We cover information about how to use Instagram analytics to find content that works, effective hooks that grab attention and whether the timing of your post matters.

Listen on the player in this post or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

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Jess Saunders co-founded Vegan Punks in 2017 in order to show that vegan food is delicious, easy to make and accessible. Prior to this, Jess was the social media lead at the world’s first green energy company, is accredited by the Charted Institute of Marketing and social media agency founder. In recent times, Jess has over tripled her Instagram following to over 110,000 using a unique strategy and reel formula that she developed over a number of months.


  • Consistency is key to Instagram success: Post in line with your strategy every day (or on a consistent basis) even when it feels like it’s not working to see big results eventually.
  • Compound small actions over time: Consistency compounds to significant results when maintaining effort on a long-term growth strategy.
  • Find your niche: The narrower your niche, the easier it will be to find what engages your audience best.
  • Experimentation is crucial for growth: What is working for other content creators? Trying new content types, hooks and styles is needed to find what resonates with your audience and increase reach.
  • Analyze engagement metrics: Watch time, saves and comments can reveal what content performs best and where users lose interest to improve future posts.
  • Consider audience activity times: Posting when followers are online can boost initial engagement and trigger wider distribution from Instagram.
  • Use hooks to grab attention: Visual and spoken hooks at the start can intrigue viewers and increase time watched, a strong signal to Instagram.
  • Engage your community: Asking viewers to comment or DM in captions builds relationships and indicates when a recipe is really popular.


Click for full script.

EBT549 – Jess Saunders

Intro 00:00

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. I have been a food blogger for 13 years, so I understand how isolating food blogging can be. 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. 

Megan Porta  00:37

Do you ever feel like things are changing so rapidly with all the platforms that it’s impossible to keep up with them? I feel like that all the time, especially platforms like Instagram. Jess Saunders from Vegan Punks joins me in this interview to talk about how to strategically grow a big Instagram account using a few simple concepts such as consistency, compound theory, which is that idea of just showing up repeatedly over and over and over until you see the results you want. And also doing a lot of experimentation growing a huge Instagram account will introduce you to new revenue stream as well as many other good things that can come your way. Jess is so sweet. She brings such a great vibe to this conversation and gives us a ton of value from overarching concepts to the nitty gritty details of what is going to grow your Instagram account. This is one of my favorite ever Instagram conversations that I’ve had here on the podcast. It is so good. I hope you love it too. It is episode number 549 sponsored by RankIQ. 

Sponsor  01:43

Eat Blog Talk is thrilled to unveil the Eat Blog Talk Accountability group. An exclusive community made for food bloggers who crave accountability, focus and connection. We understand that not everyone is ready to dive into the Mini Minds Group or the Masterminds program. That is why we’ve crafted this special offering for bloggers like you who want that extra push toward their aspirations, but aren’t yet able to make the financial or time commitment. Here’s what the e Blog Talk Accountability Group has in store for you for this low introductory price of $34 a month. This ongoing membership has its own private Slack channel. You will gain access to a dedicated channel facilitated by the community manager at Eat Blog Talk, Taryn Soli for questions, insights, and collaboration. You will get weekly accountability check-ins so you can stay focused and motivated with those weekly check-ins in Slack to track and achieve your goals competently. You’ll have access to productivity focus sessions. Join these optional live Zoom sessions twice a week to boost your productivity by working alongside your peers and tapping into that collective energy. And you will get monthly group Zoom calls replacing the former clubhouse chats. Join these calls to connect, discuss current topics, share experiences, and celebrate achievements. Those calls will be hosted by me, Megan Porta, and I can’t wait to see some of you there. If this sounds intriguing, head over to eatblogtalk.com/focus to sign up today. Eatblogtalk.com/focus.

Megan Porta  03:13

Jess Saunders co-founded Vegan Punks in 2017 in order to show that vegan food is delicious, easy to make and accessible. Prior to this, Jess was the social media lead at the world’s first green energy company. Recently Jess just has over tripled her Instagram following to over 110,000 followers using a unique strategy and reel formula that she developed over a number of months. 

Megan Porta  03:38

Hello, Jess, so excited to have you on the podcast. How are you today? 

Jess Saunders  03:42

Hey, Megan, thank you so much for having me on. I’m really good. Thanks. How are you?

Megan Porta  03:46

I’m doing good. I always love it when people ask me back, like how are you doing? Like, oh, I’m good, too. So thank you for that. We’re gonna have an amazing chat about Instagram today. I’m so intrigued to hear your strategies and your perspectives. But first, do you have a fun fact to share with us?

Jess Saunders  04:02

Yes, I do. For the past almost year, I’ve been fostering cats and kittens for a local Cat Rescue charity. And yeah, I’ve been doing that we’ve got we just got a new cat a week ago, week and a half ago and she’s very traumatized. And so she’s she’s gonna be a bit of a slow burn for us working on her getting her to socialize because she’s very scared from all of the experiences she’s had so far. It’s very rewarding, and I really hope that we’ll be able to get her forever home. 

Megan Porta  04:39

Yeah, that’s good for you for doing that. I love people who do that and put their love into that. Do you have a trick for not a trick but like, is there one thing that stands out for making animals comfortable who’ve been through trauma or is it just like a case to case basis?

Jess Saunders  04:54

I think it’s case to case and it depends on what their experience are with people before on that this one, what we found is treats. So if they love food, find a food that they cannot resist. And every day slowly but surely she’s she’s remembering that we’re bringing her it’s sort of like a little. It’s called a Licky Lick. It’s like a yogurt tube sort of thing. It’s a funny name. But yeah, it’s a yogurt shoe. And she cannot resist it. So we’ve got her like, you know, getting used to our hands being near her with through the tree, but it’s because she loves the food so much. 

Megan Porta  05:31

Oh, that’s awesome. It sounds like you’re the perfect people to do that. The Licky Lick? 

Jess Saunders  05:38

The Licky Lick, she can’t resist.

Megan Porta  05:40

Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. Love it. I would love personally to hear about your blog. I know you are an Instagram guru. But give us kind of a bit of a framework for where you started, like, just a little bit about your blog first.

Jess Saunders  05:56

Yeah, of course. So we actually started Instagram, before the blog. So the blog came almost a year after the Instagram. And basically, it was just because at the time at in 2017, like the vegan food scene wasn’t, and the options that were available, and the recipes that were available weren’t quite what it is now. So our whole mission was to show that vegan food is delicious, easy to make, and most importantly, accessible, you know, with all the cooking techniques and recipes that we were able to do with, you know, with limited options in the supermarket. And it all just kind of grew from there from being very overwhelmed and not not sure what we’re doing at all to, you know, a couple years later, quit quitting our jobs and going all in on it. And we also, we also started a social media agency, because my background is in marketing, social media marketing, and my husband, who is my partner in business, as well as life works in tech. So it’s a you know, I think I think that’s quite quite common in the food blogger scene. But it’s a match made in heaven when there’s such a tech element and such a creative element to running a food blog. So it works really, really well.

Megan Porta  07:11

That sounds like an amazing partnership. I love it. So you started Instagram about 2017 ish, correct?

Jess Saunders  07:18

The Instagram in 2016. The blog was 2017.

Megan Porta  07:21

And then I guess like, how has Instagram changed? Obviously, it was working for you then. But what made you yeah there’s a lot of questions in there. So I’ll go with the first one. Like how has it changed from then to now? 

Jess Saunders  07:35

Oh, massively. It’s a whole different ballgame. So it was we didn’t even have videos really back then. Like I think IG TV for the the ultimate. It was completely different to the reels and how we consume video these days. But it was a lot more about the photography days, the beautiful imagery, which for me at the time was like, Oh, I’m just getting into this, I had had a photography background, because like I did that at college, but not with food. So completely out of my depth. And I just remember looking at, you know, other Instagramers at the time, and the bloggers at the time saying, How are you getting this beautiful image? How does this work? And then, you know, go through, go through learning how to make food look incredible for for Instagram and for our for our blog, but yeah, completely different because you could post images, especially a food, and it would get loads of reach 1000s of likes. And now, you know, it’s changed a lot over the years. 

Megan Porta  08:40

Yeah, it’s a little more challenging now. So what prompted you to start your blog after one year of being an Instagram? 

Jess Saunders  08:46

I think it was just to have like a more joy. I mean, just you know, a fully a more fully like functioning area rather than just the caption. So you could have like, much more, much more room to speak with your with your audience and sort of connect with them on a more sort of like long form basis. Not not that Instagram was particularly short form, but I feel like it was another layer they really wanted to give to our audience that would that would offer more more content and more of a question and answer area. You know, you can add your FAQs in and you can you could do a lot a lot more with a blog I felt then that you could do with just Instagram time.

Megan Porta  09:32

I like how you put that just adding a new layer to your business, which is really good because it’s diversification, right? It’s always smart. Yeah. Cos Yeah. Okay, so Instagram, you guys are clearly crushing it. When did you start seeing a lot of success with that? Was it right off the bat? Was it after a few years? 

Jess Saunders  09:52

No. So right off the bat, we did have some good success and then sort of as things changed in our priorities, maybe We’re not on the platform they were on, we’re in the blog, we ended up kind of putting Instagram on the back burner for a while, like I didn’t know, I didn’t really know how to make video. So I was, you know, I just got to the point where I was so happy with my photography, and then all of a sudden, video king. Like, okay, I’ve just spent years working on, no. And then reels come in, and I was like, Okay, I’ve got no clue, I’m just gonna kind of post, you know, posting on Instagram, sort of like, a few times a week with images, focus on the blog, get that to a place where we’re happy. And then come back to the Instagram. And I would say, I spent a lot of last year doing a lot of trial and error, just really trying to work, work out a style, trying to work out what worked for our content, what worked for our reels, what worked for our audience, and then delved into the analytics. And I would have said, around September times, some traction, it was our first reel that got, like, I think it was about 200,000 followers, and I’m sorry, 200,000 views. And then it just kind of snowballed. After that I was Gosh, just got so into the analytics. And I really deep went deep into what was working, what wasn’t looking at what was working for other people as well. And then looking at how people put together the reels for like the best of best effects so that people really get drawn into the content. And then I would say it was it all sort of kind of started snowballing in veganury for vegans in January. And we started posting twice a day in January. And we just said, because we were stuck, we were really stuck at about 37,000 followers for for some time, we’d hovered around that number. And then as soon as we just said, we’re going all in on this, I’ve done so much research, I’ve you know, put all of this effort in, it’s got to work. And then it just started snowballing. And people started to see see our content and interact with it a lot more. And we were getting huge, huge numbers on the reels. And then just the biggest thing was to just do more of what was working.

Megan Porta  12:10

I mean, it’s as simple as that. Right? Like, look at what’s working and do more of that. It seems like we overcomplicate things so often, especially with Instagram, it seems to be this ever changing thing that we just can’t figure out. But I love that you just buckled down and you’re like, Okay, analytics, what’s working, and let’s do more of that. So what things came out of that, that you’re utilizing now in your strategy? 

Jess Saunders  12:34

So it was it was niching down. So we started with because we really had to start trying experimenting with stuff because I hadn’t felt that that things had been working really, really well. So which is that we’ve got to try different types of content, we’ve got to try different ways of putting the reels together. And then we just sort of went well, we really love tofu. So we’ll we’ll do some tofu recipes. And they started, they started really get getting noticed. And then we decided to do a tofu science sort of experiment. We’re not scientists, there was a lot, there’s a lot online about how people who just don’t like tofu, they are just like, No, the texture is awful. And then there are the tofu people who absolutely love it and will eat it, you know, direct out of the packet without any seasoning or anything. So like we’re not quite there. What we decided was to look at the techniques that people had been talking about, you know, online for a long time. And we just sort of decided, right, we’re going to do experiments. And we’re going to do you know that what a really, really big thing to do with tofu is to put it in the freezer, and freeze it. And then it becomes more meaty. And it takes on marinade once it’s defrosted, and you can actually do that process twice. And that was the first video for us that really exploded, I think it’s over like 3.4 million views now. Yeah, so we’re just like, it’s so then we ended up turning that into a series just knowing that that was something that was really working for us. We kind of really like slid into that and started doing working a lot more with tofu and I think we did about eight experiments in sort of like the first series and we’ve got we’ve got more more to come because we noticed that when we do tofu stuff, it just performs a lot better than any other type of content.

Megan Porta  14:27

Do you do things outside of tofu on Instagram? 

Jess Saunders  14:30

Yeah, we’ll do other stuff as well because I can’t eat tofu for breakfast you know, maybe one day maybe one day that that would be fine for one day but no I had to have a break. We have been making other things and and other stuff has you know is performing well you know a hell of a lot better than anything would have performed on our account account this time last year. It’s just that nothing is performing as well as the tofu stuff.

Megan Porta  14:58

Isn’t that interesting? Instagram just decides, or the people who follow you on Instagram decide, I don’t know, maybe all of the above? Yeah, just like, Oh, they’re the tofu experts. 

Megan Porta  15:08

It’s so funny, like people like Tofu King and Queen in our comments, like, okay.

Jess Saunders  15:16

Yeah. That’s a really interesting comment, though, that you said Instagram besides or, you know, the people decide or the people to get the both together, right? And someone said to me the other day, like how how does so how does it work? Then you post something that’s a tofu related reel. And then Instagram goes, oh, these are tofu people, we better give this loads of reach. And I don’t actually think it works like that. And so I think what happens is people become in the first sort of, like, couple of hours, your followers who that’s who Instagram will be testing it with go, I really liked this. And there’s a lot of engagement. And then Instagram gets the picture and starts pushing it out. Because it wants more people to see it because it’s already sort of like, realize that the people that already follow you like that content. Yeah. I just wonder about that. And that’s what I think anyway, but knowing you know, there is no, there’s no one rule for how the algorithm works. I don’t think anybody really knows

Megan Porta  16:15

No, yeah. I love how you said that. So people see it, they engage with it. And then that’s the trigger for Instagram to say, oh, okay, it’s tofu content. So we’re going to make them the tofu, King and Queen, but like that, like you said, Who knows how it actually works? But that is what it seems like, right? Yeah, it definitely does. Yeah, that way. Okay. So once you figure out what your little niche is, and Instagram, you guys are tofu. What do you do from there to gain more traction. 

Jess Saunders  16:43

So we have a content plan, and we have a commitment to ourselves and to each other, that we’re going to be sticking to that content plan. And it just sounds so simple, but it’s so hard when you’ve got the content plan, but then, you know, bloggers know all about this, you have to move things around, you know, I might put that into next week now, but we’ve just said that if it’s if we’re going to carry on, and it’s going to be working, and we’re going to be growing still, we have to be so committed to this content plan, and to the things that are working, that we really just don’t have any excuses to go. We’re not going to do this today, or we’re going to move that to next week. Because we don’t we’re just not going to.

Megan Porta  17:23

I mean, you just have to do it, you have to act like your boss, your own boss, right? Yeah, I’m gonna be like, you have to do this, you don’t have another choice. And just being so consistent with it.

Jess Saunders  17:33

Exactly. The consistency is absolutely everything. I know, anyone who talks about Instagram is like it’s the consistency. And to me, it doesn’t matter really like what time you’re posting, as long as you’re doing it. And you know, there are better times to post for your audience, but at the same time, if it’s going to perform it’s going to perform. 

Megan Porta  17:53

So with consistency, do you feel like you need to figure out a number of days per week that you post? Or is it not quite that consistent?

Jess Saunders  18:01

I think it will depends on your goals. So if your goal is to, you know, get a million reel views or to grow your followers, I think you need to be posting posting not just once a week, I think you need to be posting every day, or six at six days out of seven, because I just think for it to work, you’ve got to try so many things. And testing all of this stuff out means that you just need to get it out there and not hold back.

Megan Porta  18:31

So I’ve heard you say this a few times just that experimentation piece is huge. Just being willing to dig in to your analytics. Yes. And be consistent, but like also experimenting with what that means for you. 

Jess Saunders  18:43

Yeah, exactly. And I think if you’re not getting the reach and the exposure that you’re wanting from the content that you’ve been posting so far, it’s not really like it’s not the algorithm’s fault. It’s not your followers fault. There’s, there’s something that’s not hitting. So I think you have to try think outside the box and try other methods and other types of other types of content. And I don’t mean other types of content, like not recipes, I just mean different types of recipes and your approach to how you’re positioning the content may need to change.

Megan Porta  19:16

So once you find something that really seems to work in your account, what do you do with it from there?

Jess Saunders  19:21

Do you mean sort of like as a as a theme? Or do you mean as an individual? 

Megan Porta  19:25

So like, you’ve figured out like, let’s say, you know, tofu works and three days a week posting reels works? Do you just stick to that? Or do you do other experimentation,

Jess Saunders  19:37

I would say stick to stick to it. Because a really big thing for Instagram is consistency. So if you’re going to be posting if you’re going to be posting three times one, week five, the next and then one the next it gives mixed signals to Instagram to your audience. So I think sticking to what you’ve set out for yourself and using your stories and using your broadcast channel. And engaging with your followers and engaging with your comments. And letting people know, you know, if you’re going to be posting three times per week, let people know to expect those posts three times per week. So I would say the most important thing is to stick to your schedule be consistent. And then over time, you see the results. 

Megan Porta  20:20

And you kind of learn what the platform and what people want from you there. Do stories play into this too? 

Jess Saunders  20:26

Yeah, I think stories play into it. I don’t really I don’t think having like, too many stories on is needed. But I think it’s a really good way to engage with your most your most engaged followers and sort of like get get a personal sort of relationship going with your most engaged followers who are going to be the people that are responding to your stories,

Megan Porta  20:47

Isn’t it a way to just make people kind of like you more like you’re presenting a personal real sight of yourself in that way. That’s what I feel like stories are really good at


I think so. And I think it’s because it’s a lot more relaxed. You can talk about different stuff like we you know, something funny that might have happened or like we’re talking about the cat that we’ve got with us and getting advice from people and connecting people with people that way. And also, we found on stories because the the grid is like quite hard, and reels are quite hard to get traffic to your website. But we’ve found in stories, it’s a lot easier because if you say if you say I’ll DM you if you want the recipe and then you end up getting like 100 people going I really want that recipe so you can actually send them links so you can kind of build in some traffic driving as well.

Sponsor  21:39

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Megan Porta  23:54

Okay, I am curious about reels because this is a new thing. It doesn’t seem to be going away either. Right? Do you feel like reels are sticking around?

Jess Saunders  24:03

Yeah, I don’t think reels are gonna go away. 

Megan Porta  24:06

Okay. I don’t know if that’s good news or bad news. But you kind of said it like yeah, I don’t think so. Do you think it’s bad news? Or do you think it’s good news?

Jess Saunders  24:14

I think it’s good news. I think it’s really I think reels have fun. I think you know, tick tock is the biggest competitor to Instagram. They’re not getting rid of tiktoks video, so I don’t think Instagram will.

Megan Porta  24:28

Okay. I think that is good news too, because we’re kind of getting used to it. We’re in this groove of like, okay, reels are here. We need to learn them. Do you have any tips for reels for us?

Jess Saunders  24:39

Yeah, for sure. I think I keep coming back to consistency. But I think if anyone looked at my account, you would see that the way that the reels play out are almost exactly the same dependent no matter what the recipe is. So I’ve got I’ve got a formula that I kind of stick to for how it how it will work. for how I think I’m gonna get get it to blow up or to get bigger reach. But I also have part of that formula is how I put the reel together. So I always use the same, the same background, I’m using basically the same plate, depending on the depending on the recipe, not always, but because the styles the same, I feel like you know, you can mix up your plates. But the, I think the consistency and getting people to recognize it’s you, I think you need to be consistent with the way that the reel plays out. Like I don’t, I don’t maybe I’m waffling a bit, but I noticed that it really worked when I just decided I’m not going to try different things for every reel as far as the way the reel plays out goes. So every clip that I’m arranging, that I’m putting on to the reel is like, Okay, we’re going to have the hero shot first. And that’s going to have movement, and then we’re going to do some more yummy shots. And that’s going to be four seconds, four to five seconds, and then we’re going to have the tasting, then we’re going to go into, you know, the most important part of what we’re cooking. And then it all kind of plays out in a paced way. Like I for me, it’s like, quick paced, not too slow, not not too fast. But at pace, especially if you’ve got the music and you’ve got the voiceover, it’s all kind of layering up. And it’s fun to watch. And so I think for our account and for our content, it needs to be at that sort of like mid tempo. So things are happening quickly. So people don’t get bored, but not so quick that they don’t know what’s happening.

Megan Porta  26:35

So what works on your account is not necessarily going to work on my account. So it really does go back to that experimentation and finding what works for you, right? 

Jess Saunders  26:44

Absolutely, absolutely. I think that there are some things that you can say, well work for everyone, like using a hook in the beginning of the video. But the hook, the type of hook that will work won’t necessarily be the same and the visual hook won’t necessarily be the same. So there’s, I think that there’s like theory that that will work for me, every food bloggers account to a to a degree but then how how it visually looks and plays out may be very different. It may be that there are there are some so there are so many accounts that are crushing it right now whose reels are quite slow, like we have food adverts so, so we’ve called Marks and Spencers and it’s a luxury food brand. And their TV advertising is all about yumminess. And everything’s done really slowly to really draw out how yummy everything is. And there are some content creators that are just nailing that, that style so well. But I know if I did it, it just wouldn’t work.

Megan Porta  27:44

Yeah, I mean, I see like so many consistent themes with what you’re saying, like the consistency and the experimentation and what is working for you. The hook does seem to be something that a lot of successful food bloggers are really nailing Right. Like if you can nail that hook, and get people to watch the whole reel. I think that is so huge.

