Small Business Spotlight: Harnessing The Power Of Instagram At Foooodieee

October 09, 2018 - 3:57 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- This is a story about taking your social media to the next level.

Tessa Gluck owns the popular Foooodieee Instagram and brand, and she has found a way to monetize her niche content. She explained to WCBS 880 Joe Connolly how she did it in this week’s “Small Business Spotlight,” sponsored by BNB Bank – Community Banking from Montauk to Manhattan.

“I think the breakthrough was definitely the followers, companies, restaurants – they look at your following. If you have as certain amount of following they put you on that top tier of, 'Let's work together,'” Gluck said. “I think when I really hit that breakthrough probably about when I was at 100,000 followers that's when everyone was coming to me and wanting to work with me.”

Gluck explained that advertisers have a checklist that she met once she gained a sufficient following.

“What do you post? How do you engage with your followers? They have a whole criteria that that's how they choose who they want to work with,” she said. “So I felt that when I hit 100,000 people that's when I started getting called.”

She said receiving the calls from advertisers was a surprise.

“I started my Instagram as a fun little side hustle you could say. So when I first got that first email of, 'Hey Tessa, we'd love to work with you on a paid opportunity,' I think I almost like fainted,” Gluck said, “and then it just kind of ever since then it has gone up.”

Gluck started the Foooodieee Instagram in August 2014, and said she hit 100,000 close to a year later. Since, she has been working with paid opportunities.

“At first, I kind of took it and it was exciting and it was you know we're going to pay you this and I was like, ‘Great, amazing.,’” she said. “As I began to work with other people and different various companies instead of working with a cookie company that wasn't as known to working with for example a cookie company that's very known, I knew I could possibly charge a little bit more and they, knock on wood, never had come back to me and said no.”

The food companies often pay Gluck to promote their new products.

“A lot of the time it's about a new product. So for example a cookie company will come to me and say, 'Hey we're coming out with a new cookie with a new filling. We'd love for you to post on your Instagram. Please let us know what you think?' SO I think backtrack and look at my Instagram. Does my Instagram fit this product?” she said. “So my Instagram is very desserts, food porn as they say, so I will depending on the product know if that will fit my theme and if my followers will like that.”

To develop a business relationship, Gluck first asks the companies what they’re looking for. She also explains that she is into photography, but also video and Boomerangs – which are three-second time lapses. She then applies her skills to the companies’ products.

“If, for example the cookie is coming out in a certain date range or they want me to highlight something specifically about the cookie I will then create a caption which is the certain amount of characters, on Instagram there is no limit but I tend to not do so long because people don't want to read that,” she said. “So I kind of create the caption which highlights what I am photographing and then we kind of converse and they approve the post based on if it fits what their mission is.”

A good caption is also a must.

“I think it's really catching your viewer's eyes,” she said. “You can look at a photo of a doughnut ice cream sandwich and instantly become drawn in but it's really about what the words are. So if they have access to this cookie for example I might say, 'Coming soon, Sept. 15, this new cookie is coming out,’ or ‘OMG, look at this cookie,’ breaking with the filling coming out. So it's kind of like catching them with the photo but also getting them to read the caption cause that's really what the advertisers want.”

Gluck also likes to test out products herself – and recording herself doing so.

“I did something with a new milkshake that was coming out and I went to the place, ordered the milkshake like a normal person, ended up taking a video of myself slurping it, giving my views and then I had posted for them. I find that my followers really love to actually see me in real life,” she said. “They are then engaged to go look at my post. So if I say, 'OMG this mint chocolate chip cookie milkshake was so great check out my post' and then that leads them to my sponsored post which is what the advertiser's goal is.”

She also sometimes documents the production of the food items.

“I've done things where I'm videoing the milkshake being made so I ask, 'Hey can I come behind the counter?' Do a little filming, and then my followers will then see alright she's not slurping it but they're actually seeing it being made, so they're seeing the milk, the crushed up cookie, the ice cream, they're seeing how it's developed. So that's another way that I'll catch my viewers,” she said.

Gluck’s posts go on the Foooodieee Instagram feed, and the food companies often repost it on their own accounts.

“If some followers that I don't have go to their page they'll essentially follow me. But 100 percent it goes on my page,” she said.

Gluck said she has come a long way since she started.

“When I started it I kind of just was like, 'I'm going to start an Instagram, not tell anyone it's me, kind of do it secretive, repost people.' But as I kept getting all of these features, I've been featured in a lot of different articles and magazines, so it kind of hit me that this isn't just a little side hobby anymore so it kind of grew,” she said. “I've been doing it for almost four years and I have over half a million followers. So it's kind of like a whirlwind but I never thought it would get to where it is.”

Gluck noted that Instagram is especially effective at connecting with people, even up against Facebook and LinkedIn.

"I think with Instagram it really is a platform that you can 100 percent connect with people. On Facebook for me when I first got a Facebook it was about going to a high school event, posting photos, not really connecting with people just having people see what you're posting,” she said. “With Instagram, you go on Instagram and you right then and there know what that person is eating or know what that person ate so it's more of a connection.”

Instagram Story is also especially useful for promotional purposes, Gluck said.

“I think it's great that you can go Instagram and you can click on my icon and you'll see exactly what I'm doing so for example after this if I post that I was here people know exactly where I was and they get excited. I've had different polls on my Instagram Story where you can ask your followers direct questions so would you rather see more dessert or more pizza? And they can go in and take their vote and then that makes me see what they want,” she said.

Gluck had some advice for the food industry as it tries to reach new customers. In short, it’s all about Instagram.

“I've been reached out to by restaurants that say 'Hey we have 500 followers, we really want to grow our following how do we do that?' Probably a good percentage don't have social media. Nowadays for me if I want to find the best chicken parm in New York City I go to Instagram. I'm not googling because Google a bunch of people can write things but if I go on Instagram and I look up #ItalianFoodNYC that hashtag would bring me to people who have used that. So it's really kind of researching Instagram like you would use Google,” she said.

Gluck will be at the next Small Business Breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 25 on Long Island as one of our featured panelists. To register and learn how you can thrive on social media, click here.