Episode #52: How to grow your presence on social media

In today’s episode, we’re talking about how to GROW (your presence, reach, and authority) on social media (and/or your blog). We’ll wrap up with a weekly actionable tip!

Diane Sanfilippo: Disrupting that process and that thought pattern or that behavior pattern; it makes people share the post. If I write something about boundaries, it gets shared the most. And I haven’t had the same type of explosive growth on social media, but I can tell that the depth of connection of my followers is totally different than it was.

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: In today’s episode, we’re talking about how to grow your presence, reach, and authority on social media, and your blog.


  1. What’s on my plate [1:09]
  2. Shop Talk: Growing your reach online [23:29]
  3. Take a stand, show your voice [31:01]
  4. Thoughtful, not rant-y [38:17]
  5. Tip of The Week: Brainstorm your perspective [53:39]

1.  What’s on my plate [1:09]

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives for the week. And Cassy, what are you drinking over there? Cheers! We both have icy {blink} clinky glasses of a beverage.

Cassy Joy: I am sipping on; we’re recording early afternoon. I’m sipping on an iced unsweet green tea.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm.

Cassy Joy: It is delightful. I got it at Costco, because Costco will deliver now, and you don’t have to have a membership for Instacart delivery of Costco.

Diane Sanfilippo: Stop it.

Cassy Joy: Oh yes. Life changing. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m taking notes; excuse me. Because my Costco membership did expire. But if I could go to Costco without going to Costco, or having the membership. I mean, literally. I’m sorry. My brains just fell out.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, I’m writing this down. Instacart. I’m sorry. Proceed.

Cassy Joy: It’s fabulous. And what I find myself doing; because, obviously, Costco doesn’t have everything that I need. Doing an order from Costco once every two weeks and then our normal grocery store about twice a week. Because, my 2-year-old will eat berries just; she’s a bottomless pit for berries. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} I hear that.

Cassy Joy: It’s just incredible.

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re just so popable and fun.

Cassy Joy: They are. And gosh darn it, the way that she says raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry is the cutest thing on earth. I feel like I just pull them out of the refrigerator so I can hear her say it. She calls strawberries; she has her own word for them. She calls them dee-daws {laughs}. So; when someone’s like, what does she want? I’m like, that’s strawberries, but it doesn’t sound like it {laughing}.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s really sweet.

Cassy Joy: So; dee-daws. {laughs} Oh goodness. Yeah, so that’s one thing I’m doing. I was going to tell you; I was going to surprise you with this. I didn’t even put it on our show notes. Last night I made chicken; a chicken pasta dinner. And I used the Super Onion Balanced Bites blend. Y’all.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: That Super Onion blend and chicken breast; just chicken breast, are a match made in foodie heaven. It was so good. So what I did; because I think you might ask. I put bacon fat in the pan. We have a jar of bacon fat.

Diane Sanfilippo: Always a good decision.

Cassy Joy: Always bacon fat. When we make bacon, it goes in a jar next to my stove. I go through it pretty fast, I’m not worried about it like that. And I put a few tablespoons of that in a skillet, and I seasoned two chicken breasts super liberally. Very; like, you couldn’t see a piece of the meat that was not covered by seasoning. Put it in a hot pan, turned the heat down so I got a crisp, and then I let it cook. And then I seared it on the other side. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, and then cut it up and put it in pasta. It was the most delicious thing ever.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. I love when my friends who are recipe developers just enjoy using the spice blends as much as I do. Because we’re not really the target market.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know what I mean? We’re so into just our own flavorings. But I think with some of those blends, it’s like; well, this is kind of what I would do.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I appreciate that so much. And just; I feel so heart-warmed that I’m in your kitchen with you. I feel like I’m feeding you dinner when I’m there in my spices. That is just; I’m tearing up a little.

Cassy Joy: Aww.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s my favorite thing. I love it so much.

Cassy Joy: That’s so sweet. They’re great spices. I mean, I would buy; if you sold ice cubes I would buy them, Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: But that’s because I love you. But they’re really delicious, too. I mean, they really are. We were saying this, I think, before you pressed record. But the quality of the ingredients makes a huge difference. And I just know that any of those blends are going to be really high quality. The onion is really good and flavorful. It’s just fabulous. So I’m a big fan.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well thank you.

Cassy Joy: You’re welcome.

Diane Sanfilippo: Thank you for that impromptu little commercial for Balanced Bites spices.

Cassy Joy: Any time. Any time. {laughs} So speaking of Costco and food, also on the personal front, I’m a bit smoothie obsessed right now. And I’ve got to say; I am not a smoothie person. I have never been a smoothie person. I’ve always been a, “I want a giant plate of food.” If you’re going to stuff two cups of greens and fruit and a healthy fat and all of these things; a little protein, I want to see it on a plate. That has always been my bit. I want to see it on a plate; I want to chew it up. That feels very fulfilling to me.

And there’s something that has happened with the stars shifting, and another baby in our lives, that I started dabbling in a green smoothie occasionally. Because it hit me, in hindsight, after my second pregnancy; I still ate really well by all comparison. That wasn’t necessarily standard American diet, but I was not as high on the veggie and fruit front as I maybe would have been normally. Maybe it was stress, or my body was just really craving other kinds of foods; other kinds of macros. And so, the pendulum finally swung back the other way. I was like; oh my gosh, I want all the micronutrients possible from all the colors of the rainbow.

