In episode 429, Megan chats to Samantha Erb about how she grew her Instagram account to more than 82K followers mainly using reels.
We cover information about the reasons why you want to build an Instagram community, what videos should you share, the many ways you can repurpose your content to work smarter, not harder and what you should know about using hashtags (and you should be using them).
Write Blog Posts that Rank on Google’s 1st Page
RankIQ is an AI-powered SEO tool built just for bloggers. It tells you what to put inside your post and title, so you can write perfectly optimized content in half the time. RankIQ contains a hand-picked library with the lowest competition, high traffic keywords for every niche.
Bio Sam is the busy woman behind Everyday Family Cooking for the last 4 years. She began the blog in the summer of 2019 and worked her way through COVID growing the blog while being a mom to two small kids at home. Since then, Sam has grown the site tremendously along with my Instagram account to 82.5K mainly using reels.
- (Update post interview) –>> Success with Reels came when honing in on lower hashtags. Stay around the 5K to 50K range with just a few hashtags between 100K and 1M or higher.
- The key is to use the most accurate hashtags to create the most engagement. Once you start getting your engagement up, Instagram will start showing your posts to more people – as long as you are consistent.
- Focus on one social platform and SEO at a time.
- Consistency is key – the algorithm slows down when you stop posting consistently.
- You can gain email subscribers through IG.
- Gain community and engage with them to build die-hard fans.
- IG is a great place to be found for sponsorships.
- Length of reels is dependent on your audience – see what they engage with.
- Start with your most popular content.
- Use your hero shots or videos with the hero shot.
- Repurpose video multiple times in multiple ways from other platforms too.
- Use trending sounds from IG instead of your own video if you aren’t intentionally speaking.
- Do round-ups of similar-style recipes for your audience to check out (i.e. fruit recipes).
- Descriptions should be worth reading – add a tip or include more of the recipe in the description.
Book recommendations: Profit First and Get Rich Lucky Bitch (and really anything by Denise Duffield-Thomas on Audible)
Click for full script.
EBT429 – Samantha Erb
Intro: Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. If you are interested in growing a solid community of fans and in turn getting leverage on all of the amazing content that you create and making the most of all of that, consider growing your Instagram account to accomplish these goals. Samantha Erb joins me in this episode. She is a blogger at Everyday Family Cooking, and she talks about how she grew her Instagram account from 6,000 people to 25,000 followers in 30 days. In the following year, how that went from 25k to 80k. She talks through her entire strategy, using reels to grow her account and the positive benefits that have come to her business because of it. There are so many details in this episode from sound, audio, what you should use to edit, hashtags, which ones to aim for, how many, the importance of descriptions, what to put in your description, and so many other details. This is episode number 429 sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player, go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Samantha Erb is the busy woman behind Everyday Family Cooking. She has been blogging for the last four years. She began the blog in the summer of 2019 and worked her way through COVID, growing the blog while being a mom to two small kids at home.
Since then, Sam has grown the site tremendously along with her Instagram account to 83,000 followers, mainly using Reels. Hello, Samantha. How are you? I’m so excited to have you on Eat Blog Talk. How are you doing today?
Samantha Erb: Good. I’m enjoying this warmer weather today.
Megan Porta: Yay! Same! I am so thoroughly enjoying summer. It has been amazing. Super excited to chat about Instagram today. I know that you’ve found some success recently using Reels, but before we get into that topic, we would love to know if you have a fun fact to share.
Samantha Erb: Yeah, so my fun fact is I actually won a trip to Amelia Island, Florida. My now husband ended up proposing to me on that trip.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. So how long ago was this?
Samantha Erb: This was almost nine years ago, or I think it was almost 10 years ago now. We ended up doing it. It came with a golf part that you can go ahead and golf. So we had this beautiful Oceanside golf course. I am not a golfer. He’s a golfer. So I would try to hit the ball and just pick up the ball and sit down when I couldn’t hit it while everybody’s looking at me, because they’ve paid so much money to be on this golf course. Here I am looking like I have no idea what I’m doing.
Megan Porta: That’s hilarious. I would be right with you. I am not a golfer and I would have to totally pretend as well. So that’s funny. Did you have any idea that he was going to propose on that trip? Were you totally surprised?
Samantha Erb: We were together for about four or five years. So you have an idea and it’s a good setting. I just didn’t know when it would happen. Then it got to be toward the end and I was starting to think it wouldn’t, but it did.
Megan Porta: Yay! The rest is history, right?
Samantha Erb: Yes.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Let’s talk about Instagram and Reels. But first, we would love to hear just your background, your blogging journey a little bit. Tell us your story, how and when you got into blogging.
Samantha Erb: So I actually started as a parenting blogger. I’d been a stay at home mom for about a year and I needed something for me. I was still on the newish part of parenting still. I had a two year old at the time and was trying to get pregnant with my now four year old. So I started this parenting site and I had no idea what I was doing. So I just wrote all this stuff down. Food has always been a passion of mine. So I started doing recipes there. That was what really took off on Pinterest and other places. So I realized that I needed to do a full circle and actually focus on something I was passionate and loved doing. So in summer of 2019, I started my recipe website and it’s been history from there. But it’s been a really nice change to be able to do that part time, being a stay at home mom still to my two kids, but then also being able to focus on my own business and my own thing to call my own.
Megan Porta: Amazing. So it’s a fairly newish blog. I know you’ve found some pretty big success within your niche, air fryer cooking. But how did you get into Instagram? Did you start your account right away? How did that go or have you just dug into it more recently?
Samantha Erb: I didn’t start it right away because one thing I’ve learned from my first site is that you need to focus on one social media aspect at a time. So my first thing was SEO, and then I was focusing on Pinterest. Once I got all of that down, then it went to Instagram just because I use Instagram as a user. So it was something that I wanted to take on next. So it wasn’t until probably around late 2019, maybe even in 2020, that I actually started looking at it. At that point, it was just, here’s a picture of the recipe. I was just posting into it and had no idea what I was doing. I was stuck at about 3,000 followers for a pretty long time, just because I wasn’t actually trying any strategy. I was just throwing things at a wall and seeing if they stuck.
Megan Porta: Okay. So recently you decided you were just going to explore reels and see how those did and they’ve taken off for you, correct?
Samantha Erb: They have, yes.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Okay, so tell us when you decided to dig into reels and how that’s gone.
Samantha Erb: Yeah. So it was around, I want to say early 2022, maybe even late 2021. One of my blogging friends mentioned she was trying reels and I saw them and I was like, I could do that. So I thought in my head, okay, I’m going to try one reel a day for 30 days and just see what happens. From that time I grew from, I think I was at maybe 6,000 followers at the time. I grew from 6,000 to 25,000 in 30 days. So I was like, okay, this is clearly working and I’m gaining a following and I need to continue doing reels to keep growing. So I kept doing that and I ended up moving from that 25,000 up to about 80,000 within the next year doing hit or miss reels. Because If you’re consistent, it works, but if you’re not consistent, then it slows down.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, Sam, that is amazing. So from 6K to 25K in 30 days, and then up to 80K in another year. That is so incredible. So I know you have a few little tips and strategies, but before we get into that, I would love to ask you. What do you think are some reasons why food bloggers should be focusing on Instagram? Because I know there’s a lot of commotion out there I don’t really know why I’m doing this. I don’t get a ton of traffic, et cetera. So what are your thoughts about that?
Samantha Erb: That is always a pain point of mine that, in all honesty, Instagram doesn’t relate to clicks. So you just have to accept that and say, okay, this is not the reason I’m posting to Instagram to grow my blog traffic. It can be to get a couple people, maybe a day to click over and become your email subscribers. Then you have them going from different avenues coming to your website that you don’t realize that they originally came from Instagram. But the main reason that it’s good to be on Instagram and great to be doing these reels, is you’re going to gain that community and engage with your readers to be able to just do different things and get them more involved. Be able to do sponsorships if you want to, because video is huge for sponsorships. So is Instagram. We can look at people like Kylie Jenner, who has how many followers and how much she gets per Instagram post. Your businesses and just all of the food products, they’re all looking on Instagram and these social media platforms to find people to go ahead and promote their products. They’re not looking at what websites rank higher on Google. They want that social media and the interaction because those are the people that become your diehard fans.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s a great point. It’s hard to set the numbers aside sometimes, I think. The traffic isn’t there before my eyes like you are getting this number of people coming to you from Instagram. So it’s really easy to just dismiss Instagram, but you mentioned a few really key points. So sponsorships, the leverage you get from just having a community. Obviously the higher the number of followers, the more leverage you’re going to have, the more influence you’re going to have. So something to keep in mind if you’re listening and you’re not on the Instagram train. Because I know a lot of people are like, Oh, I’m so tired of Instagram. It’s just a trend right now. But hopefully this conversation will spark something in people. So Reels, back to Reels, do you have specific tips for getting into this, things we should keep in mind as we get started?
Samantha Erb: So the first thing I would look at is what your most viral worthy content is going to be and something that usually takes to your readers and has a way of getting that gorgeous, not just photography, but that gorgeous video. Ooey gooey cheese pull and things like that. Something that’s going to grab their attention. Those are the ones that you’re going to want to focus on first when you’re getting into it. Also if you have videos already made for different things, whether or not you added it to your website on YouTube or any other avenue, those videos can be reused multiple times in different ways to create these reels. You don’t have to look at it and say, okay I’m going to try this for 30 days. Now I need to make 30 videos. If you have 15 videos, you can use those. Even in those 15 videos, you can create 25 to 30 different reels using them.
Megan Porta: Because how many seconds do you recommend a successful reel being? Do you have a range? \
Samantha Erb: Yeah. So my range that I like to do and you want to give variation and see what sticks with your specific audience because everybody’s audience is different. Mine like quick and easy meals. So they want quick and easy. Reels to look at. So my reels end up being between 3 and 10 seconds, but then occasionally I do have those longer ones that show the full process of the recipe and those end up being somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds. But you have to keep them engaged and keep them wanting to watch it. So if you have clips of you putting flour in that take 5 seconds, you’ve lost your viewer and they don’t want to watch you. Flour needs to be put in within a split second and then move on to the next thing to keep their attention.
Megan Porta: Which are more popular for you I’m assuming the shorter three to ten second videos?
Samantha Erb: Yeah so I find that maybe three to six or seven seconds are the higher ones and that’s mainly because Instagram uses their algorithm and that changes constantly but one thing I’ve noticed is what has stayed the same is the length that your viewer is watching the reel. So if it takes them five or six seconds to even just read your description or process what’s going on and they want to see it again, Instagram looks at that and says, Ooh, this person watched it two times, so they must really like it. Or They were on this for six seconds and the average view time is the full reel. So we want to push this to more people so that more people can see it.
Megan Porta: Okay. I liked your point about if you have an existing video, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Go back and pull out those hero shots or the gooey cheese pull or the creative things that you might not think you can recycle, but you can. So you probably are sitting on content that you can already upload to Instagram.
Samantha Erb: Just because it’s in a horizontal landscape doesn’t mean you can’t shift it to vertical, the way that reels are. It’s very easy and different types of programs. I use something that I have on my computer, but you can just go ahead and change the format or depending on the video, if you can just crop it to vertical. It all works. You just use the same content that you already have.
Megan Porta: Yes. Repurpose, right? Repurposing is your friend. Okay. So how do you pick sounds? I know that Instagram really likes for you to use their audio, correct?
Samantha Erb: Yes, so I don’t even know if I ever put my own audio on there just because one of the main reasons is if you saw my audio on different things, it’d be my kids screaming in the background. So the audio that Instagram uses is perfect to use. You never have to worry about, oh my gosh, my kids were screaming while I was making this recipe or while I’m in my office trying to film a little video of myself to get my face on the camera. So I go ahead and use the trending sounds on there. So when you go into Instagram, into the reel section, you can see what is a trending sound by looking on the bottom left. It’ll have a little arrow that’s pointing upward to show that it’s a trending sound that it is popular to use right now and it’s on the up and coming sounds. Those are the ones that I like to use because you’ll get more viewers to that reel because people are using that sound.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So I do this too. I’ll flip through and just see if anything makes sense. Oh, that aligns. What about the reels that are like, choose this sound. This new audio is going to be trending. I don’t know what that’s all about.
Samantha Erb: I see that constantly. That’s obviously their way to gain viewers and a way to gain followers on that platform. It’s probably working for them, so they keep doing it. But like you were saying, listen to the audio and think in your head, how can I use this? Do I have a video? Does it sound like something that my readers would like that I would like and that would connect with a video that I have? If it doesn’t, you don’t want to choose that one. But if it does, that’s when you say, okay, what can I do to put my own spin on this? So a lot of the ones that used to be going about, I don’t know, about six months or so are the ones where you’re standing in front of the camera and you’re pointing to each of the little key points and those work well, as long as you have something beneficial to give your readers care about. Because if you’re just doing it to give points and that’s not what they’re interested in, the reel is not going to do well.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I see those exact styles you’re talking about. I’m like, that didn’t make sense. That probably shouldn’t have been done in that format.
Samantha Erb: Exactly.
Megan Porta: Okay, so sound is really important. Then you touched on this a little bit, just editing your video. Whether or not you have to change formats or you’re just wanting to edit in general. What do you use for editing and what do you recommend?
Samantha Erb: Whatever you have access to. I had a black Friday deal a couple of years ago that gained access to filmora. I’m able to go ahead and edit things from landscape or horizontal to vertical and portrait mode. Also what I like to do is to use that to edit quicker cuts. So if you’re doing a longer video of you making things, if it’s hands and pans or it’s actually you, the video is probably about two minutes long, so you don’t want to just go ahead and speed it up because then everybody doesn’t know what you’re doing. You actually do little segments of cuts to say, okay, I’m going to put this in the oven and it just needs to be a split second of that. They want to see when the cookie’s opening up to see the marshmallow oozing out. Just make sure that you’re getting those faster, quicker cuts and include the parts that the people are really going to look at and be like, Ooh, I want to make that. But it’s also important to make sure that you mix it up. So you have those longer reels and you have shorter reels to see what is working for your audience. Because I have seen that if you have something that is extensive, like an extensive recipe that takes more time, and that’s what your audience likes, they might have that extra time to watch a 45 second reel to see how to do it. Because a 15 to 25 second reel is just you throwing everything in and you can’t follow it. So you want to make sure that your readers and your viewers can follow it as well.
Megan Porta: You suggest sprinkling in different times of your length of time just to see what resonates with your people and then building a strategy from there?
Samantha Erb: Yes. One thing I love to do as well is, one reel doesn’t have to be one recipe. So if you have, say, a whole bunch of cookie recipes or a whole bunch of strawberry recipes, you can throw together different types of clips from those to make just seven seconds or even four seconds. Each second is each cookie of doing different things. That’ll really gain their attention too, to know that, okay, I like strawberries. I have strawberries. This person clearly has a lot of strawberry recipes. I want those.
Megan Porta: It’s like a roundup style reel.
Samantha Erb: Exactly.
Megan Porta: Then I’ve noticed this too, some templates offered as I’m scrolling through trying to find my audio. What do you think of those?
Samantha Erb: I have used those in the past, and they’re hit and miss, that you’ll be on the sound and you can use it or you can’t use it. Now I’ve noticed exactly how and when that comes if the person edits it in Instagram. So if I’m doing one of those roundup style reels, I select different videos that are on my iPad to include in it. I edit it right in Instagram because it only takes about two minutes to edit them together. You’re only using that one style reel one time. So you might as well do it right in there. So that’s when it shows it as a template when somebody else has edited it inside Instagram. Then it just will include what their cuts ended up being. If you like where the cuts are, you can definitely use that. Otherwise, a lot of the time I’ll just make it to be exactly the certain parts of the video that I want and then however long it is. Because people aren’t really looking at did this go with the sound unless it’s like a before, after. Those obviously need to go with it, but if it’s something that’s just more of a song that’s a little bit longer, you don’t need to do those cuts exactly the way that they had them.
Sponsor: Hello, my favorite people. Let’s chat quick about some ways Eat Blog Talk can help you ditch the overwhelm, manage your time, feel connected, and prioritize that seemingly never ending stream of tasks, platforms, and algorithm changes we’re faced with.
The Eat Blog Talk Mastermind program is our signature offering and the best investment you will make in your blogging business. This is a transformative 12 month experience that will help you achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible. Join the waitlist for 2024 groups. Go to eatblogtalk.com/mastermind to get in on that.
If the mastermind program is on your dream board, but you aren’t quite ready to make that investment in your business yet, the next perfect step for you might be the Eat Blog Talk Mini minds. This six month program is designed to help you achieve your goals and overcome any obstacles that may be holding you back so you can experience the freedoms you’re yearning for. Join the waitlist for groups starting in Q4 of 2023 at Eatblogtalk.com/miniminds.
If you are ready to learn, grow and build relationships in person, join me and a handful of your fellow food bloggers at an upcoming Eat Blog Talk retreat. This is a great opportunity to convene in an intimate setting to learn, collaborate and connect. These retreats involve mastermind style peer to peer collaboration and are incredibly powerful and fun experiences. Go to EatBlogTalk.com/retreat.
To get information about all EatBlogTalk services, go to EatBlogTalk.com /services, EatBlogTalk.com/services. Now back to the episode.
Megan Porta: Then you mentioned Filmora. Do you know of any other, outside of Instagram, editing tools that are either free or affordable?
Samantha Erb: I do not. There might be something on iPhones that do it or any type of phones that might, but if you just search up video editing, usually some sort of app.
Megan Porta: If you’re a food blogger, you probably dabbled in video editing at some point, so you probably have something going. I was just curious if you had some top of mind. No worries though. Okay. Anything else about editing?
Samantha Erb: For editing, my main thing for editing would be just get into the food, show the readers what they want to see and don’t put the boring stuff there. You want your first one or two seconds to be that eye grabbing visual. Because on Instagram, you’re scrolling because you’re still used to seeing pictures. So you see a picture and you scroll, just think of it as the person seeing that picture, but it’s a split second and they’re going to keep scrolling. So you need to grab their attention in that split second. If it’s something that they don’t like, something that is just you putting something into a bowl, it’s not going to grab their attention. You need to show them exactly what to expect in that reel and give them the best part of it for at least that first few seconds so it grabs their attention and keeps them there.
Megan Porta: One to two seconds is so short. I feel like it’s really hard to do that. It’s something you just have to get into the groove with, right?
