Oh wow. This is a biggie. Social media seems to be where it’s at these days, doesn’t it?! Everywhere you look there are faces pointing down to phones, checking out the latest status updates, videos and news. And you’ve probably already heard that if you want to be a successful blogger then you ABSOLUTELY need to join in the fray. But does anyone actually have enough time to be on six different social networks? And is it really worth it? If you’ve ever asked yourself “should I be on social media?” then let me share a few pearls of wisdom.
Pin me for later!
Social media for food bloggers
Firstly, let’s talk about why bloggers use social media. If you think they’re all chasing the elusive 100,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snap Chat then you’d only be partly right. Because the clever bloggers know that it’s not about the numbers. Oh no.
It’s about the community.
One of the main points I keep coming back to with the Collective is that ultimately, if you hope to make some money blogging (which I’m guessing most of you do), then you have to convince people to buy from you. They will not buy from you unless they trust you. And they will never trust you unless they know you.
These days, the quickest way to reach your target audience is through social media; no other mode of communication gives us such instant feedback, gratification and progress. You can “show up to work” while you’re still in bed and be the real you. Warts and all. And when you show your audience the real you, you start to build that trust that is so vital to your growth.
The other benefit of this direct communication is that you can actually talk to your potential clients and find out what they want from you. You can literally ask for comments, responses to polls, interaction to a video and so on.
Then you can tailor your work to their needs, ensuring that you are putting out exactly what your community needs – and they will lap it up in response.
Note: Most bloggers use this engagement as an opportunity to add people to their email list. And, in terms of making sales, the email list is the greatest asset you can own.
Which networks are most popular?
As I said before, there are so many different social networks right now that it’s impossible to be on all of them, all of the time. When I wrote about choosing your niche, I mentioned that it is important to have a strict focus for your food blog or else you spread yourself too thin, trying to be all things to all people and never really getting to the nitty-gritty of any of it.
The same is true with social media.
Let me talk to you as fellow foodies for a moment. You know those inspirational quotes you see all over Instagram? Don’t bother. “Keeping strong when I feel like giving up” is not going to make me click through to your recipes. A photo of your dog on Facebook? Marvellous. If I want dog-training advice I’ll know where to look.
But for food? Here’s my top three:
My favourite has to be Pinterest. Firstly, Pinterest is known for being the place where people go to find recipes. Fact. Even before food blogging took off, Pinterest was full of profiles stuffed with dinner recipes. It is so easy to type “one pot meals” or “easy pasta dishes” into the search bar and pull up thousands of things to cook tonight.
Wait, hang on, the search bar?
Yup. Pinterest is a search engine. It’s not even technically a social-media channel. And here I am banging on about how important it is. In fact, you can read all about exactly how important it is here.
You can upload pictures of all your recipes with links straight through to the correct page, you can create boards with all your favourite pins (your own and other people’s) and you can have your own profile page so the world can see all your hard work. And people really will click through, because they use it just like Google – aiming to find a website with more information.
For results, Pinterest has to be the number one for food bloggers.
Ok, so what about actual social media? Well, tentatively, Facebook. Not that you can expect to get a lot of engagement from posting there anymore (their sneaky algorithms have basically scuppered anyone who doesn’t pay for advertising). But you can use Facebook for Facebook Live videos and for Facebook groups where you can, again, chat directly to your audience.
These days, every life coach worth his/her salt delivers coaching programmes and updates through Facebook Live. It’s as easy as holding your phone up like you are taking a selfie but pressing for video instead. And the whole world can watch you as it’s open to everyone, and comment as you’re speaking – so they can ask questions too (which of course you will reply to as you’re still on air – because you’re all about the engagement!). If you want to talk to people directly, it’s a brilliant FREE means of doing so.
I have a Facebook group and I love it. It’s called SMART Meals for Busy Cooks (SMART stands for Saves Money And Reduces Time) and I focus on sharing easy recipes and meal-planning tips to save the 5pm “what’s for dinner tonight?” headache. The great thing about my group is that everyone in it has requested to be there, so I only get members who I know are interested in what I’m doing. If I were to launch a paid product as a food blogger, e.g. a recipe book, my group is one of the first places I could pitch it.
But I actually don’t use my group for things like that. Instead, I give even more value to my members by running twice-yearly, month-long projects to help them with their food strategies. In the last year I’ve done a “Money Month” with hundreds of free resources on how to save money on food, how to shop and cook smarter and how to manage your finances, and a “Meal Month” with a new recipe every day themed around a particular style of cooking – quick and easy, low and slow, in advance and no cook.
There’s also a super secret facebook group for SUBSCRIBERS OF FOOD BLOGGING COLLECTIVE ONLY. It’s a great way to chat with others in the field and get loads more info on how to grow your food blog. We have sharing days and celebration days and you can put questions to me directly – I’m always hanging around.
To join the facebook group you need to subscribe here:
I posted this third because as food bloggers we really can’t afford to exclude it from the list entirely. Instagram is an amazing resource for visual niches and, as food bloggers, we have access to incredible visuals every day. If you are organised enough to keep snapping photographs of the food you are making then you will get a hefty number of likes each time you upload. Bonus points if you can write one of those clever captions to go with it: “you’ve stollen my heart”, “grab a pizza the action” or “Thai and stop me!”. See where I ‘m going here?!
But two things I’ve learned about Instagram:
#1 you really have to post multiple times every single day to get BIG results – in fact, if you stop posting, your followers will likely drop! and
#2 it’s really hard to get a click-through from Instagram because in order to place clickable links to your recipes you have to do so in your profile (Instagram doesn’t allow it in the posts directly). This means you either have to update your profile every time you post a new recipe so it links through to the right page, or you have to rely on people to find the right recipe through your homepage link.
Either way, you’re asking people to click off the original post, go to your profile, find your website or direct link, click through to the site and then get the recipe.
And they just won’t do that.
Wait, so should I be on social media?
I would say yes. But consider first what your primary aim is.
If you’re like me and you want people to visit your website and sign up to your email list, then you have to get them clicking through. It’s got to be Pinterest for that – and that’s a great place for a new food blogger to start. Instagram and Facebook (owned by the same people ironically) do everything in their power to get people to stay on their sites. Not yours.
After a while, if you find your focus is shifting a little or your audience has moved on to the next new thing, then by all means move with them!
But don’t ever feel you have to be everywhere at once or that the numbers of likes tell the truth behind your success. Because they don’t.
Now that you’ve heard the basics about social media for food bloggers, why not try some of these follow-on articles?
Which social networks are you most active on?