So I started off with just a smoothie to bump it up. And now I’m having them several times a day. I’m really, really loving it.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. Well, someone we’re going to talk about later is a big smoothie person. So maybe we’ll discuss that.

Cassy Joy: Yes, I’d love to know more. And I get it now. I kind of used to; I don’t know. I hope you don’t feel personally attacked, anybody listening that loves smoothies. But I always thought it was silly. I always thought smoothies were a little bit silly. I don’t know; I just didn’t get it. I get it now. They’re delicious. You can get all those nutrients. I feel very full. And I’m not tempted to just keep eating, eating, eating.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love a smoothie. But, unless it’s the right balance, it messes up my blood sugar even when I do balance it really well. So it’s a really tricky thing for me to figure out.

Cassy Joy: That makes a lot of sense.

Diane Sanfilippo: But I do love a smoothie. Because I love a cold treat. And they have to be really thick. Like a watery smoothie to me; I’m like, that was pointless. No.

Cassy Joy: I want; if my biggest metal straw; I want to have to use that one. No little metal straw.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: For a not sweet green smoothie, a zucchini. A fresh, organic, raw zucchini is a really great add because it really makes it nice and smooth and creamy.

Diane Sanfilippo: Frozen?

Cassy Joy: I’ve been using them fresh.

Diane Sanfilippo: Just straight up.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. I have a Vitamix, so I have a really powerful blender. And I’ve been using fresh spinach, a, whole raw zucchini, and a little avocado, and then protein powder or water of your choice with ice; to your point, because I want it to be really cold. And it blends beautifully.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve definitely heard of people doing frozen zucchini, too. So that’s a good one for people who might need; or listen. We could go on.

Cassy Joy: We could. Sorry. We’re talking about food. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I have a lot of questions.  Forget it. I need to stop myself. Anyway.

Cassy Joy: We’ll talk about; maybe one day I’ll launch a smoothie business. So the other thing that’s going on on the actual work front is; my team is, it feels like we’re finally coming back together. Me from maternity leave. One of my key team leaders from essentially a short term medical leave. And we are able to get together a little bit safely, responsibly, in our physical office. And it’s so exciting. But there’s something that happens now that we’re like; the bands back! We have a bunch of levers and we want to pull them all at once. Right? Because now it feels like we have this much bigger capacity to do all these things. And we do. And what I’m learning is; because that has always been my style, I’ve set that tone to just go, go, go, go. And what I’m learning is that my next stage of personal development as the leader of this team is to essentially slow the pace down.

And what a great problem to have. Right? What a great problem to have for a team of people who are so motivated and moving so fast because they care and they want to produce. And for me to jump in and be like; I want to, let’s put a pause on this, and wait 2 weeks before we publish this thing that I know you think is perfect right now. Because it probably is. But we have to put all these other things into order.

So it falls into this category and this mantra of go slow to go fast. You know; we need to go. And it feels counterintuitive, because we get caught in this; I almost want to trip into my roles and my responsibilities. And every day you just feel like you’re on the wheel; the hamster wheel. And I don’t want that life for my team. I don’t want that life for me. I want to be able to schedule two weeks out.

So the summertime is a great time to do it. And I’m saying this in case any of you need this freedom for yourselves. If you constantly feel like you’re playing catchup. It’s ok to just say; hey, you know what? I’m going to take two weeks off. But not really. I’m going to take two weeks off of publishing, and build content for two weeks. And make sure everything is buttoned down. Everything talks to each other. Like we’ve said on previous episodes; having Instagram stories coordinate with what’s showing up on the feed, and our wall to coordinate with what’s showing up on the website and newsletters and promotions we’re doing. Like, it’s a bunch of things to orchestrate.

So, that’s where I’m at right now. Which is neat. I’ve traditionally been a bottleneck, but now I’m actually intentionally being a bit of a bottleneck.

Diane Sanfilippo: Here, here. I don’t know if I talked about that last week or a couple of episodes ago, but 100%. I think part of what I’m realizing for me; I think we talked about this, because I’m so excited for you to be in an office, and I love watching the renovation. And I’m like; oh, that’s so great to have desks together. But I’m like; I know myself so well. And I don’t know if I would be able to pump the brakes as well. Maybe if we were in person, versus remotely. But I think for me having people remotely keeps me from overstepping and over expecting. It helps me remember that they need to live a life as well as work. And that, even though, as the entrepreneur, this is always going to be what I live and breathe. To some degree, of course, they live and breathe it as well. The people on my team are so committed, and loyal, and just amazing. But pumping the brakes; I think that’s a big lesson that has come out of this whole pandemic.

Cassy Joy: I agree.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s like; we want everyone to have that grace and to be able to breathe and to live life and work, so that we’re not just creating work. That it’s meaningful, and people want to do it, and they’re able to move at a pace that feels doable. You know what I mean? We’re so driven, that we can drive things too fast all the time. So I love that you’re having that same. We’re totally simpatico on that. Yes, we need to slow it down. Because, then when someone takes a break for a week, it’s ok. Maybe they slowed down and got ahead. And that’s exactly what we’re doing right now, too. Where Niki on my team is going to be on a break, and she does our email every Sunday. That email that comes out. And she runs social media for Balanced Bites. So I’ll be taking over the Balanced Bites social, but she plans the email ahead so that it’s just there. And we’re finally working ahead. So totally with you.

Cassy Joy: And it makes me think; sorry to interrupt and drag this out further. But I just had a realization. So I’m an Enneagram 3, which are known as the Achievers. And it’s almost; it’s a part of the reason why this tone exists, of go, go, go, go, go. Because that’s just kind of how I’m wired. You and I have that in common.

But with my team, it’s almost still something to achieve. If I’m thinking about how my brain is working; for them to feel fulfilled and balanced and not overworked and excited about work and refreshed on a daily basis, is something that is achievable and is something to be achieved. So I think that is a pursuit. So it’s so funny; a good tempo of work is something that can be pursued. I think that’s how I get my brain to be excited about it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think for me, also, as an Enneagram 8 and just my personality in general and what I’m observing of myself and with the team is that the thing they all want to do the most is to meet and/or exceed my expectations. And it’s nearly impossible for any of us, because they are always exceedingly high. Even for myself. I just; that’s something that I’m trying to manage; not lowering my expectations, but just making sure that I’m setting my expectations to be achievable and to give people the space to do that. Because otherwise, how deflating. Right?

And I get it. I’m my own worst critic. Nothing is ever good enough for me. But at the same time, I’m like; eh. Publish. It’s so weird. Its this weird balance. And we’re the same way, right? We both have that. Go ugly early, we’ll do it. And at the same time, we’re constantly in the pursuit of better. Always, always, always.

But yeah. I think for me; and I think this is probably something similar for you, as well. It’s like; our teams just want to deliver for us. They’re such great people and they want to do that. So if we don’t set them up for success in that way, then we’re not really setting the expectations well so that it gives them a chance to meet and exceed them. So that’s kind of my perspective. Because I’ve stumbled on that, too. I’ve stumbled in my feedback delivery, and it’s something that I’m constantly working on. And very self-reflective on, as well. Like; hey, maybe I need to manage the way I give this feedback. Which is challenging. But at the same time.

Anyway. So. Yes. Ok, so personal; I’m fangirling over a new Instagram follower! {laughs} Today.

Cassy Joy: Who is it?

Diane Sanfilippo: Leah Remini. I’m like, not a fan of that many people in general. I’m not a celebrity lover.

Cassy Joy: Really!?!?

Diane Sanfilippo: Really, that I’m not a celebrity lover?

Cassy Joy: No, no, no. Leah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah! I’m so obsessed with learning about Scientology; I think they call it the business of belief. I’m so obsessed with human nature and behavior and thought patterns and why we do what we do. And so then this idea of cults, and very specifically Scientology because I’m so fascinated by it. By the cult aspect, and the whole thing. I mean, it’s mind blowing.

But also, I feel like if Leah Remini is not an Enneagram 8, I don’t know what the world is. Because she is like, the 8 of all 8s. The Justice Seeker. The no-BS. So I am such a huge fan. I was on the dog walk this morning like; “Honey! Look who’s following me! Oh my god!” {laughs} I just lost it.

Cassy Joy: You have been talking about her for years. I don’t know if you remember this, but when we were on the book tour together that we shared, I remember; you were telling me all about it. You got me into her book and her show.

Diane Sanfilippo: Her book? Her audio book?

Cassy Joy: No, it was a different documentary at the time. Because I don’t know if her show was out yet.

Diane Sanfilippo: Going Clear.

Cassy Joy: Yes. Going Clear.

Diane Sanfilippo: This is like; I don’t have a lot of hobbies, but this is definitely one of them {laughs}.

Cassy Joy: It was late one night, and we were hanging out. And you were like; do you want to watch this? So we watched it together. {laughs} It was so late. Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m a weird influence.

Cassy Joy: So fun.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m not like hey, do you want to do this bad for you thing? I’m like; hey, do you want to learn about this craziness? I just got Michelle Tam to download Troublemaker; Leah’s book. Because the audiobook; I’m such a huge fan of actors reading their own audiobooks. Tina Fey’s is phenomenal. But I think Leah’s audiobook; I’m just obsessed with it. So anyway. Huge fan. And I’m just not a fan of that many people. But I think it’s because people are kind of doing the one thing and don’t share. I like seeing how their life has evolved. I like learning about all these different things.

So anyway, super fangirling about that. And what else? I mean. Eh. Listen, What’s on My Plate is a legit segment of ours. We’re trying to talk business here. {laughs} So the ups and downs of business during COVID; let me tell you. The kind of anxiety I have when I watch people post on social media; which I love. Right? An unboxing, where there are three or four jars, and two of them are the wrong-shape jar. And I want to poke my eyes out. Because I’m like; oh. My. Gosh. This just; nails on a chalkboard. Whatever the most upsetting thing for you to experience in terms of a visual situation. Just seeing these jars that are wrong.

And it turns out; we don’t fill tens or hundreds of thousands of jars. We might fill tens of thousands. We don’t fill hundreds of thousands of jars. So we don’t always get to order in a certain way to get jars that are like this huge, huge quantity. So sometimes there’s a middleman. This is what I’ve learned from my copacker. They have to get these jars in slightly smaller quantities. And they all say the same total weight that it can hold. They hold a liquid 4 ounces. They hold about 2 ounces in spices. And lo and behold; it’s like kitchen glasses. You have glasses that hold 8 ounces, and you open the cabinet and there are three different types. And they all hold the same amount.

Well, these jars all hold the same amount, and they all have the same screw top fitting. But the shape of them is a little different. And it just drives me crazy. Because for me, my brand is very visual. I mean, you know that by the labels. And look; I think probably 80% of people will never even notice. But the first one that I picked up that was wrong; I was like W. T. F. Is this? Who…? I’m cracking skulls!

Cassy Joy: Who? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Who. Oh, you. I see. I get your references. But yeah. I was livid. And then I calmed down. I was like; alright. These are limited edition. Oh my gosh, if the original 12 have jars that are like that, I’m definitely going to lose my mind. And I think I’ve seen some from the original batches that were filled.

But. We got it sorted out. You know; got on the phone with my copacker, and she gets it. That this is really important to me. The jar matters. And I need the people who are packing them; because it’s done by humans. It’s not on this huge mechanized line. Like a human person picks up the jar, puts it on the scale, fills it with the appropriate weight. Gets it labeled, etc., etc.

Anyway, you know. These are little things, and for some people, it might not seem like a big deal. But listen; I was battling bubbled labels for years. You’ve seen it; every time you try and smooth it and it gets worse. And that got better with the smaller jars. And there are still a couple of bubbles here and there, but I notice it on other brands, as well. Just out there in the marketplace. So I’m like; ok this isn’t unique to me and the situation we have. So I feel better about that.

But these little details really matter, because inconsistency in my packaging; that’s just not ok for me. So I had to talk myself down and just kind of chill out and say ok; we’ll get this figured out. And we did. So moving forward it will be ok. But that was a real thing for me.

And I did; I made a social media post where I’m talking about raising the standard and creating a new standard. And that’s part of it. Something as seemingly little as we need consistent jars; I know that seems so obvious, but I would have never thought that that would be an issue. That would even come up. You wouldn’t think you’re buying this item for X amount of months and then suddenly the jar changes. I’m like; why does it change? Did someone mean to do that, or was it an accident? Anyway.

So if you are someone who is like; I did kind of wonder why this one is a little shorter, or whatever. And actually I think the fill looks different. And that upsets me, too, because then the customer is going to feel like they’re not getting what they were supposed to get. But they’re filled to the weight that’s on the label, not of volume. Anyway.

Listen. These are the details that when you own a business no one else will notice the way that you do.

Cassy Joy: That’s true.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. I think the last thing I’ll mention today, and I’ll save some of these other notes for next week. We do have a video editor position open again. It just seems like; we had someone fill it for a short period of time. It just wasn’t the right fit. It wasn’t going to be right fit longer term. So that position is open. I’m going to be making a bit of a concerted effort to do some outreach in some new places for people to potentially fill that role. I’m mentioning it here because, if you know someone who is a video editor with about 2-5 years of experience, great. Let us know. But you can check out www.balancedbites.com/jobs and we will have the job posting there.

2.  Shop Talk: Growing your reach online [23:29]

Cassy Joy: Shop Talk. In this segment, we discuss topics that are related to business and entrepreneurship that are on both our minds and yours. Today we’re talking about how to grow your presence and your reach and your authority online. Whether that’s social media or your blog.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love this topic. I shot this one over to Cassy in a text message because I was thinking; as I’m watching more and more people put themselves out there on social media, start a blog. I was thinking to myself; how is it that somebody can stand out from the crowd? Because there are a lot of health coaches. There are a lot of small businesses that might be doing slightly similar things. A lot of consultants in different direct sales companies, etc.

And I definitely am thinking about this from the perspective of someone who is going to be a content creator. And I don’t mean that in the sense of a social media poster. Not somebody who says; I’m going to be an influencer. Maybe there will be a day where the way that I view deciding to be “an influencer” is less judgey. Because I’m currently very judgey about that. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} I hear you.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I reserve the right to change my mind. But I’m currently still very judgey about that. But that’s because I think that there needs to be depth beyond just deciding you’re going to influence people and what to do. There has to be a reason for it.

So, in this idea of; let’s say you’re on social media and you’re talking about health and wellness. Or you’re talking about mom life. Or you’re talking about the intersection of handling being a widow. Whatever it is. You’re talking about multiple things, and chances are you’ve got something that you also want to sell. Because, how are you going to monetize what you’re doing there.

Then it becomes; how do you stand out? Because otherwise, if you don’t have this moment or this point of view or this topic that you can stand out on; how do you grow? How do you differentiate yourself? How do you stand out from the rest? And why do more people exponentially want to follow you? What will make them want to follow you, when there are so many people out there?

And I know that’s on people’s minds. I know that’s a fear. That’s a huge fear. It’s like; well, why would anyone care to follow me? Yes. Good question. Why would they care to follow you? Right? And even that might evolve over time, why people followed me 5, 6 years ago is going to be different than why they follow now. That’s ok.

Anyway. So I was thinking about Noelle Tarr. So this came up; I don’t know who I was watching create an account. I was like; ok, they’re starting out here. What are they doing? I was thinking; what is it that makes someone come from seemingly left field. Not necessarily. That doesn’t mean the person wasn’t blogging for a long time or putting in the work. And chances are, you will be putting in the work for quite some time before you’re going to have the moment where you do something that actually does help you really grow. You can’t just have 9 squares put up and then try and catapult yourself. You need to prove yourself. You need to do the work.

But I remember when Noelle Tarr; she’s at Coconuts and Kettlebells. She wrote a blog post that’s called I don’t want 6-pack abs. And that; everyone was shook. As the kids say.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean literally; that post went viral. And at the time; I’m looking at the stats on it that she has here. It has 32,000 shares on her site. And maybe there are some websites where that’s not a lot of shares, but to me that would be a ton of shares. Hundreds of tweets, hundreds of pins. And this was many years ago. I don’t know if there is a date on the post, but I remember it was, this looks like January 2015. So at least 5 years ago.

And I remember that put her on my radar. I didn’t know who she was before this post. Or maybe I loosely knew that she was studying nutrition and was in our sphere. But until there was this piece of content that was her just getting out there and getting in front of people. And saying something that, not only was vulnerable. Was true. That I felt kind of seen by, personally. And I thought it was brave of her to do it. And I was just like; ok. That’s it. This is her drawing her line in the sand of; yes, I talk about fitness. Yes, I talk about nutrition. And I’m going to say something that’s a little unpopular. But at the same time, I know a lot of people are going to relate to this, and it just needs to be said. Here we go.

So that’s kind of what made me think; what is it about that type of content? Is it vulnerable? Is it a point of view that is unique, or surprising, or refreshing? Is it polarizing? A lot of what I did early on was a bit polarizing or just really a counterpoint to the mainstream.

So for example; you and I were talking about this before we started recording. But in the early days of paleo education, a lot of people were freaking out about bacon. Do you remember this?

Cassy Joy: I do.

Diane Sanfilippo: It was like; you need to be eating nightshade. Nightshade free; oh my gosh. {laughs} You need to be eating nitrate free bacon, nitrates this, nitrates that. And I was like; to quote Cassy, “Y’all.” {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Just kidding. I was like, “Y’all need to calm down about the nitrates.” Because when you think you’re getting nitrate free, they’re using celery salt. And the amount of naturally occurring nitrates in celery salt is the same; it’s just marketing. So yeah, great. Use a natural form. I’m all for it. But this nitrate free; you’re all falling for something that’s totally irrelevant to the conversation. And that’s not even the main point of how to purchase your bacon, having any kind of impact on health. You want to buy pastured bacon and feel better about that than kind of convention; cool. Go for it. But everyone is focusing on the wrong thing.

So I really stood up for that. I still stand for it. Because there are still people who go crazy about trying to use nitrate free as this marketing point. This selling point. So, anyway. That was one thing.

And then another thing I remember I used to talk about a lot was cooking fats. And I was definitely super anti-olive oil as a cooking fat. And it’s definitely not my first choice now for most things. But I’ve come around on that point of view. And I’ve reeducated other people on how I see that. But at the time, it was a really surprising point of view. I was like; hey, this is very low in saturated fat. High in monounsaturated. And I think we should be cooking mostly with saturated fats. And I still stand for that. But again, evolving that over time is fine.

So I think part of it is having a really strong point of view on something that is founded in your experience, your expertise, your education, etc. And being willing to take a stand for something that you feel really strongly about.

3. Take a stand, show your voice [31:01]

Cassy Joy: I love that. I’m looking; I finally found it. I’m looking back. So, my business; when Diane brought up this topic for the call today, it took me a minute to get on the same page. And then I really clearly understood what she was saying. Because I know, some of us get hung up in wanting to; we think that we need the currency as value. Valuable content. If I just give them a recipe, is that not value? If I give them a lesson learned on a skincare product, is that not value?

And yes, that’s fine. That will satiate people’s hunger to follow you, if they are already following you. But if you want to broaden your reach. If you want to attract more people. And if you want to give your readers, or your followers, an excuse to say; hey neighbor, you need to follow this person. Give them a reason to talk about you. You don’t just want to satisfy their hunger for content for them to say; oh yeah, that was decent content that I scrolled past on Instagram, for example.

These are the things that you give them a reason to really shout your content from the rooftops. And I probably; my cadence on this is, it’s what my brain can handle. But I probably float one of these things out there; it’s not planned. It’s hardly ever intentional. It usually comes out because I’m going to burst if I don’t say it. You know. And for me, I made notes. I was like, this was the thing; I don’t know what the heck I would talk about. It’s the thing that is the burr in your saddle. I don’t know if that’s an expression people not in Texas use. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m with you.

Cassy Joy: Ok good. It’s the thing that’s just bugging you. And maybe you’re not ready to write a thesis on it. But you do want to talk about it. You want to open the conversation, right? That’s usually how I get to these kinds of talking points. It’s something that is bothering me about the way a conversation is being had. A perspective. A distinction that I want to make in the world that I feel is maybe a blind spot for folks who are just following along. For example; cooking with olive oil, like Diane was saying. That’s like; the light just got turned on, or clicked on, on a perspective of something that somebody may not have had. Or, of course, a challenge that you have personally overcome. That’s another great opportunity to show some vulnerability.

A very recent example of this that I did was talking about giving birth during a pandemic. It bugged me. It really, really bugged me that there was so much fear. Not that I want to deny other people’s fear around giving birth in a pandemic. Your feelings and your perspective is your own, and I would never ask you to change it. But putting those fears on me and my experiencing and asking me to feel them and recognize them from my own experience. And that really, really irritated me. And what I have to do is I probably sit with something like that for several weeks. Because if you guys hear me when I have a burr in my saddle the day of, it’s not cute. {laughs} It’s like; it’s not very eloquent. It would not uplift anybody. And those are two filters that I really want to always run my content by. How can this be eloquent, and can this be used to uplift someone?

So I sit on it. And I take my time. And I share my thoughts as eloquently and uplifting as possible. And then I did. I shared about why I’m comfortable giving birth in a pandemic. Right? Is this ideal? Absolutely not. Did I have grieving to do? Absolutely.

Diane Sanfilippo: Did you plan it this way? Obviously not.

Cassy Joy: Obviously not. And is there any perfect decision? No. And, am I ok and happy and comfortable and positive and really excited about this? Yes. It’s ok to hold those two things at once. And that was the distinction in the world that I wanted to make. It’s ok for this to be imperfect and to hold nothing but pure joy and excitement for it at the same time. Right? So that was something that I wanted to bring as a conversation.

Another big burr in my saddle that I brought up a while ago that I think got; in a lot of ways, it got shared more than any post I have ever written in my life, and I never thought that would happen. I posted a picture; hang on, I’ll tell you the date of it, so that in case anybody is curious. It was December 16, 2018 on Fed and Fit. So at that time, I probably had 40,000 followers, I think, somewhere around there, on Instagram. 40-60 if I had to guess. And it got 7000 likes, over 400 comments. And that’s fine. But the real value was the fact that I can’t tell you how many people shared this in their own feed and on their own stories as; these are words that I didn’t have. This is something I wanted to say.

It was a picture of me, topless (which I’ve never done before, or since.) I’m wearing the not cute nursing bra that I got at Soma, holding Grayson; she was 9 months old at that time. I have a towel on my head. Anyway; I’m just talking about, what was bugging me in the world at that point in time. There was this huge swell; do you remember the body positivity movement? Love your body. That’s great; we’re talking about Noelle. There’s nothing wrong with that. But all of a sudden, I started to see this rift in; if I’m not body positive, then I am body negative and I have some work to do. Or vice versa. And there was no place for people to just be. So I was like; this is kind of bugging me.

So I posted a picture of myself with my also squishy, not 6-pack abs, holding my baby. And I was like; let me tell you what I see when I look at my body. I am neutral on it. I’m not attached to it. I’m not ashamed of it, nor am I very; it doesn’t bring any emotion out in me. So I wanted to share that. And of course I shared it more eloquently then, because I don’t have my thoughts organized now. But it was a distinction that I wanted to make. It was something that was bugging me, but it doesn’t have to come across as antagonistic so much as; here’s a different perspective.

So, to Diane’s point, without rambling on too much long; I really challenge y’all. If you’re looking to grow your audience; what is the thing that’s bugging you? Or a distinction you want made? Or a perspective you want represented in the world that’s not there? And maybe you’re not doing it because you’re afraid, because you haven’t seen it done before.

And Diane and I chatted about this briefly before we pressed record. If you want to grow, it has to cost you something. Right? There’s something you have to give up in exchange. And a little bit of that is in jumping into the unknown. It’s in putting up a perspective that you have not seen elsewhere, and seeing what happens. And waiting to see how people responds, and being ok with that. You have to be prepared to make that exchange. Otherwise, you will not grow.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Cassy Joy: What is the reason for people to then click follow?

Diane Sanfilippo: You have to risk something to have the reward.

Cassy Joy: Yes.

4. Thoughtful, not rant-y [38:17]

Diane Sanfilippo: And that’s the comfort level that people have hiding behind social media or blog or whatever it is. If you stay comfortable the whole time, it’s not interesting. Nobody is interested and comfortable. So to your point; I have some notes. I thought you said it so beautifully that you want to compose your thoughts, and you don’t just want to react. I don’t think it’s important or relevant or productive or mature to just rant about things. Which is why I don’t just rant about the whole “influencer” thing. I’m trying to just sit with it, like why do I think it’s annoying. And maybe one day there will be a post. I’m expressing it in tiny ways here. That’s no where near the depth of how I feel. {laughs}

But it’s not a rant. I was thinking back to what I might have said on social media 10 years ago, and I might have been a lot more rant-y. It’s not just; listen, there are very popular food products in our sphere that I’m just not a fan of. And I think y’all are crazy. Because this is not good, and you all think it’s good, and it’s not good. And everybody needs to know that this is not good. But I’m actually not going to do that. Because it’s not productive. It’s probably going to make some people feel badly that they don’t have time to make their own, or maybe the money to get a higher quality version, or whatever it is. So I’m always trying to assess; is this helpful? Probably not. The people who know it’s not good are not going to buy it. It’s fine. I don’t have a personal agenda against these companies. You know what I mean? I don’t think they’re bad people, or any of that.

So let it be. We don’t need to just rant for the sake of it. And I think we don’t need to bury a brand or a product or whatever it is just for the sake of it. Just because we don’t like it. Just not liking something isn’t really the point of this. It’s about offering a point of view that might be disruptive or challenging to the status quo, or challenging to your reader or follower to think about something differently. She or he may not be ready to receive that challenge, and that’s ok. And you might get backlash on it.

