Tag Archive for ‘social media’

Beware of the Race for Followers on Instagram in the BBQ Community

Back in 2018, I was on fire for most of the year as I consistently posted my food photos, largely consisting of smoked meat, on Instagram. Then, as I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, life got busy. November 2018, my mother had a stroke. It wasn’t long after that I took a half-year hiatus. 2019 has been — to be unabashedly transparent — an absolute struggle. My aunt (my mother’s sister, who is like a second mother to me) experienced two extreme health events this year (a heart attack in March and, more recently, diverticulosis that led to an infection that caused sepsis). I took a complete break from all social media to assist in mitigating the ramifications of those tragic health events and attempt to take care of myself in the process.

In returning and leaving again (as it pertains to Instagram), I took notice of why I ever loved posting in the first place: the love of delicious grub and the desire to share it and the want to build genuine connections/friendships with other people who have similar interests. It is a community. The barbecue community.

After the first six months away, I was disheartened to find that many of my former followers had unfollowed me. I was perturbed and felt taken back, because while I had not warned any followers of a break from the ‘gram, I had posted about my mother having a stroke, so I was a little disheartened from losing many, but I can’t blame them for unfollowing, because as far as what they knew, I could have been done with Instagram forever, and they may have just wanted to prune who they are following when it comes to active vs. inactive accounts. Nonetheless, I’m not bitter about it.

I wrote in a post back over the summer about how there is a lot of selfishness embedded in the Instagram barbecue community. Many people will do whatever it takes in order to grow their follower count and expand their page. I appreciate those who do so organically, because that is what I’m trying to do; it is a slow grind, but more worthwhile, because you are doing it through the work of creating content and building relationships along the way vs. the snakes who buy followers and take shortcuts.

I can’t help but feel jaded at times when I see bogus accounts or whenever I receive a follow from a ‘big’ account that I know will unfollow a few days or a week later.

If you ever decide to delve deep into the cooking community on Instagram, I plead for you to do it for the right reasons. Sure, I think many people’s goals (I would be a sheep to say this isn’t mine) is to make a name for themselves and eventually earn some profit along the way, but taking a shortcut won’t lead to as much, because more people than you know recognize phonies. Yes, “there is a sucker born every minute,” but you can tell a jackass (donkey) from a stallion.

The title of this post is written that way, because creating content and watching your follower count increase is a trap. It can become an addiction. Sometimes you might see a spike because one post nets you a high multitude of followers, but then a few posts later you might experience a plateau with little growth, and that should never dissuade you, because your content will be found over a period of time as you grow your page. Patience and persistence, my friends.

Frauds in the Barbecue Community on Instagram

Last year, when I posting like a madman on Instagram, slanging and hanging meats in the Barrel House Cooker all spring and summer long in the middle of taking classes for the degree that I finished up back in December, I was approached by one of my closest friends in the barbecue community over on the ‘gram. Ron. Captain Ron! (@cptnron302) He asked me if I would like to join his private messaging group where each member of the said group would send their posts to the group chat and each member involved would click like and leave a comment. The reason behind this idea is that the likes and comments would boost the posts and allow them to be seen.

The Instagram algorithm is a little shaky, because people with a small following may have posts that won’t show up on someone’s feed due to a low number of likes and comments. Being involved in this group would yield a higher chance of one’s posts being seen, introducing more likes, comments and ensuing followers.

It worked. My posts started receiving traffic they never had before.

The problem? I have genuine love for Ron and a few others in the group for being authentic, down to earth people with a knack for outdoor cooking, but there are two members of that particular group who didn’t care to follow the unofficial ‘rules’ of the chat, because they wouldn’t like or comment on everyone in the group’s posts. I won’t name any names, but this was frustrating to me. I considered sending Ron a one-on-one message to discuss this discrepancy I felt, but I figured there’s no use. I was involved in the group not only to help myself but to help the others, especially Ron, because he’s a nice, generous guy who will not hesitate to like and comment on your posts, and he throws down some seriously good lookin’, delicious grub. There were others in this group that I held (hold) in the same regard as Ron for similar reasons. The two other members who are the antithesis of everything that little group stands for? They are the plague of the community, in my mind.

Why post in the barbecue community on Instagram? “I want to make a name for myself.” Some people just want to post photos of their gorgeous, mouthwatering food every couple of weeks, but by and large, most people who are posting want to create a social presence with their posts and make a name for themselves, attracting advertisers and companies who may hire them to become social influencers or brand ambassadors. I would be blatantly lying if I told you I did not have such intentions. I have culinary-related business goals. I want to turn Grizzly BBQ into a full-blown business, but I also want to genuinely network, reciprocate any love I receive and add value to people’s lives if I can help it.

Far too many people are out there who are feeders rather than givers. They’ll feed on the likes and comments they receive, but they pick and choose who they give their likes and comments to, and I resent that greatly. I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see the two aforementioned members from the above paragraph go and like/comment on one of the bigger accounts in the barbecue community. They’ll slobber all over the big names who have 10,000+ followers, yet they’ll scroll on past other accounts with a smaller amount of followers. I know this happens because the proof is in the pudding. You’ll see them out there posting comments on every big name account’s posts as they pass yours by. It is difficult to not feel a varying level resentment over that kind of crap.

I don’t have a big account; I have less than a thousand followers, but I do have a passion for what I do (outdoor cooking), I enjoy sharing my photos with the world and wield an extreme appreciation and high level of gratitude for every like and comment that I receive.

I just find it annoying when these selfish individuals come out of the woodwork for their own personal gain. It would be beautiful if we (we as in the barbecue community as a whole) gave back to one another, working together to selflessly promote one another and harnessed that in the community. I have so much love and respect for some of the big name members of the barbecue community who like and comment on my posts, because they don’t have to. They have no reason to. There’s no gain for them to like and comment on my posts other than to create and sustain a real, genuine connection and relationship by the means of networking, but they do it anyway. It only takes a few seconds to like and comment on someone’s posts. Why can’t these obviously selfish members that I speak negatively of do it?

I felt this post was necessary to write because it is an overwhelming pet peeve of mine.

The barbecue community is incredible, as a whole. There are so many awesome people with a veritable love for delicious food who want to share it and support others. I have a great deal of love for each of those people. For such reasons, I want to give a big shoutout to some great members of the Instagram BBQ community who selflessly dish out love via likes and genuine comments:

Kurt — @caribeque
Chuck — @c_train707
John — @bigjohns_bbq
Ron — @cptnron302
Jimmy — @borderbangerbbq
Jeff (we might be related since we have the same last name! Haha) — @backwoods_kitchen
Matt — @bluetravelz
Adam — @thisjewcanque
Justin — @utetastic
Robert — @moons_bbq
Pam — @pam_persinger_walker
@zzzzote
Wes — @sunnysidebeachesbbq
Ralph — @revin_it_up_bbq

There are so many more…