to connect with the Phoenixville Foodie on instagram, search for @phoenixvillefoodie. For everything else, email her at email@example.com
In addition, check out my blog “The Best Things To Do in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania“