Episode #12: Listener Q&A

In today’s episode, we’re back with another round of Listener Q&A! We’re answering your questions about time management, attracting followers, hashtags, and more!

Podcast Sponsors:

NTA | Podcast Sponsor | Driven Podcast

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to Driven! Today is a listener question episode. We snagged the questions you’re asking of us over at Driven Podcast on Instagram, and hopefully we can give you some really clear advice and some good thoughts to chew on. Then we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip that will help you figure out something you can do right away.


  1. What’s on my plate [2:26]
  2. Shop Talk: Listener questions: real time posting versus after the fact [14:14]
  3. Listener Question: Planning ahead [20:14]
  4. Listener Question: Managing time with social media [25:52]
  5. Listener Question: Hiring outside help with social media [31:43]
  6. Listener Question: Growth versus engagement [40:30]
  7. Listener Question: Pivoting with the algorithms [44:30]
  8. Tip of The Week: Spacing your copy on Instagram [51:41]

Cassy Joy: Today’s show is brought to you by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants by focusing on bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes a whole-food, properly prepared, and nutrient dense diet as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s innate ability to heal.

Throughout their programs, students learn a wide-range of educational tools and techniques to identify and correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies in their clients, and to launch a successful career in holistic nutrition. The NTA produces like-minded practitioners that we endorse and consider colleagues in the health and wellness space. Registration for the February class is now open through January 31st. And seats are already filling up quickly. You can learn more, and save your seat by going to www.NutritionalTherapy.com. Don’t forget to mention our name, The Driven Podcast, on your application.

1.  What’s on my plate [2:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives this week. So Cassy, what’s going on?

Cassy Joy: Well, I just got back from New York City. The Big Apple. Where I attended an event called the Next Big Bite. It’s hosted by the local Les Dames chapter. Are you familiar with the Les Dames group?

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t even know what this word is that you’re saying.

Cassy Joy: I think it’s Les Dames.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. That sounds fancy.

Cassy Joy: It is fancy. And I mispronounced it the grand majority of the time was there. {laughs} I might still be mispronouncing it. Anyway. My publicist; my incredible publicist that I brought onto the team for Cook Once, Eat All Week help orchestrate this event. She’s local to New York City. And it’s a group; the Les Dames, if you Google it. It chapters all over the place, but of women in the food industry. Whether it’s food media, as in television or print, or they’re content creators of various degrees and professional career lengths.

So, they hosted this event called the Next Big Bite. And Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen was the keynote speaker, which was so neat. Because she is just pretty much OG blogger. David Lebovitz was also there, who started blogging in the 90s, you know {laughs} essentially before blog was ever even a word. It was so neat. I geeked out when I met both of them. And I was invited to attend as a panelist. And I got to sit on a panel next to a mix of different folks. There was a baking blogger who is writing a book. The editor of the Joy of Cooking book, if you’re familiar with old school Joy of Cooking. I’m sure everyone’s mother has this in their cookbook collection. That concept was inherited, I think it was by the great, great, great-grandson of the original author. And he and his wife now run the Joy of Cooking, and they’re coming out with a new edition. So she was on that panel.

Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking was there. Justin Chapel was on there. He is coming out with a book. He’s also an editor and a writer and has a show with Food and Wine. Somebody from the Feed Feed was there. It was just a really good mix. And then the moderator was an editor with Martha Stewart Magazine.

It was just so neat to be around these folks. And I was very nervous walking into it, because I’ve just followed some of these people’s careers for so long. Or they’re these large editorials that I just have a lot of respect for. And as Fed and Fit started off as a blog, but my goal and ambition is to bring it to the editorial stage. And it was interesting in hindsight, thinking back on the panel, the questions we were asked.

Because they wanted us to; if we disagreed; Carrie, my publicist, got on a phone call with me. Her and one of the other ladies leading the event. And I think that they had this conversation with just about everybody. But Carrie knows me really well. She was like; Cassy, this is not the time for you to out-nice the person next to you, and just agree and just say; “yes, what a wonderful thought.” She says; if you disagree, we want you to say that. We want you to just kind of interrupt, and have this make a really vibrant, lively panel. And that’s definitely what they got.

But in hindsight, I realized that this wasn’t an apples to apples conversation. And the way that; let’s say Gaby Dalkin and myself; the way we think about our businesses, us being the owners of the business. We work with a quaint team. And we get to, really, if we want to cook lambchops today and write about them tomorrow, we can do that. Right? So we get to be really nimble in our businesses. Whereas these larger editorials; even the Feed Feed, being as young as it is, I think I was chatting with somebody there with something like 25 employees. It’s not huge. It’s not Food and Wine. It’s not Martha Stewart. But they still have to think ahead.

So it was interesting; that felt like such a luxury that I like, and I like knowing that now, at this stage in my business, because we set it up to make sure we keep going in that direction. But I also thought it was interesting.

For those listening; if you are building your business as a content creator in the world of food, I think it’s good to kind of figure out who do you want to be at what point in time, right? Because; something else that set me apart was, I’m not interested in Fed and Fit being the Cassy show. At all. I’m obviously going to be a part of it, and I’m happy to be a big voice, and a cheerleader, and a researcher, and an enthusiast. But I have no desire to take all the credit of this business for myself. And I see myself as a problem solver, not out just making this big campaign for a parade. And I think that that’s something that might set you apart going forward in the future.

And the whole event was about trends, and I did think that one trend I wanted to share. All of us collectively on this panel were kind of anti-trends, because it’s not about the trend. It’s more about what the consumer is curious about. And you can call it a trend, or you can just say I’m cultivating resources for the people who are here, is how I see it.

But, going forward, a lot of these big editorials, even Food Network, for example, just dumped a ton of money into a new app that is all about teaching basic cooking skills. Because consumers; there’s, I mean, what. Millions? Billions of recipes available now online across all the food blogs. And while that’s still good, and I don’t want to discourage anybody from developing recipes online, our readers are now wanting to know cooking skills. And it’s interesting, because I have videos. And my most successful videos recently have been how to deconstruct a rotisserie chicken.

So I think that teaching folks basic skills; that’s why salt, fat, acid, heat is so popular. It’s why the Food Network is pouring so much into this app that teaches skills of how to cook certain things; methods. It’s just really fascinating. So if you’re looking for a prime opportunity, that is definitely one of them.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. My friend Laney from Life is But a Dish; she actually started something on her Instagram stories recently where she told her viewers she wants to teach people how to cook without recipes. Which is how most of us cook, right? Recipe developers, cookbook authors; we don’t cook from cookbooks. We learn how to cook, and it’s not just about technique. Part of it is technique; but part of it is learning flavor pairings, learning your tastes, learning how much salt is the right amount of salt for the right amount of ingredients, you know? And I think that’s awesome.

And I wonder, too, if the need to teach some more basics, looking at, like you said, curiosities versus trends. I love that. Looking at kind of who are the large market of consumers. And if we look at millennials as this market of consumers who want high quality food, but maybe aren’t dining out as much. Or maybe are like; wait, maybe I should make some of this at home, and I actually don’t know how to cut this chicken apart, because my mom didn’t know. You know; my mom, who is somewhere in her 50s or 60s, whatever age group. I’m just kind of thinking about that. It’s really interesting.

So back when I wrote Practical Paleo, I remember; of course I remember. I gave some step by steps of how to hold a knife, how to cut this, how to cut that. And a lot of folks did say that was really helpful. Because for some of them, 10 years ago was the first time they really got in the kitchen and started cooking. So, I love that. I think that’s so interesting. And I’m going to keep that in my brain for moving forward as I think about the kind of content I’ll be sharing.

I also love what you said about the whole modeling thing and thinking bigger picture as to maybe some established brands or editorials who are out there doing things. This is something that Siete foods; I know we’re both very familiar with the Garza family and Siete foods. But I think Miguel, one of the founders. Veronica and Miguel, I think, were the two core founders with the whole family of 7. They had said something about modeling sort of what El Paso did for Mexican food, but with this healthy bent.

So, I’ve been taking that to heart and I’ve really been kind of sitting with that and thinking about what I want to do with Balanced Bites as a brand. We currently have organic spices and we have frozen meals, but that’s not where it will end. And I’ve been thinking for a long time about that. And I like the idea of looking at some other well-established brands; not to mimic, but to be inspired by the path or the way that they’ve kind of set a standard and a certain way. I like that kind of mindset.

Ok, so I’ll keep a brief update this week, because it’s kind of a continuation of some things I was talking about last week with what’s going on over here. But basically, we are just kind of head down in the planning and formation mode of a new www.balancedbites.com. When we created Balanced Bites spices and the meals, at both of those times we essentially were like; ok, cool. And we’re launching it. And we’ve got these shops.

And initially when I was selling the spices, it was through Kasandrinos.com. I was completely not interested in running an online shop at the time, or dealing with inventory and dealing with fulfillment. I was like; I will create the thing, but I am not dealing with operations. That was my {laughs} boundary at the time. And so fortunate to have friends in the Kasandrinos family; Tony and Effie who were like; no problem. We’ll help you with warehousing and shipping. Like; we’ve got this. And I’m like; ok, cool.

So, when I took all of that back earlier this year, I never really created a website, a landing page. We have a shop, but we don’t really have a hub for Balanced Bites. So what we’re actually doing now is recreating the whole hub for Balanced Bites, and I mentioned it in our last episode. But with this unifying concept of simplifying dinnertime, and really helping people to see the resources that we have from the blog and recipes we have there to books to spices to meals, etc. And then also kind of reigniting the blog.

It will never get to this point where it’s kind of a huge editorial; I know that’s kind of the vision you have for Fed and Fit, and I absolutely love that. I think it’s great our listeners can hear these different angles on things. So we’re going to be creating content for the blog. Of course, a lot of it will have our spice blends. But it’s not all going to be recipes that just use our blends. There are going to be some treats. There are going to be other types of things in there, as well.

So just kind of getting back plugged into the content creation that I do love. But I tend to not stay as focused on it when I don’t have a book to work on. So for the past almost 7 or 8 years I’ve had a book that’s come out almost every single year. And that’s been really where I’ve poured most of my soul into in terms of creating, besides products. So the website is really going to get a lot of TLC, and we’re just super excited to relaunch that.