Samantha Erb: Yeah. Honestly, if you go through your videos, you can find one or two seconds to say, okay, this is the final shot and that main picture that you have on your actual recipe posts. This is the one that I’m going to promote because you can see the cheese pull. You can see all the ooey gooey over the top chocolate flowing out ,that type of stuff. But you want that just for the video to think of it as this is the part of the video that’s going to be the best part that I need to make sure that it’s first on there.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I had heard maybe last week or the week before that Instagram was going to start transitioning back from Reels to more static images. Have you heard that? Or have you seen that?
Samantha Erb: I have heard that, but honestly, I haven’t seen it.
Megan Porta: Talk. They were talking and not acting.
Samantha Erb: Yeah. I think that a lot of people still use Reels. A lot of Instagram. Bloggers like us, we were using reels because a lot of people were on those bonus ones that they gave you a check every month for however many views that you had on them. That’s gone. So I think a lot of people. Basically I looked at it and said, Hey, I’m not getting anything from this and I used to get something from it, so I’m not going to do it anymore. But there is still a benefit to doing it. And I’m still seeing a lot of people do just as well. The accounts that are doing better on Instagram are still the ones that are doing reels.
Megan Porta: Do you sprinkle in still images and or carousels?
Samantha Erb: So I still do one static image a day and then I do reels on top of that.
Megan Porta: Okay. So you do one static image a day and then one reel a day?
Samantha Erb: The goal is one reel a day, but that is something that sometimes falls through the wayside there that it doesn’t get done every day. But I have found when I am consistent with reels, I am still seeing the most growth on the account and the most engagement on the account, is when those are consistent.
Megan Porta: Okay, awesome. Now, let’s talk about descriptions. I never know if I should just be really wordy and talk about the recipe or if I should be really succinct. What are your thoughts on descriptions?
Samantha Erb: My first thought is that it is completely overthinking, so you don’t have to think too much into it. What I like to do is I like to say what the recipe is right from the start, or if it’s something that they’re not sure what it is. So I posted a chicken fried steak and I said, do you know what this amazing recipe is called and then I would say, Hey, it’s chicken fried steak, when it’s a little bit lower so it’s not what they first see and they have to do more. But the main points that you want to get in your descriptions is you want them to actually be worth reading. I like to include a tip in there. I have been exploring just including the full recipe in there to get more shares because if people are sharing it, Instagram says, Ooh, this is good, or it’s been saved a lot. So I’m going to push it to more people because more people are viewing it. Then in the long run, you’ll get more views on your reels and your posts in general. I’ve honestly said the most random things in my reels that people will catch it and be like, Did you really say that? Okay. That’s really funny. I posted one the other day that it had a sound from Rio in there and I would never have known that it was from Rio, but we had just watched it with the kids a couple days before. I literally wrote in the description that I had to use this Rio because it was from Rio and we just watched it and it was too funny to pass up. Those are the things I’ll just throw in there. Or on Mother’s Day, I think I wrote, here’s a great dessert recipe and I am putting this in here because I hope my husband buys me pizza tonight, because I really want pizza. It got people to engage and read it and say, Hey, this person actually makes these funny or interesting comments that are just out of nowhere that they want to keep reading it and it keeps that person on that reel a lot longer. It in turn tells Instagram, okay, people are on this longer. They’re engaging with it. They’re liking it. We need to give this to more people to make it a bigger reel.
Megan Porta: Interesting. I love that you’re finding that people are actually reading the little bits that you throw in that maybe don’t necessarily have anything to do with the recipe. So length really doesn’t matter, but longer might be better because people will engage longer?
Samantha Erb: Yeah. So if you’re just saying, here’s my strawberry cheesecake cookies, they’re going to be like, that’s great. Then watch the reel and leave. But if you say, these are my strawberry cheesecake cookies, they’re made with cream cheese and fresh strawberries for a perfect summer dessert. Then you say, here’s my tip. Give them a nice tip about what to do with the recipe to make it turn out even better. OR an idea, I think I did one with marshmallow cookies earlier that I was like, my tip is actually just stick some ice cream in between them and make a s’mores ice cream sandwich for the summer. Those types of things will get people to read more, especially if you call out that it’s a tip that once they get to that part, they’re like, okay, there’s a tip. I want to read what this tip is because it could be very helpful.
Megan Porta: Ah, I love that. I never think to include tips. Then do you put those at the end or do you have a format for that?
Samantha Erb: I put an intro of what the recipe is at first and then I put a tip. Usually it’s either in the middle or toward the end, but then the hashtags are always at the very end.
Megan Porta: Hashtags. Okay. Tell us about hashtags. What are your thoughts on those?