I have been dealing with backlash on social media boundaries for years. And now, three plus years in to setting more and more boundaries on social media, most of my peers are like; ok I get it. I get why you did that. Because now I’m feeling resentful of the way that people want to interact with me. And I’m like; I was feeling it day one. So I have learned that this is what I need to do. So I started talking about boundaries. Because it became really important for me in my life. And I know that I can see things that are happening on social media; so this is to the point of this challenging point of view. Right?

I’m challenging the audience, and saying; hey guys. I don’t want you DMing me. I know a lot of other people say shoot me a DM. I’m like; please don’t. Please don’t personally text message me. I don’t know you. I don’t want message; I don’t know who you are. And if it’s going to be positive or not; I don’t know what it is, and what the demands are. That doesn’t feel good to me. And I want to show up in a way that I know I can feel good and generous and positive. Because I give so much. So saying those words was so painful for so many people, and very challenging to them because this whole social media thing is what it is.

And this is a separate topic, and we’re actually going to talk more about boundaries and all of that on social media next week. But just challenging people’s status quo; what they always did; what they thought was acceptable behavior; what other people accept. Look; there is nothing wrong with DMing people who say they want DMs. Do it. Their prerogative. Right? Everybody gets to decide for themselves. But assuming that it’s ok for everyone just because one people said it. What am I saying?

Just because one person said it or many people say it doesn’t make it ok for everyone. And I think just disrupting that process. Oh my gosh; I’m talking with my hands, I’m saying words that don’t make sense. Disrupting that process and that thought pattern or that behavior pattern, it makes people share the post. If I write something about boundaries, it gets shared the most. And I haven’t had the same type of explosive growth on social media in recent years; I have been super stagnant. But I can tell that the depth of connection of my followers is totally different than it was just a few years ago.

And my businesses are growing. So I’m not interested in just the top lying number of my social media growing. If my business is growing, that’s the KPI. That’s the key performance indicator. You know what I mean? That’s what I’m looking at. Is my business growing? And yes, of course, having an audience that grows would probably also grow the business more. But at the same time, I’m kind of like; if we’re not on the same page with the way we view a lot of things, I’m not sure I really want your money. And that’s ok with me.

And I think that we all have to be ok with that. We have to be ok with saying something that might be unpopular, and not aligning with everyone in an effort to align more authentically with the right people who we want in our sphere. And so I think that’s the payment that you’re kind of talking about. You have to risk something. But ultimately in the end, I do think that the reward is that the people who are there are there for the right reasons.

Cassy Joy: Yes. You’re going to cultivate the audience you’ve always wanted. The Fed and Fit readers are traditionally; they’re a very positive group of people. They really appreciate this kind of wholesome, grounded perspective on life and wellness. And that’s not an accident. That’s not an accident; if I only posted food, and also these are people that tolerate me talking and narrating my dogs’ lives. They’re a little bit goofy, or they embrace goofy, right? And that’s not an accident. Because I’m putting these things out there.

And just to give you a micro example of something that is slightly disruptive and a little bit strange that you can put out there; narrating for my dogs was one of those things. This is something I’ve grown up doing; I’ve done it my whole life, since I could talk. My whole family does it. And I will never forget the first time I decided to share what Gus’ thoughts were on social media, and I was like; they are going to boycott me. I’m going to make the news in a bad way. {laughs} It’s going to all come crashing down around me. But gosh darn it, Gus just wants to be heard finally. And I shared it; and yes. I did. You know what; I got some nastygrams from people on their way out telling me; I can’t even remember what they were. But just some nastygrams. You’re going to get them.

But what it really did was it allowed me to weed the garden of the people who were not meant to be there, and it made room for the other plants that I wanted there to really flourish. And we’ve cultivated this incredible community that I’m so proud of. So it can be something as silly as that.

So the thing that you’re afraid of sharing, or the thing that you’re like; gosh. I don’t really agree with this. Or I feel this way but I don’t know how to put it out there. Keep sitting with it. Because the world needs your perspective. It needs you. And there are people out there that need you to share it, so that they can find community with you and your other people.

Diane Sanfilippo: Here, here. So, this is really where we’re talking about how to grow. We have to put some skin in the game. We have to be somewhat vulnerable, or polarizing, or have a counterpoint point of view on something.

I do think, to your point, Cassy, where you’re talking about; it’s not just about giving tons of content, content, content. There needs to be depth to that content. If you’re getting to this place where you don’t know what to post on social, and you’re posting a picture of some whatever it is; we’ve talked about this a lot. The captions matter. Ok, fine. You can totally post recipes. That’s fine. People want that, and it does provide value.

And the thing I love about food and recipes is that it does form connection with our readers. How cool to be in their house, when they’re feeding their family. That is just such a wonderful, grounding thing to offer. To make that offering of food. What a universally;

Cassy Joy: Precious.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it’s so great. Sure, do that. Share those moments. But I think everyone can probably dig a bit deeper and find out; where is the thing that you can get a little bit vulnerable on.

And I don’t think, personally, if you’re new and building; I don’t think certain topics are the best to do this on. Like, it’s not for everyone to just get out there and be sharing strong opinions on something that you’re not ready to defend and backup that you know are polarizing deeply. Like the vaccine pro or con, wherever you’re going to stand on that. I have a point of view, but I’m not like eyeball deep in research and my grounding is such that I can really stand in what I believe. That’s probably not the thing to come and talk about on social media. Do you know what I mean? We’re not trying to throw you into the fire with this piece of whatever it is.

