210: Pinch of Yum’s Instagram Playbook with Lindsay Ostrom

An image of Lindsay Ostrom and the title of her episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Pinch of Yum’s Instagram Playbook.'

Welcome to episode 210 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Lindsay Ostrom about her Instagram Playbook.

Last week on the podcast, we re-shared an episode from 2017 with Chelsea from Chelsea’s Messy Apron about how she made $40,000 in her first year of blogging. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Pinch of Yum’s Instagram Playbook 

We have some exciting news for ya today – we’re holding a brand new, free, and virtual event next week called “Our Instagram Playbook.” During that event, Lindsay and Bjork will be opening the Pinch of Yum Instagram Playbook and talking through the intentional strategies and decisions that have helped grow the Pinch of Yum Instagram account to over 850,000 followers.

This episode of the podcast is a bit of a teaser for that event, and Lindsay talks all about why having rules set up for the Pinch of Yum Instagram account has been so beneficial to her. You’ll learn all about where the idea of a playbook originated, what has contributed the most to the Pinch of Yum account’s growth, why we believe engagement is the most important, and more.

A quote from Lindsay Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'More rules equals more freedom.'

In this episode, Lindsay shares:

  • How the Pinch of Yum team uses Instagram
  • How they generate income on Instagram
  • What a playbook is
  • Why it’s helpful to have a playbook for something like Instagram
  • Why it’s important to keep track of your social media habits
  • The two things that have contributed the most to their Instagram growth
  • Proof that engagement is actually king
  • What social media meetings look like on the Pinch of Yum team
  • How you can sign up for our free, virtual event next week!

Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Spotify:


If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.


Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay, welcome back to the podcast.

Lindsay Ostrom: Well, hi. Thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: The great thing about these podcasts is that you and I being that we are married talk often. So it is a 360 degree, no, it’s a 180, it’s not 360, 180 degree difference before I press record, where like neither of us have to be on. So we like kind of chat a little bit before, then I go, okay, you ready?

Lindsay Ostrom: Ready, and then I go, hey, thanks for having me on.

Bjork Ostrom: I go, welcome to the podcast, Lindsay. And before we were like, okay, all right, are you ready? Okay. All right, here we go.

Lindsay Ostrom: Ah, that’s really funny. It would probably be-

Bjork Ostrom: I would like to acknowledge that.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, you should, next time, you can edit it that way so people get like the real authentic before and after.

Bjork Ostrom: That’d be great. Maybe what I’ll do next time for a podcast is I just won’t let you know that I’m recording and then I’ll have a meeting and then we can publish that. Or vice versa, you could do that to me.

Lindsay Ostrom: Oh, yeah. Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: All right. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. But, we are, for those of you that don’t track along closely with what we do, it is important to know that Lindsay and I work together, not as close as people think, but we are also married. So that’s an important piece of the puzzle here, people that have followed along will know that. So a little bit of context there.

Bjork Ostrom: But on that note of actually not working like side by side or really deeply integrated into the things that we’re doing day to day, it’s interesting to note, we’re almost like, I feel like we kind of act as advisors for each other in the things that we’re doing. Would you feel like that’s accurate?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. I literally today, like I haven’t asked you yet, but I have a little list of things that I’m wanting to check in with you about because you can see things differently than I can see them.

Bjork Ostrom: And same for you, which is why it works great for us to like advise/work together. But I think people usually think like, hey, you’re in the same room at the same desk working all the time. Sometimes that happens but not always. But one of the things that you are really good at and I come to you for insight and opinions and thoughts on is social media content specifically, and you do a great job with it, and specifically content with Instagram is what we’re going to be talking about today.

Bjork Ostrom: So, before we get into it, I’d be interested to hear your view on how important Instagram is and how it fits into the business structure of Pinch of Yum. What does Instagram look like from a business perspective for Pinch of Yum?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, so Instagram for us is a place where we can reach people basically. It’s a place where we can promote our blog content within an environment and a platform, in this case, specifically, like an app that people are spending a lot of time in. So we’re able to like deliver our content to people in the places or place that they already are hanging out. And that’s really fun for us and really cool. So I would say, like, as a piece of the business, how we view it is like almost like a branch of the blog. Like it’s not the base of what we do but we do produce this base content that then goes out to all these different branches. And Instagram is one of those main, I would say one of the bigger, more substantial branches to where the content goes.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting, over the years, you hear people talk a lot about social media and they talk about it as like sharecropping. And they say, hey, you need to be, never build your garden or your crop on somebody else’s land. You always want to own the land, and they use blog and email as an example. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. But I think the downside is, then people totally ignore social. And what happens is, there’s more and more, there are more and more people spending time on social media. And as a content creator, it’s a really important way to meet those people to interact with them to engage them to share in some of that attention that they are giving to their phone or device or whatever it is.