And, our new meals are getting officially underway. Probably next week we’ll begin some initial rounds of testing. And we’ll see. I don’t know exactly how long it will take, because once I get the first round back I have to taste everything. Make adjustments. Make notes. And we potentially have two rounds of modifications on that. But all of that is kind of in process, so I’m pumped about it.

Cassy Joy: That is so exciting.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes!

2.  Shop Talk: Listener questions: real time posting versus after the fact [14:14]

Diane Sanfilippo: Now it’s time for Shop Talk. In this segment, we talk about topics that are on both our minds and yours. We’ll cover all sides of the issue, and hopefully land somewhere concise, actionable, and helpful.

Today we’re actually covering some Q&A on social media. After our last few episodes all about social media, we wanted to throw it to you guys to find out what are the burning questions y’all still have. So I think we should just jump into it.

Cassy Joy: Let’s do it. OK, the first question is from Shelly Verducci, I think that’s how you say her name. And she asks, “First of all, your podcast is legit fire!” That’s so nice! “Thank you guys for doing all that you do. My question is; I heard on another podcast about business posting in real time versus after the fact. After the fact gives time to edit photos or video; maybe word things differently, and allows you to enjoy the moment. What are your takes on either approach? Do you prefer one or the other?”

What do you think, Diane?

Diane Sanfilippo: I would so I post the vast majority of the time in real time or very shortly thereafter. I think for me part of the insta is an instant moment. And I appreciate the heart of that. And I will say, for Instagram stories, huge, huge majority of the time it is in the moment. There are always going to be some things that are planned ahead. Sometimes there’s a launch, and there’s something that we need to share about, and I’m going to get it out to the feed or stories. But for me, most of the time, it’s either in the moment or within a short period of time.

I find that if I take a picture of something, and then I edit it and I kind of save it for later, or if I just say; I’ll post that tomorrow. I almost never do. I’m very much a right now person in a lot of ways, so that comes across for me with social media.

Cassy Joy: I’m kind of the opposite. I can speak to the other side of the coin. I am definitely somebody who; if you’re looking at my Instagram feed, just about everything on there was taken on another day other than when I posted it. And I write the captions usually in real time. So I might write the captions that morning, and then publish it an hour and a half later. I’ll do that through that app called Planoly. And I kind of; that way I’m allowed to have a little bit of a blend.

Because for me, when I, for example, if I just worked on Fed and Fit as an editorial feed. I don’t view it as my personal Instagram anymore. And stories is more of my personal Instagram, and you’ll definitely see more of my real life, that’s in the moment. Gus woke up in the bed with me, for example, here you go. But my Instagram feed is definitely planned and curated because we have an editorial calendar that we’re following. So by following that model, I’m able to take the picture of the creamy enchilada soup, and give myself some breathing room around it, right? Maybe six weeks later after I photographed it, I’m craving it again.

But those of you who are; if you’ve ever done recipe development. You plan it, you test it, you make it, and then you photograph it, and you write a whole blog post about it. And by that point; I’m over it. {laughs} I’m done talking about the soup. I’m not going to be excited about it. And if I wrote an Instagram post about it right then and there, I’d be like; here you go. It’s up. Right? So, by giving me some breathing room around it, I’m able to be more excited again. So I’m definitely on the opposite.

Now, one day when I have a personal Instagram and I’m talking about more of my whims and fancies, it will probably be a little bit more real time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I will say, to counterpoint also my own of the moment type of posting for our brand account through Balanced Bites; that is mostly planned. And the way that we do that is we typically have a structure where currently we’re planning which spice blend is the focus for the week. That kind of anchors things. Or which meal is the focus for the week. And then we always have wiggle room within that.

So let’s say we’re planning out 9 or 12 or 15 squares; there are always a few of those that are like a wildcard, ready for a repost or something like that. Where we can do something that’s more in the moment, because we like to use that as a moment to engage with our customers. And reshare their content that might be new.

And we also have some posts that we do plan, and then we plan to archive them. So it’s like; we’re getting that little announcement out, and it’s there. But then we archive it so it’s not sitting in the feed later to kind of muddy up what our whole visual goal is with the feed for people who might land on the account and they’re trying to decide whether or not they follow. That type of thing we do kind of swipe it away, and make sure our feed, in the history. You know, as you go back in the feed. It kind of have a vibe and a pattern.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. And I will say just to add on to this, and talking about enjoying the moment and maybe giving yourself some breathing room to edit videos and photos later, and word things differently. I think there’s merit to that, even when I’m doing something real time. Maybe I’m showing you what I packed in my overnight travel bag. I will; because I have life with a toddler, and a husband, and a very demanding business that requires a lot of my time, both Fed and Fit and my Beautycounter business. Sometimes I literally only have 5 minutes to film those videos. So I will film them in Instagram, save them, and then when I know I’ve got the hour to set aside to overly captions and to find all of the links for everything that y’all would want links for, then I set aside time to do that.

And, yes! My wording, the copy that I put over those videos, is better. It’s improved if I’ve given myself a little breathing room and I’m not rushed to get it up. If you’re at a family vacation, or a dinner out with your friends, and you run to the bathroom and you try to quickly post a photo because you want to get it up in the moment. It might feel a little rushed. I’m an advocate for save it and post it when your face is washed and you’re tucked into bed and you’re just trying to wind down for the day.

3. Listener Question: Planning ahead [20:14]

Cassy Joy: Next question. Drew Mama asks, “How do you plan ahead? Do you choose themes or topics?” What do you do, Diane?

Diane Sanfilippo: So this is a good one to piggy back off the previous question. And we talked about this on a previous episode, as well. I’m definitely someone who, on my personal account, I document versus create. So I don’t work from a plan on the Diane Sanfilippo account, if you follow me there.

If you follow; what we will be doing with Driven, which is taking us a little bit of time, but it’s coming. The Driven Podcast account will have more plans with some of that wiggle room; space for a repost or something like that. But what we do for Balanced Bites is definitely planned ahead, and there are themes and topics.

I think that’s a really helpful way to approach things, especially because the sense that I get from a lot of our listeners is that social media, knowing what to post; there’s just a lot of anxiety around it. And I think if you have a vibe, a theme, a topic, a central core idea to help anchor you, it can be really helpful. And I also find that for myself, it tends to help working with a team when you actually have an anchored concept or a theme for the week or whatever it’s going to be.

This way Niki, who manages the Balanced Bites account; she’s like, here’s what we’re doing this week. Or we can look ahead; we know what’s seasonal, etc. So that’s how we do it. And how we choose; we currently follow, ok we’ve got this rainbow of spices, and we just go one at a time, and we keep going through. So if you go to the Balanced Bites account, and you scroll back, you will see all of the enneagram spice posts. They’re all kind of blocked together, because we archived everything that went in between those. During those couple of weeks we shared more than that, but then we wiped them all out so that you would just see that together. But as you scroll back, you’ll notice there’s kind of a rainbow vibe to the feed, and you can find what you’re looking for that way.

I like that too, as a visual person. Look; Instagram is a visual medium. We are going to read content when we want to and when we need to. But I think if you talk about a few different topics. Let’s say you talk about healthy hormones. Let’s say you talk about the qualities in certain foods. And then let’s say you talk about family life. I like the idea of having those topics either have visuals that are consistently similar.

Maybe you choose a certain color theme for when you’re talking about healthy hormones. Maybe you have a color theme for when you’re talking about something else. For me, as a visual learner, and because Instagram is a visual medium, I think that helps people use your content better and engage with your content better. And start to know your posts before they can even see the handle. I think there is a lot of merit. And that is branding. Branding is not just a logo; branding is a look and a feel and an, “I know who that is before I see the name.” So I think there’s a lot to that, and that’s kind of how we work that when it comes to the Balanced Bites plan.

Cassy Joy: So, for planning ahead at Fed and Fit, my brain. I still don’t know exactly what to call it. But I’m learning that my brain works differently than Diane’s; just in us working on this podcast together. But I think in categories. And it’s much easier for me to produce content and categories.

Have you ever heard the phrase; actually I think it’s a book. Maybe it’s a phrase; a quote. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” And that is essentially what I deploy in my business at every turn. We will have a formula for everything that we do. But, it is so that then we can go in break the rules when it’s the right time. So it’s not like we live and die by these rules.

So, the way that we plan ahead on social media is with a formula on Mondays. Let’s say; I’m just going to make this up for you, because it’s not exactly. Ours is up in the air right now. But it could be, on every Monday, we share some sort of an inspirational quote. Right? So we find a quote and we write about it. Every Tuesday, we’re going to give you a breakfast recipe. And we’re going to try to teach you about breakfast. Every single Wednesday, we’re going to tell you a did you know. Like Bill Nye, the Science Guy; did you know that the volume of a dozen eggs is three cups? I made that up. But you know, that kind of fun fact. Every single Thursday, we’re going to share a dessert recipe. Every Friday we’re going to share a tip for meal prep. Every Saturday we’re going to share a cocktail.

So that kind of formula is how we plan ahead. So if we have this template; and you know your business best, if you’re not a food blogger and a safer living educator like I am, you can probably come up with your own categories. But I would do that. I would apply a category to the day of the week, and then start plugging in content. Planoly is a great place to do this; Asana is a great place to do this. And then once you have these ideas of content, then I would say go back through with that lens; that color branding lens that Diane is talking about, and see how you can really help control the visual experience.

But now; rolling back up to the previous question, this definitely falls into the planning versus documenting category. So if you’re like; nope. I sit firmly in the I want my Instagram to be a place where I document, not where I plan, then obviously this wouldn’t apply to you. Unless you’re like; here’s a category, what do I feel inspired by today on this Monday.

4. Listener Question: Managing time with social media [25:52]

Cassy Joy: Next question. Allie G Ski asks “How do you manage your time with social media? Both do such a great job of interacting and responding to people, posting to stories, etc. But does it ever feel like that takes over living your real life? I have two businesses with accounts that I want to be more interactive with my followers on, but it seems like when I try to implement, I end up spending so much time constantly checking in or making stories that I’m not present with what’s happening in my physical world. Thanks.”

So this for me boils down to time blocking. And this is how I’m able to do this. I’m actually; I don’t actually consume on social media. I really don’t. I have dear friends that live their lives on social media, and it makes me feel sometimes like a bad friend, but I’ve gotten over it. Because if I want to catch up with my friend Juli Bauer Roth, I just call her and say, “What’s new?” Even though she probably talked about it on Instagram, right? Same with Diane. I don’t consume on social media. So that’s one huge way that you can limit your time.

Now, if you are consuming for the sake of research to see what other folks are putting out, and you’re trying to gain inspiration in your category, there’s nothing wrong with that. But put a block on that time, and be really dedicated with it.

The time that I do spend on social media, I clean out my DMs twice a day. I wake up in the morning, and when my family is either out of the house, and I’m waiting for my team to show up is when I spend the time going through all of my direct messages. And I do; I answer every single one of them. And then at the end of the day, when Graysen goes to bed. I’ll go through and make sure I can answer everything before I go to bed. And sometimes I get through them all, and sometimes I don’t. But that’s just the way that I’m able to try to stay on top of it.

And then I post; when I’m actually posting, I just do it when it’s convenient for my life. But I think not consuming definitely cuts down a huge amount of time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And you know one thing I want to note about that is; engaging for the sake of growth is connection is different than consuming. And I definitely get caught in the consumption trap. I don’t have a family. I have a husband and fur kids, but not having kids gives me a lot more time. That’s just the bottom line. So when people are like; how do you spend so much time; I’m like, I don’t have children. Period. That’s it. There aren’t little humans asking for my attention. So I end up giving a lot more attention to those of you through social media. But I also then need to create a lot more boundaries around what happens with that.

But I think it’s important for people to audit their activity. And if they’re consuming and finding themselves into the Instagram rabbit hole versus thoughtfully and conscientiously engaging with posts; engaging with commenters and posts on other accounts where you think you might be able to gain some followers by dropping thoughtful comments. We talked about the six-figure chick recently somewhere else on the show. She has a 25 comment a day challenge, and that’s for people who are looking to grow. I have not taken the challenge, but I definitely know that she talks about; make thoughtful comment.

Really engage with people on other accounts that might be a similar audience if you want to go in and make a name for yourself and actually support people. Just going and liking or just saying “Yum” on a picture isn’t thoughtful engagement. So if you’re going to be spending the time, do it in a way that is purposeful and will have the result that you intended the whole time. It’s just you were not being intentional with what you were doing. Does that make sense?

Cassy Joy: Yes. I like that. And schedule it. If you are having a hard time it bleeding into other areas of your life; schedule it. I’m going to the coffee house at 9 a.m., and for the first 45 minutes, I’m going to really proactively engage on social media. You’re not just sit there and watch 27 people’s stories back to back without any response.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes. And if you’re a business owner, the way you need to be using Instagram is in an intentional, thoughtful, engaging way. And to your point, Cassy, about not just watching stories. What I’ll do for watching people’s stories; I’ll do that instead of watching TV. So it’s like; I know that if I’m going to do that, and I actually want to see what people are up to, or just see if there’s a new trend and a sticker or whatever it’s going to be. It’s not in the moment when I’m trying to use social media for the engagement, for the business aspect. So I think that is probably a good discernment that people need to make. You’re no longer just a regular person on social media. Right?

To that end, I also want to say; if you’re a business owner, which you probably are listening to this. Audit yourself the way that you engage with other accounts. Because now, you’re one of the people that needs to check yourself before you go asking other people a lot of questions that you should be answering for yourself.

So, if you want to make a good name for yourself in this community, in this space, don’t be one of the people who is basically pestering others on Instagram. Be helpful. Be answering comments in a positive way. Don’t steal thunder and steal someone’s ability to support their community. But I think when you start to be in a content creation mode, on a social media platform, you’ve got to switch the hat you’re wearing. You’re no longer there in the capacity that you were before. And I think a lot of folks who are listening; they’re currently shifting gears. And I know we have a question about this. Somebody had a question about not being good at social media. So that’s going to kind of bleed into this shift.

5. Listener Question: Hiring outside help with social media [31:43]

Cassy Joy: Well let’s read it first. Ok, S. F. Josie says, “I’m not really good at it, being social media. I have a hard time making engaging posts, so I just don’t do it. Should I hire help?”

Diane Sanfilippo: So, {laughs} this is something that I feel really strongly about. And I’m going to guess that most of you are on social media building a business that’s some kind of coaching business or it’s a personal business. Most of you are not here selling a widget for some other big company. Maybe you are. Maybe you’re like; I’ve been hired to do social media for Nike. Whatever. Probably not, listening to us. Maybe you are.

Here’s the thing you guys; this is your audience. These are your people. You’re trying to get in the room with these people. If you cannot connect with them, listen to them, and communicate with them; what are you building?

So, technology aspect aside, right? Learning the technology is honestly the easiest part. It will take you a couple of weeks of putting in effort. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to learn the technology of the way that people communicate today, you’re not an entrepreneur. You have to be willing to do this work. You don’t have to be an expert at every part of it. You have to be willing to try.

If my mom can learn how to comment on Instagram, and she’s not trying to run a business, you can learn how to comment on Instagram. If you’re trying to run a business, constantly pushing back at technology; nobody cares. Nobody is coming to save you. We’re not coming to tell you, it’s ok, you don’t have to do it. No, you have to do it. So does that mean you need to do an Instagram live every day and post 100 story clips? No. But, if you want to reach people outside of your local community; yeah, you have to do it.

And you just have to be a real person who is showing up. If coaching or working with people one on one is something you want to do, your people are right there. Just talk to them. I think people take what’s happening on social media in terms of really shiny, best practices, amazingly edited videos, and that becomes this perfection paralysis of; well, I can’t do that so I shouldn’t do it at all. Ok, well no one is going to start anything if that’s your mindset.

So, I want you to treat this like any other aspect of business. You’re trying to communicate with your people. Treating social media like anything other than a place to have a conversation is just not necessary. If you want people’s time and attention, do you think they want some other assistant posting for you and then answering for you? No. They want to talk to you. If you’re trying to teach them about healthy hormones; and I just keep using that as an example. It’s just one that keeps popping to mind. But if you’re going to make a post about healthy hormones, within a few minutes you’re still there if somebody comments and has a question, it should be you answering the question. And if you can’t take that time and give that attention, how can you expect other people to stop and pause and give you their attention. I don’t think that that’s a fair request, that you think you’re just going to throw this stuff out there and people are going to be excited about it when you’re not showing up for them.

So, I think no, that is not the approach. I think what you can get help with are the technical aspects. Have somebody show you how to do the basics. I promise you, the only way to learn is to do it. None of us were born knowing how to use Instagram. That’s just how it is. Sure, some of us are a little more inclined to pick things up quickly, and that’s great. We have maybe some natural talents in that way. You probably have natural talents that are totally different, and also viable and useful in this arena.

So you can get help with the technical aspects. You can get help learning what matters and what doesn’t in the tools. What you really should be focused on. Which ones to use, which ones to say; you know what? I don’t need to use that. How to type text and do all that. You can get help with; ok, here’s what I want to tell people. What’s maybe the best way to communicate that in a caption or in a photo. That type of direction. You can get help with strategies and hashtags. People don’t want perfection; they just want you. And they want you to be able to connect and help them.

So, yes, things that look a little bit cleaned up, it’s always helpful. It’s only helpful because it communicates better. It’s really just about communication.

Anyway, I’m not for someone else managing someone’s personal account. If you have a brand, what we do on the Balanced Bites account; I have somebody that manages that. It is a brand. I’m also there. I’m also commenting. I’m also engaging with people. They know that I’m going to see what’s there. But it is a bit separate. So that’s what I have to say about it.

I feel like if you’re not going to use social media and you’re not going to show up for it, then don’t show up for it. But don’t complain when you get left behind because you weren’t willing to do that work.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. I think; the thing that comes to mind in hearing this question is, I would ask yourself; are you afraid of being seen starting small? Because you said you’re not really good at it. You have a hard time making engaging posts, so you just don’t do it. So it probably means that you created some posts, they didn’t engage how you hoped, so you stopped. And I think that’s a fear of being seen starting small.

So I would just ask yourself that question. Scroll back through the Driven podcast episodes, because seeing starting small is actually an advantage, and it’s a luxury that you have to just grind through that. And then I agree with what Diane said.

I have actually, in the history of Fed and Fit, really, really wanted to outsource my social media. Especially around the time that I was publishing a book, revamping a program, having a baby, and hiring and expanding my team. Social media became this ugly frog on my to-do list. And I did. I outsourced it. And it was a huge mistake. It was a total waste of money. They didn’t know my brand. They didn’t know my voice. I wound up not using anything that they suggested, because it just wasn’t right. It’s not like; it wasn’t somebody on my team that I could have coached and worked with them on. They came and told me what to post, and even though it could have been just fine content, it’s not brand voice. It’s not where we’re at. It’s not where me as the creator was headed. So it was a total miss.

So don’t make that mistake. Even if you’re like; I’m at a stage in my business where I can and maybe I should do this; I still don’t think you need to. I would rather you pare down how often you share on social media. Share once a week, if you’re overwhelmed by it. Don’t outsource so that you can post once a day.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I also want to piggyback on what you said about the fear of starting small. We all start at zero. Except Jennifer Aniston; who broke the internet this week.

Cassy Joy: I saw that.

Diane Sanfilippo: She broke Instagram this week, because I remember, I tried to hit follow and it wouldn’t work. She literally had 10 million followers within 24 hours. But that’s Jennifer Aniston, right? So anyway. We all start at zero. And opportunities for work; opportunities for growth of your account, it’s not going to happen if you’re not showing up. If you don’t ever post, or the last time you posted was three months ago, but somebody’s eye was caught by your account and they’re like; oh. Somehow you commented somewhere and they go to your feed and the last time you posted was three months ago or six months ago or they’re just seeing it’s not a consistent thing, then people don’t assume that you’re looking for work. That you’re actually engaging. The type of thing you might get invited to speak on that panel, you’re not going to be invited to speak if you haven’t produced content in the last three to six months.

So those types of things are what open doors for these opportunities. And I think that recognizing that showing up for that content creation and for that presence is; it will happen. This whole world of actually opening up your business will happen. But it will never happen if you’re not showing up for it. And this is where we show up, if you want to be reaching people outside of your local community.

6. Listener Question: Growth versus engagement [40:30]

Cassy Joy: Next question. Oh, how do I say this? ESCULENT Health asks, “My audience is growing in story views but not in total number of followers. Is my content not engaging enough?” I really like that. I would say its too soon to tell, is my first gut reaction. I think if you’re gaining in story views, that means that your content is becoming more engaging. You’re engaging more of your current audience. So without being able to see your content and know more about your story, I would say that I think it’s too soon to tell. First you have to engage more of the people who are already there. Reward them more. And then the rest will come.

It’s kind of the field of dreams analogy; if you build it, they will come. you’re building better content, obviously. The folks who are currently there are watching more of what you’re doing. And if you keep spoiling those people and you keep providing them with enough to make them want to come back and view more of what you’re putting out there, then they will start to tell their friends about it. It’s the class 7-touch-points to a sale thing. It’s going to take repetition. It’s going to take you consistently showing them that you have quality content for them to consume. And then, once you reach that tipping point, they will start to share.

So it sounds like you’re on the right track. I wouldn’t adjust your strategy drastically.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I think from the tech, or number side of things, it can be happening for a few reasons. Sometimes there are just bot cleanouts, where accounts are dropped off of Instagram. Or you’re getting followers, but the growth is flat. That definitely happens for me. It’s very strange, and it’s almost eerily identical when I see the number of followers and unfollows Instagram is reporting to me. I think it’s a little fishy, to be honest. I’m like; really, how could it be that exactly 400 are following and unfollowing every week? It’s a little fishy to me. But it is what it is.

So you could be adding and losing at the same time, but your total count is flat. Does that make sense? Depending on the type of account you have; if you don’t have a creator account, you might want to convert to that so you can see more insights. You might not have those insights right now if you don’t have that type of account.

I will say that new followers are going to be better followers, in a sense. Because they’ve decided to engage with whatever it is you’re sharing right now. So keep delivering on stories. Because if you have story views increasing; this is a huge win. Because that is your best, most engaged audience, right? Story views is nothing but pure attention. Some people may or may not be listening, if they’re watching without sound. But I think roll with this, and as Cassy said, deliver for them. I think open a conversation and talk to them. Ask them what they want more of. Especially if you are the personality type that is open to doing that.

I sometimes ask, but I mostly don’t, because I know what my people want. I’m just not always in a space to want to give that. I don’t always want to do more cooking demos. I know it’s what people want. I know they will love it, and they will watch it. But I have my own whims, right? But if you’re trying to grow, and you ask people what do they want, and they say I want more cooking demos. I want more skincare demos. Give it to them. Who are you to not give them what they say they love that you do?

I think having something that is share-worthy or tag a friend-worthy is ultimately, to your point, Cassy; that’s what you do want in the longer term. But it’s going to take consistency. It’s going to take showing up. Because for us to tell someone; hey, I think you’ll like this person. Go follow them. It really takes the depth of consistency of saying; I feel good about telling my friend to follow this person, because I know that what’s going to be delivered on the other side of that is something consistent that I can count on.

Cassy Joy: Totally. Because they need it to be reliable.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

7. Listener Question: Pivoting with the algorithms [44:30]

Cassy Joy: Our last question of the day; Kristen Roberts asks, “Given the changes in algorithms across so many platforms, how do you pivot?”

Diane Sanfilippo: Mmm. I don’t really pivot. I stay the course. If I get the vibe that a certain aspect of the platform is helping growth or getting more reach than others; or it’s kind of new and I think I can lean into it, then I can work in that area. So for example, for me, live video is my space. I love being live, on camera, with an audience. Or live in a group with an audience. So as often as I can, or am willing to, I’m going to go live. Then what I’m going to do is have my video editor cut clips out and we’ll load those to IGTV. We know that video content is really sort of king. But it’s difficult. It’s difficult to get, and I don’t do well with a polished, planned, scripted video. It is just not my gold, I’ll say.

And I can’t even really do it where I just turn the camera on and talk. I have to know there’s energy on the other side of it. Somebody who is there picking up what I’m putting down. So I think ultimately that’s part of it, is knowing what is the thing that you are good at delivering. And I also want to tell people; we’ve talked about this on the show several times before. But delivering your content in the platform is important.

So, whatever the platform is; I think many years ago with Facebook, one of the big things a lot of us did was linking to blog recipes. Where we would have the pretty photo, and the title, and there’s a little excerpt. And we write a little blurb. But we’re basically trying to get people to link out from Facebook. That’s kind of the way that we did a lot of things back then.

But recognizing that you will never go wrong with providing value and content. We’ll say this until we’re blue in the face. And; the platform wants to keep people in the platform. It wants to keep people in the matrix, you know? So if you’re delivering inside the platform. And I know, specifically, Kristen, she blogs about legal issues, right? And a lot of times, those posts need to be longer. You can’t write it all in one post on Instagram, maybe. But I think delivering the core message and then just letting people know where to get more. Letting people know they can opt in for something really focusing on who your ideal customer is, and what they might want to give you their email for.

But delivering; instead of just saying, here’s the new law. Or here’s a new food, or a new product that people are curious about. Don’t refer someone to a blog post on it. Tell them about it right there on Instagram. So when it comes to that algorithm changing, it’s irrelevant. We’re still going to stay the course. We’re still going to deliver the content.

And again, I’m repeating myself on this. Accounts I see with rapid growth, despite whatever people think about algorithms not showing things, they’re the people who are delivering in-platform content. They’re not asking people or inviting them to a second location. They have an option for that. They’re not ignoring that that is an important part of this business. But we can convert those people; but if we want the eyeballs and we want that attention, we have to deliver high value and exchange for something like an email address. But I think we can deliver high value right there in the platform.