Jess Saunders  28:04

Yeah, for sure. Because I think time watched is one of the biggest factors right now. And if you can get people to watch and watch twice, or one and a half times, then that’s such a such a strong signal to Instagram that people are enjoying your content. And so it will keep on getting put in front of more people.

Megan Porta  28:24

Do you feel like the hook is hard to figure out for people?

Jess Saunders  28:26

Yeah, I think it’s really hard for people to figure out the hook, and especially to figure out which you know, which which ones you’ve got confidence to use and which ones you kind of shy away from, I think is is another thing as well. And it was like Oh, is that too? Is that Is that too? Out that thing? Like I remember doing one that was? I quite liked actually in the in the end. Like, it was like this is so wrong. It’s right. And it just sounds a little bit cringe. But also it works really well. So it was like, Oh, I stand by it. 

Megan Porta  28:59

Yeah, so wrong. It’s right. I love that. Yeah, I mean, with food, it can be really hard to pull out like what is going to pull people in unless it’s something just like a crazy, you know, cheesy gooey bite or something like that. But if it’s just like a salad or everyday food, how do we think about a hook in that way?

Jess Saunders  29:19

I think we can think about visual hooks and spoken hooks. So the visual hook for the food like is going to being that we all know as the hero shot, the goeyest as to like whatever you think the hero bit about the recipe is that’s it, but then the spoken hook isn’t necessarily about the food at all. So thinking about the spoken hook in a completely different way to how you think about the food itself was a really big learning lesson for me. 

Megan Porta  29:46

That is so great for you to say because I don’t always think of that. I always think visually when I’m thinking of food, I think oh what can we see with the salad but it doesn’t have to be visual. It can be what we say like I don’t know, I devoured this in two minutes or something like that just to pull people in and get their attention,

Jess Saunders  30:05

Or something that’s really going to like, get them intrigued. So I think we did one that was that really spoke like that got people talking was like, if you’ve been doing this, then you’ve been wasting your time. So it’s not even about what it tastes like. It’s not even about how you make it or how good it is. It’s about something completely different. And it’s like pushing pushing buttons, but in like, a fun way. It’s definitely not serious. But it’s in a super fun way. And that gets people to watch longer.

Megan Porta  30:37

Yeah. And interesting that you have a marketing background, because this is how marketers think they think, what is going to pull people in right away?


Yeah, that’s it. So I’ve kind of been used to doing that for most of my career, like I’ve worked in marketing for 10 years, sort of like starting at the very, very buttoned and my qualifications and the air went through. So I ran the social media team at the world’s great first green energy company, and then sort of like went on and ran my own social media agency on the side of building my blog. So it’s been a wild ride, because when you consider like 10 years ago, TikTok didn’t even exist. It changes so quickly.

Megan Porta  31:19

Oh my gosh, it does. I feel like the food bloggers and Instagram accounts that have marketing as a background do so well, because it’s more and more important that we have that top of mind, just like what is going to pull people in right away and keep them. So I think you definitely have an advantage with that. Do you have any other tips from that perspective as far as like how not necessarily with the hook, but just how to engage people a little bit more in Instagram?


Yeah, always. I think everyone says this, but I think the caption of the reel is really important as well, and telling people what to do from that caption. So, you know, DM, or DM or comment below, and just ask a question. So it could be something like comment if you want the recipe if you haven’t already included the recipe. And that can help build your engagement. And it’s something that I think people stop doing for a while, and maybe people shy away from because it feels a bit bossy. I actually found over maybe the last year that I definitely see people are so so used to that. And I think when you see people going, you know, DM me this word or common this word below, you get lots of people doing it, because if they’ve given value, and they want it, they’re going to comment. 

Megan Porta  32:37

And I think people like being told what to do a little bit, right. Like they don’t like waffling and like I don’t know where I’m Where am I supposed to go? They kind of like that bossiness, from what I’ve seen. Yeah.


I completely agree. Especially when it’s so easy to get distracted on social media. So if you’re engaged in something, and then they’re saying do this thing, it’s like, Okay, I’ll do that next. Yeah.

Megan Porta  33:00

Exactly. Like you’re reaching your hand and and pulling them out and guiding them a little bit. Yes. Is there anything else with reels specifically that you want to mention that could really help people grow. 

Megan Porta  33:11

Just considering the music that you’re using, I think is one way of growing as well. So going for not necessarily the music that you like, but the music that’s trending. And as long as it suits the reel that you’re making, I think trying to use music that is currently on the on the rise is a really smart thing to do.

Megan Porta  33:35

Have you experimented with music versus voiceovers?