I was pretty darn confident to talk about the fact that people were being nuts about bacon. I was like; I know the deal with these food additives. I feel really comfortable and confident talking about that. I know it’s going to be shocking to hear. But it also wasn’t like; not a deeply personal topic. I’m not worried I’m going to be personally attacked about it. I think there are certain types of topics that we can do that around.

And then, the other thing that I have definitely; to your point about your audience and who you feel that they are. I feel like my audience is a different group of people who, over the last several years especially, have really worked on themselves when it comes to setting boundaries in their everyday life. One of the biggest pieces of feedback I get from my audience besides, “I made this recipe and I love it,” is, “Thank you so much for continuing to stand firmly in your boundaries. It has really helped me to do this in my life.” I get messages like that every single day. Comments or whatever it is, in any form.

And that is something that is really meaningful to me just as a person showing up in the world. This is the kind of change I want to affect in people’s lives outside of my business, because I think that is so meaningful. So I think we have to decide what it is that we’re willing to talk about and have a conversation about in this way. Because I remember a few years ago; again, friends and peers being like; that seems extreme, Diane. Do you really need to say those things? Do you really need to walk through and drag this example out of the way somebody DM’d you about XYZ? And I’m like, yes. I do. Because I see things happening that I really need to talk about. Because I think people don’t realize that they’re doing it. Because I want to shake people and wake them up to the fact that they’re doing this.

So, I think we all have to figure that out and decide which topics are ok for us to get into. The other thing is; to your point about sharing about giving birth in a pandemic. That’s a hugely vulnerable topic. It really is. People’s birth stories; I feel like everyone is always clawing at new moms for the birth story. And I’m just like; simmer the heck down. That is a massive experience in your life. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never been like; hey, can you tell me your birth story?

If someone wants to tell you, they’re going to tell you. Let them be, you know what I mean? I just wish that people would boundary themselves. {laughs} Bind themselves? I’m a good talker today, everyone. Do you know what I mean? Recognize that people will say the things they want to say.

Over the years, I’ve talked a little bit about my own fears, and things that make me really stressed or put me in a position where I do feel vulnerable or uncomfortable or fearful because there are a lot of things that I’m not afraid of that other people are afraid of. And I’ve been able to talk about it more on social media recently where I’m sharing what I consider about as vulnerable as I can be. And next week we’re going to talk about this divide between vulnerability and privacy, and what’s intimate versus what’s maybe just a little bit personal. What are the levels to which we share?

Because I share about things, and I’m as vulnerable as I can be in a way that feels protected and not overly disclosing to the world who doesn’t need to know every detail of my life and family history. Do you know what I mean? And I do think there’s a difference there. So I don’t want to encourage someone to go down a path of sharing all your everything; all your skeletons and every detail of everything. because that’s not what it’s about.

I actually think Brene Brown talks about this in; shoot, not Daring Greatly. What was her book with the blue and green?

Cassy Joy: Oh, uh. Dare to Lead?

Diane Sanfilippo: Dare to Lead. There’s a difference between vulnerability for the sake of it, and full disclosure and telling all the stuff. And it’s like; we don’t need to know every personal detail of that experience. There’s a boundary that needs to still be there. But, we can share some of our struggles and what we’re looking to overcome, and all of that.

So, hopefully that’s clear to people that sharing these things does make a difference. Having a strong point of view; there’s value in that. When we’re talking about science and a strong point of view, I think it’s really important to be open to learning new information and changing your mind and being ok with that. And I think that; if you’re not sure where to go, sharing your personal experience, to your point, Cassy, about something that people feel really divided on; here’s my personal experience and how I have approached it. My mindset and all of that. I think that’s kind of a safe space to be in that could be something that really helps someone grow and connect. You really want to connect with your audience.

5. Tip of The Week: Brainstorm your perspective [53:39]

Diane Sanfilippo: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward. Cassy, why don’t you help wrap us up this week with a tip on growing.

Cassy Joy: Ok. So I bet you saw this one coming. {laughing} From a long way away. But today’s tip of the week, and slash homework assignment is to sit down and think about; what is something out of the norm that you can post that would give your readers and followers an excuse or make them want to share that content with somebody else. What kind of value can you provide; whether that’s, like we’ve said so many times, it’s a different perspective. It’s something extremely vulnerable. It is a story that you want told. A perspective that you want seen in the world. Or a different take that you don’t think is out there.

And like Diane said; we’re not asking you to exchange your own privacy in order to do this. There’s definitely a good balance to be had here. And if you’re unclear on where to draw that line, then I would definitely take your time in putting this together. But if there is something; in this conversation, if you feel directly challenged, and you know something that you could share that is in line with what you do want to share online, then I challenge you directly to go and do that.

And it’s ok to send it to a trusted friend; someone who has your back to review it before you put it out there. There are definitely several occasions that I bounce ideas off a very small number of people before I put something out that I know won’t stifle me, but will support me when I’m doing something like that. Diane is one of those. So if you need to bounce it off a friend, definitely do that. But I challenge you to go and see; what can you share that’s unique that will add real value that might be a little bit disruptive.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. Cassy is @CassyJoyGarcia as well as @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo as well as @BalancedBites.

Tune in next week for another brand new episode.