Samantha Erb: I love hashtags. It’s what’s going to help grow your account if you don’t have an audience and even if you do have an audience. So if you have an audience of 15 people, or say just a couple hundred people on Instagram, how are you going to get your reels and other posts to other people? It’s by those hashtags, people follow the hashtag, they click into them to see what exactly are there, Instagram recommends them. So those are the things that are really going to help you. One thing I have seen people mention with hashtags is that they’ll only use five different hashtags and Instagram likes that. That might be great for the people with millions and millions of followers because they can put those really big hashtags in there and Instagram loves them and they’ll always show them and the post will do great, but it doesn’t work so great with people that have a lower audience level and lower following on Instagram. Even with my following, I still do about 20 to 25 hashtags on there to be able to give the reader exactly what types of posts they are. That way you can go from there and say, okay, I’m going to include these niche hashtags, exactly what kinds of recipes they are. So in my case with air fryers, air fryer hashtags, if it’s a chicken recipe, some chicken hashtags, some dinner hashtags, some food hashtags in general, and then for reels, you’d want to do some real specific ones as well.
Megan Porta: What do you mean by real specific? So, having the word real in it or what do you mean by that?
Samantha Erb: If you search hashtag real, R E E L on Instagram, there’ll be like Reel videos, IG reels, food reels, food reel, and those types of hashtags that people will be looking at because that’s what they want. So your hashtags are basically trying to hit the exact audience. Think of them as SEO, but in hashtag format to say, I’m not going to put this as a keto recipe if it’s not geared toward the keto audience there. If it’s geared toward air fryer chicken, you want air fryer chicken dinner, things that are specific to that. If somebody’s searching for the word reels, Instagram reels, food reels, they’re looking for a food reel to watch. That’s the audience that you want to reach out to.
Megan Porta: All right. I learned something. I never hashtag with reel, so thank you, Sam. Then do you try to select a variety of numbers because I know sometimes I will type in a hashtag and I’m like, Oh my gosh, there’s 90 million people looking at that one. So I tend to shy away from those. But what are your thoughts?
Samantha Erb: I shy away from those as well. Occasionally I’ll do one with maybe one or 2 million. On the volume, but I actually like to stick around 100,000 to about 750,000. If they’re really specific, it’s okay to get ones that are around 15,000, 30,000, because you’re going to hit the audience that they really want. Think of it as a long tail keyword with those little ones. Then the larger ones are ones that you might not get to, but it might. So you want to include some larger ones, but it’s the middle ones that you really want to hone in on that a hundred K to 750,000 to sit in volume, to get to the audience that you want, but not be too big that you post it and that hashtag doesn’t do anything for you.
Megan Porta: What about the ones that are like 500 or 1,000 or 2,000?
Samantha Erb: If those are very specific to what you’re posting. So if you’re posting, go back to strawberry cheesecake cookies and that is 2,000, but your recipe is exactly strawberry cheesecake cookies, those are fine. Or if it’s something that is very niched down to what you’re providing. But if it’s something that’s more vague, but just doesn’t have a lot of views to it, it’s not going to be helpful and you probably should pick a different hashtag.
Megan Porta: Okay. Then is it still 30 that they offer in total?
Samantha Erb: I believe so. I usually stay within 20 to 25 because if you hit 30, and you accidentally do 31, the whole post just disappears, it’s just gone and it’s not saved anywhere. So I just try to stay away from that. So usually 20 to 25 is what I recommend. More around 20.
Megan Porta: Okay. Yeah. I didn’t know about the post exploding. Then do you have a set number of hashtags that you use consistently? So let’s say you’re doing airfryer all across the board, do you have airfryer hashtags that you copy and paste or do you do it new each time?
Samantha Erb: I used to do it each time, but now I’ve been using chat GPT to randomize the ones that I do typically use and then choose from there. But usually about half of them, if it’s an air fryer post, I’ll do half of them as air fryer and half of them as something different. Same for dessert. If it’s a dessert post, it’s maybe a fourth of it specific to the ingredients or something really niched down into that recipe. Then a fourth of it, just dessert. A fourth of it as food in general, and then a fourth is the reels.
Megan Porta: Okay. What are some of the magic ingredients that go into your most successful reels?
Samantha Erb: They’re always the niched ones. The fast ones and seasonal ones that just grab people’s attention that they didn’t know that they could make them. Then also things that have, say, cheese oozing out. The chocolate kind of being poured on something or just oozing out, if it’s a lava cake to see the chocolate inside of there. A recipe that’s completely over the top but looks insanely delicious, and just dripping of sauces. So if you’re making pulled pork, the barbecue drips out of it for a sandwich.
Megan Porta: Those are the ones I watch over and over. I’m like, why am I watching this five times? It’s usually those, like the chocolate dripping down the cake or even if it’s just enchilada sauce or something dripping into a bowl. For some reason, we like that. We like the drips and the cheesy oozing food.