Jess Saunders  33:39

I always use both. Oh, you do? Okay. Yeah. Awesome. Because I think it layers the sound and makes it more inviting.

Megan Porta  33:47

No, I agree. I’ve experimented with that a little bit, too. And I like how it sounds, you have to get just the right volume, right, like experiment with that. But versus just the voiceover. I feel like that’s a little dry for my taste. But I know some accounts that do really well with that, too.

Jess Saunders  34:04

Yeah, for sure. And I suppose that’s just another example of like, what works for me won’t work for the next person. And I think it just shows how how much opportunity there is still, even now that so many different things are working for people, it’s still worth putting energy into it.

Megan Porta  34:23

Is there anything outside of what we’ve already talked about that we can start experimenting with when it comes to seeing what works on Instagram?


Maybe trends? Just thinking about a trend, for instance, that came out recently it was that it was like smashed potatoes, but as a salad. We were like, oh, okay, so how could we make this us if we wanted to do that? So we were like, well, we’ll we’ll put tofu into it. Well, we’ve got this whole thing where we’re doing double tofu, so two types of tofu and one dish. And so we ended up doing like tofu bacony crumbs on the top and also for the dressing room using silken tofu, and that the that made up the bulk of the cream, the creamy dressings. So thinking about what trends are coming out and making them your own. So even if it’s something like a smashed potato salad, that’s just what it is by itself, but how can you make it your own? And I think that’s how that’s the best way of using of jumping on trends. 

Megan Porta  35:22

Do you carry that over to your blog as well? Or do you think of that solely as like an Instagram experiment?


I think it’s more an Instagram experiment for me at the moment, because I find a lot more of our blog content is more SEO lead.

Megan Porta  35:40

Yeah. So they don’t always crossover? 

Jess Saunders  35:42

No, I think that’s one another really, really big learning for me was that I was doing Instagram secondary to blog content. So not not that it’s secondary important, it was just came off the back of the blog content. So I would do a recipe for the blog. And then I would do share the exact same recipe on the blog as as a reel, or, you know, not not not necessarily a well done reel, it would still be reel. But I found that the way I had to the way that I come up with recipes for the blog, and that perform on the blog is completely different type of content that performs on Instagram. So, you know, I was trying to streamline that by making sure that the blog content informs the Instagram reels. But for me, it just doesn’t work. Okay.

Megan Porta  36:29

And then do you take into account the time of day that you publish on Instagram or anything like that?

Jess Saunders  36:36

Yeah, I think it’s important to look at your analytics and see when your audience is most active, and then sort of post maybe 20 to 30 minutes before that time. That’s what I tend to do. To be honest, I’m not always the best at getting out at the perfect time for my account every day. But if I’m if I miss a slot, I’m still going to post it. And you know, I’m still going to post it as long as it’s not the middle of the night. If it’s if it’s a if I need to post a half for and then I miss that. I’m gonna post it by seven.

Megan Porta  37:10

Do you use scheduling tools at all?


I use the Instagram scheduler. I quite I quite like it, but it’s buggy. That’s, that’s the downside. That’s the downside. Sometimes. I remember I’ve pressed schedule before, but it posted it. And I was like, no.

Megan Porta  37:27

That’s a pretty big bug. 

Jess Saunders  37:29

Yeah, that was a big bug. I don’t think it does that anymore. But I don’t, I don’t tend to use scheduling a lot. If I’m going away, I definitely will. And I tend to schedule because I’m still doing carousel posts, and I find them to be really good driving traffic. So I will schedule those ahead of time because I feel like that they’re just easier to schedule using meta suite. 

Megan Porta  37:52

Okay. So you schedule the carousels and then the rails you just do live generally. Okay. Do you find or have you heard of scheduling tools impacting the attraction you get on Instagram? 

Jess Saunders  38:06

Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I’ve heard of it. I’ve not, I probably haven’t experimented enough to have a strong opinion on it. But I think scheduling tools are just so handy. If it’s working for you. I think they’re great. But it may be it’s it could be worth stepping away from the scheduler for a month and seeing how it goes when you’re just directly sharing to Instagram, I think, you know, for businesses, it’s not, it’s not that easy to be able to share that many posts. If you’re posting more than once a day, it gets can get really hard even when we were posting twice per day in January. So I was sharing a lot of old content that I re you know, re-edited and put into the content schedule. And I was scheduling, I was scheduling a lot more than because two a day is just, I just need to be organized.