So the only way I would say pivoting is going to work is if there is a new tool, and you feel like you can deliver in that new tool, then go for it. If you don’t think you can deliver with video content, don’t bust up everything you’re doing to just hop on it. I think the shiny object element of it; it feels exciting. But ultimately what won’t work is that you’ll be inconsistent with it. Because consistency in delivering is going to be so important.

So that’s kind of what I say about that. I really don’t worry about the algorithms that much. I’m just trying to deliver what I want and need to deliver. And ultimately hoping that that is what connects with people. And if it’s not, then there will be different people eventually that it will connect with.

Cassy Joy: I agree. This actually came up on this panel that I was at; the Next Big Bite. And my take was very similar; a lot of folks are very focused on essentially hacking new social media platforms. Let’s say TikTok for example for the Gen Zs. Not that we’re necessarily going to be producing content. I’m not going to be doing a recipe demo on TikTok. That’s not what the app is made for. Or why they are there. But it’s a way you could learn about the audience. Earn their trust by giving them what they’re looking for there. And then in three years, when they’re ready to start cooking recipes, they know and associate your brand as one they know and trust.

Although that makes sense, and what I said on stage is, I disagreed with kind of everybody’s stance on it. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of my time worrying about that stuff. It kind of falls into the bonus, 5%, fun category of where I build my time. And the same goes with how I handle changes in algorithm. I give it 5% of my attention. 95% of my attention is on how do I solve problems for my readers? And how do I spoil them rotten.

And spoiling them rotten also means, like Diane is saying; if they’re on Instagram, how do I give them what they want on Instagram? If they’re on my website, how do I give them what they want on my website? And realizing that those are two different audiences. I think if you just focus; like she’s saying, just to summarize. If you focus on providing solid content in the ways that you know you can do consistently. I don’t do IG live because I just cannot right now. But when the time comes that I have the space for it, we’re going to start doing it. I will do Instagram stories all the time. I will do posts once a week. And I will consistently give people a great place to show up; and I’m not worried about the algorithm.

If something crazy happens to the algorithm to the point; if I notice a significant difference in my engagement and I haven’t changed my behavior, I haven’t changed the quality of resources I’ve been putting out, then I might get onto Google and see what’s going on. But it’s not until that point, so I try not to be an alarmist about it, either.

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8. Tip of The Week: Spacing your copy on Instagram [51:41]

Cassy Joy: Closing out today’s episode with our Tip of The Week. In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on right away to move your business or life forward. So Diane and I were actually chatting about answering a couple of the other questions that had come through, and one of them was around spacing in your Instagram posts. So it’s so interesting; it’s one of those things, when you learn something new, I’m guilty of this. When I learn something new, I just assume everybody else already knows. {laughs} I’m probably the last person to learn this thing; I don’t need to go shout it out from the rooftops. But I struggled with it for a long time, and it bears saying. Because it’s come up in a couple of questions.

But, when you’re looking at your Instagram posts. If you wanted to have paragraphs, if you will, in your copy, in your caption. Or if you’re posting a recipe, speaking of keeping people on the app. You have a recipe you want to share on Instagram, and you want to keep your ingredient chunk of list separate from your direction list; you want a total space between the two, you can do that by just pressing enter on the app now. I don’t know that it was an update that Instagram ran, or if it was something else that happened. You used to have to put a period or a hashtag or some other weird symbol. As long as you don’t have a space after the last period of the last sentence of the previous paragraph, or any sort of a weird character. As long as there is no space or weird character, all you have to do is press enter, enter, and you can do another line. And you don’t have to do anything wonky. So that’s my really quick tip.

And then, there were other questions about hashtag spacings. I would just like to tell you; the latest research I’ve done; again, 5% of my time is spent hacking social media. But putting hashtags in a comment, that was the old way of thinking about hashtags. But that’s actually not advantageous. What you want to do is you want to keep your hashtags varied, and it’s more advantageous to put them in the copy of your main caption, don’t put them in a comment.

So I would say if you have a campaign hashtag; like if you’re working on 30 days with Carl. If that’s your campaign hashtag, it’s something that you’re branding, I would float that right up to the tippy top of your copy on the caption. “On today’s 30 days with Carl, we’re talking about water consumption.” You want that to be at the very top. And then I would give yourself a few space breaks, so it’s a visual break for your reader. They don’t have to read them all. And then I would copy and paste your bank of hashtags. I don’t know off the top of my head, but there’s a maximum number of hashtags.

Diane Sanfilippo: 30.

Cassy Joy: It’s 30? That they would allow you to do. I definitely wouldn’t do more than that. And I would definitely keep them varied and keep them current. And don’t just target #healthy. Right? I would definitely target #healthymencooking. Something that has a smaller amount of activity that really those are going to be your people. So that’s how you would do it. And again, you would just press enter. You don’t have to have a crazy special tool.

Diane Sanfilippo: I validated that just now, editing an older post. And it works.

Cassy Joy: Woo-hoo!

Diane Sanfilippo: Wo-hoo! We did it! 

Ok that’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, and how could you not? Be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @DrivenPodcast. Cassy is @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo. And also find my brand @BalancedBites.

Tune in next week; we’ll be kicking off a whole new Driven miniseries.