Samantha Erb: We do. When you’re making videos, sometimes you’re like, okay I don’t want to have the barbecue dripping on it because it’s messy. When I pick it up, it’s messy. But people like reality and people like messy. So if you’re biting into it, and there’s barbecue going everywhere, it’s full of barbecue flavor. Whereas if you don’t have it oozing out, you can’t really see barbecue in a pulled pork sandwich a lot. So you want to know that those ingredients are there and that it just looks worth eating, even if it’s not necessarily how the recipe is when you make it, but the flavors are still there. You can just add a little bit more barbecue sauce in there to make sure it’s dripping and creates that Instagram worthy reel.
Megan Porta: Do you record on your phone for Instagram videos and reels?
Samantha Erb: I usually don’t, but occasionally I do. I posted one just the other day of going in and out of an air fryer just because I was making something I didn’t have a video for and didn’t have time to do the full video because I was making dinner. So I’ll do those ones on my phone. Or if I’m doing videos of myself that I’m shooting directly for Instagram, just holding something or doing something like that, those will be on my phone. But otherwise, I’ll use either a camera or sometimes I will use the phone if it’s just what I have on me and my camera is dead.
Megan Porta: Right Okay, any other ingredients for a super successful real that you could think of?
Samantha Erb: The main thing to really make sure that you have a successful reel is not the reel itself, and this will go into something I talked about a little bit later, too, but It’s your consistency with it. Because if you only do say seven reels and I’m doing my reels all again right now, just to see how they’re doing and creating those and making sure that they get viral and just get more audience to them. But you want to make sure that you have consistency. So the universe is going to test you when you start doing them. That first post is going to do really well. Then the next post after that is going to be terrible. You just have to fight through with Instagram. This happens for everything I’ve noticed, that the universe is going to test you to say, are you actually really serious that you’re going to be doing this? Because I’m going to find a way to knock you down and you have to push through that. Once you get through it, now I see that, okay, you are serious about it. Instagram says, okay, we’re used to her posting a reel a day and it’s working really well. So we’ll push her stuff to more people.
Megan Porta: How long do you find that? Because yeah, that’s really frustrating to be in that period where you’re like, okay, I’m not getting anywhere. There’s no traction. How long do you find that most people have to wait for that?
Samantha Erb: I would say at least a couple of weeks. It’s even happened to me whenever I try to start working out again, I get sick as soon as I start to work out. I’m like I got sick. I can’t keep doing it. It’s the universe’s way of testing you to say, Hey, I know you’re not serious about it. I’m just going to get you sick and you’re done because I don’t want to deal with this anymore. But if after you’re done being sick and you’re saying, okay, I’m going to get back to this. Sometimes the universe is going to make you sick again because you have small children. But you have to fight through it. Then at that point, it knows that you are serious about it and that you want to continue with it. That’s when you start to see success. So it can take a couple of weeks. It could even take four or six weeks, depending on how small your account is and how fast you are to catch on to say, okay, this is what’s working for my audience. So I’m going to keep doing these types of reels instead of just trying to copy how other people are doing them, but that’s not necessarily what your audience wants.
Megan Porta: A couple weeks does not sound bad. I was thinking it would be longer because TikTok, maybe TikTok’s trial period, makes you commit longer. I tried TikTok on my podcast site for a long time. I didn’t do it daily, but I did it for a long time and literally never got traction. I just finally gave up. So a few weeks, that sounds amazing.
Samantha Erb: I love TikTok, but not as a food blogger. I know a lot of people do, but I downloaded it to start uploading videos, and now all I do is watch videos and get sucked in to all of these others. I’m on Swift TikTok right now, Taylor Swift TikTok. That’s all I watch on there. I’m just not interested. It’s really bad to say, but I’m not interested in the food blogging things on there. It’s not something that I like to watch for food. But I do like to go on Instagram and watch the reels for the food there and see people’s photographs there. So it’s also something that you’re more passionate about to say, okay I don’t really watch the food on Tik Tok. Should I really be posting food if it’s not something that even I’m interested in? Whereas Instagram, if you’re interested in actually using it as a user for food and different things that correlate with your job, then it’s a little bit easier to get into and understand what’s working and what’s not.
Megan Porta: With that said, though, there are some food accounts and food blogger accounts on TikTok that are massive and that people love. So it’s more just your personal preference. So you were saying it’s not something you consumed on TikTok, so it’s not something you should produce.
Samantha Erb: Yes. Correct. Yeah. There are people that are getting millions and millions of followers on TikTok and I say good for them. But a lot of them are not food bloggers. They’re not the ones that have food blogs. They are the ones that are the influencers that are on TikTok doing it full time to make sure that they have multiple posts going out a day.