Megan Porta  39:00

I know I’ve only published four a week on my Eat Blog Talk siye. And that feels like a lot to me, like, especially if we’re on vacation or if it’s a weekend and I know I have to get something out. It’s just inconvenient. I wish there was some magic scheduler that was like I don’t know, didn’t have the bugs. And all the weird things like music for me is really hard because we like release specific music to go into our reels. But you can’t get the volumes right in a scheduler so you just kind of have to publish live if you want things just the way you want them.


I found that as well. What especially I was trying to use Meta Suite to schedule the reels, but the volume controls were really hard to use. And so I just thought I’m going to have to do this either manually but if you can schedule it on your Instagram from your phone, and when it’s not bugging out, it’s quite good. You just I just find I want to know I want to remember each day what time it’s going so that I can be around and like to share it to the stories and to, to answer comments and stuff. So I guess that’s that’s one one downside as well, you have to even though you scheduled it, I always think, oh, I need to be around so that I can say that I can like make sure that I’m giving this post the best chance. 

Megan Porta  40:17

Right? So you might as well just publish it live, I guess and be available anyway. Save the stress. Yeah, I’ve just been like throwing a ton of questions at you. I hope that’s okay. I have one more question. And then I’ll make sure that we’re we’ve covered everything when you go into analytics. I know you’ve mentioned that a few times. Is there anything specific you think we should look at if we’re just trying to get a handle on what people are liking, like times of publish like anything like that?


Yeah, I think looking at the watch time is really interesting to see where at what point of the video, people are kind of tailing off and moving on to the next piece of content. So you can see that maybe that’s when they got bored and consider what what was happening on screen at that time. And reasons that for that, that that people were exiting at that point. So I think I think that’s really interesting. And that’s, that’s maybe like a pacing issue. Or maybe there was, you know, too much stirring, which can get boring, but is you know, a key part of cooking. So I think that’s a really important one. And then the times I think is important to look at when people are when people are online. And even though I you know, I’m not stickler for that. But it’s best to give yourself the best chance possible. So using that. And then I also like to look at saves, because that’s such a big indicator that people are like, Okay, I love this so much, and you need to come back to it later. And if you’ve got if one post is outshining everything else for the saves, you know, it’s probably performing better as well. But that’s a really strong indicator that you should make more content like that because your audience love it. 

Megan Porta  41:54

Okay, those are great places to start. And no analytics, for me can be a little bit overwhelming. So I just like having kind of a little bit of a guide. When I go in there. Yeah. Yeah. Is there anything else that you feel would round out this conversation that we haven’t touched on Jess?

Jess Saunders  42:11

I just think touching on how we’ve talked about consistency, but I always like to think of it as compound theory as well. So the thought that you can, you know, continue in, doing small actions consistent, consistently, that lead to, you know, small wins, but then over time leads to really big wins. I think that’s something to really just keep front of mind when you’re trying to grow your Instagram account, because it might seem like at the time is getting 1000 views. But that’s, you know, 1000 views, that’s really good. And if you’ve got 1000 views for 30 days, that’s 30,000 views, and then over time, that’s going to increase if you just keep on taking the small action every day. 

Megan Porta  42:54

I love that. And that applies to so many parts of our business too, right? Like our blog, I mean, just consistency, showing up day in and day out for anything is going to pay off eventually. So love that great way to end. Thank you for all of this gives us a great handle on what’s working right now on Instagram. So we really appreciate you and everything you shared today.

Jess Saunders  43:15

Thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure. And I love talking about this stuff. So you know I could just go on and on but that can get really boring.

Megan Porta  43:23

Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with Jess?

Jess Saunders  43:27

Yes, the thing that instantly sprang to mind when you said this was, feel the fear and do it anyway, something that’s just been with me since I was a teenager. You know, when you get scared of putting yourself out there or trying something it’s just kind of like oh, do it anyway, just feel that and do it anyway, it just really speaks to me.

Megan Porta  43:45

Oh, I love that so much. Yes, totally agree with that. We will put together a show notes page for you. Just if you want to go check those out head to eatblogtalk.com/veganpunks. Tell everyone where they can find you.

Jess Saunders  43:57

Yes, it’s at vegan-punks for the for our food blog, Instagram and for my Instagram tips and tricks and my accelerator that’s @heyjesssaunders on Instagram as well.

Megan Porta  44:11

Everyone go check this out and all her accounts. Thank you again so much Jess, for being here. And thank you for listening food bloggers. I will see you next time. 

Outro  44:22

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk, please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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