Megan Porta: So we covered a little bit about TikTok. What else do we need to know about Reels if we are either trying to rejuvenate our account or just digging in?
Samantha Erb: Just do it. Just go in there. You don’t have to be perfect. Maybe put out a whole week’s worth of reels and look at them and say, okay, which ones were actually doing well, which ones didn’t do as well. Why do I think they didn’t do as well? Then use that for the next week to say, okay, I’m going to focus on these types of reels instead. So you really want to hone into your audience to see what’s working for them, because what works on my account may not work on your account. So you want to see exactly what your audience likes. Just because your food blog is based around, even if you’re a general niche food blog, just because it’s a general niche doesn’t mean your Instagram has to be that. You want to find out exactly who your audience is on Instagram and how they differ from your blog audience and then play from there.
Megan Porta: Have you seen a positive transformation in your business overall, Sam, since you’ve started really digging into Reels?
Samantha Erb: Yes, it makes me more comfortable in talking to my audience and being more engaging than on other platforms. If people aren’t as nice to a photograph or a video, I have the confidence to speak back not so nicely to them. Whereas before I’d be like, Oh, okay, I’m sorry about that and do something like that. But I am more, not confrontational, but more assertive to say and more confident to say something to them because I know exactly who my audience is and who I am attracted to. It just makes everything flow a lot better from the blog aspect and social media.
Megan Porta: Is there a type of blogger or maybe someone in a certain situation that you wouldn’t recommend this strategy for?
Samantha Erb: Somebody who’s just starting out blogging. If you are focused on blogging, you want to focus on your SEO first and then explore from there. Or if you’re trying to grow your Pinterest account, focus on Pinterest and then something different. Because if you’re trying to do it all, you’re going to spread yourself thin and only give each platform about 25%. So you want to give each part 100%. Once you have that grown, move to the next part. Give that part your 100% and then keep going from there.
Megan Porta: Amazing. I have some ideas for things I can do and improve on Instagram. So thank you for the inspiration and encouragement today. I appreciate it. We all appreciate your value that you shared.
Samantha Erb: You’re welcome.
Megan Porta: Is there anything we missed?
Samantha Erb: I think that’s it because we talked about what makes hashtags, descriptions. So I think that’s everything.
Megan Porta: Okay, awesome. Thank you so much, Sam. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to end with?
Samantha Erb: Yes, I spoke about this a little bit earlier, but to hone it in, it’s consistency is what transforms the average into excellence. You don’t have to be excellent at what you do. You can be average, but just be consistent to be successful.
Megan Porta: It’s the byline of food blogging, I feel like, especially this year across all platforms. Consistency is everything. So that applies here as well. So thank you for that. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Sam. So if anyone wants to go look at those, go to eatblogtalk.com/everydayfamilycooking. Tell everyone where they can find you online, Sam.
Samantha Erb: So my site is www.everydayfamilycooking.com and across social media, it’s basically the same. You can go ahead and follow my account to get ideas to help for reels and other parts on the platform or other aspects.
Megan Porta: Cool. Thanks again for being here and thank you so much for listening to today’s food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Sponsor: Food bloggers. Real quick want to hop in to tell you about an exciting opportunity for all of you travel lovers out there. A lot of you foodies are also big on exploring our country. If you plan on exploring New York City anytime soon, this might be a great opportunity for you. If part of your audience relates to travel, they could benefit from this as well. The New York City Borough Pass is the best way to experience the unique cultures and stories of New York City. This sightseeing pass for sustainable cultural travel provides access to a diverse roster of attractions, tours, and performing arts venues in each of the five boroughs of New York City.
Like the Alice Austen House Museum where you can explore the life of the LGBTQ icon, or the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden that houses over 1 million living plants, or the City Reliquary Museum with its quirky and hyper-local New York City collections. The best part? Eat Blog Talk listeners, receive a 10% off of 1-3-7 and 90-day options with the code EatBlogNYC so you can choose the perfect duration for your adventure in the city. What are you waiting for? Get your New York City Borough Pass today and discover the beauty of the people and places that make New York City one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting destinations. Go to nycboroughpass.com to get yours now. NYCboroughpass.com. Use code. EatBlogNYC.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like minded peers. I will see you next time.
💥 Join the EBT community, where you will gain confidence and clarity as a food blogger so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS! Join at the Member level to gain access to a food blogging forum, challenges that will help you grow certain parts of your business, themed content bundles, exclusive podcast episodes, a virtual coffee shop, webinars, service providers and resources directory, and more!
✍️ Reach out to connect with Heather Eberle, a copywriter for food bloggers. As much as you enjoy your business, maybe writing or marketing isn’t your cup of tea. Maybe you’d rather spend more time in the kitchen and less time on your laptop. Heather is here to clear your plate!