Bjork Ostrom: And so, like you said, it’s not the main thing, but it’s also not something that we totally ignore and it’s an important piece of the puzzle, and Instagram being at the top of the list. Obviously, with social, sometimes what can happen is things can change, like Facebook can change an algorithm and that can go away. It could always change with Instagram, too. But right now, there’s a lot of interaction that happens on Instagram. It’s an important platform. And we see that with brands too. So, can you talk about, it’s one thing to build a following and to have people engaging with your content but it’s another thing to actually like fold that into the business and create revenue from it. So, what does that look like for Pinch of Yum and how does it work to take some of that attention and turn that into revenue which is what business building is all about?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, so, like, I would say the average, the average way that we do that or we approach that for Pinch of Yum is just as an extension of a sponsored project that we would do with a brand. So, for example, they come to us. Now it’s actually built in to all of our brand partnerships. So like when we pitch a brand or when a brand comes to us, what we propose is usually like, hey, this is the type of content we’ll create this is where it will live. One of the things that’s rolled into the this is where it will live section of our partnership is Instagram, and like promoting the content and the product or the brand on Instagram.

Lindsay Ostrom: But it’s even come to, like it has developed into its own place for sponsored content within the last, I would say within the last two to three years, where brands come to us and they’re like, hey, we actually don’t even want the other stuff that you’re offering, we just only want Instagram. And that a lot of times will be a good fit for brands if they’re working with, maybe they have less budget. And so, they can really only pick one spot, they can’t do the full thing, but they just want one spot. And maybe they don’t want the, like the longevity of blog posts that a blog post could give in terms of like ranking and staying power, they just want quick attention on their product or on their brand or like quick brand awareness.

Lindsay Ostrom: And so for brands that are working usually with like less budget than doing like the full package and/or wanting that quick attention, a lot of times an Instagram only sponsored project is a really good fit for them because we’re able to, like you kind of said before, we’re able to like, I don’t really like the word leverage, I know that’s like a businessy word but we’re able to share maybe, like share access to our audience and to the people who are, like you said, paying attention to what we do and able to kind of make it a win-win-win, where the brand gets to be in front of these people who are watching what we do, and the people who are watching, it’s a win for them because they get valuable recommendations and valuable content day in and day out. And it’s a win for us because it allows us to build our business. So I love to think about that as the triple win where it’s a win for all parties. Everybody’s getting value out of it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I would liken it to a Super Bowl commercial where some people don’t have any interest in football, they just want to watch the commercials because they’re really interesting. But also, that’s how the Super Bowl pays for everything that goes on with the Super Bowl. The NFL makes money that way. And then it’s entertaining for people but then brands also get exposure. And I think the best type of sponsored content is similar, where people don’t feel like it interrupts what they’re doing. It’s still entertaining and engaging and I think that is kind of what you’re describing with that triple win.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So, an example that I feel like would fit in with that is maybe that would just be on Instagram would be seasonal content. So something like a fourth of July themed sponsored content. It’s like, well, maybe work on the blog, it would have other places that’ll work, but it works really well on Instagram because you can publish it at a certain time period and people are in that mindset and it’s not like they need that to be really long tail. So we see that occasionally I know, but do you have other examples of ways brands are working with Pinch of Yum just on Instagram?

Lindsay Ostrom: Well, like one of the ones that was a more unique brand partnership for us was the one we did like a year or two ago with Google around the holidays, like around Christmas holiday time. They wanted personal stories and a video. And it was like this super last minute project that came together. But it was all around building awareness for this campaign that Google was doing for small businesses. And so, it wasn’t a food product, it was like, they wanted, it was Instagram specific because that’s where the campaign was growing and where they wanted to focus all the attention if that makes sense.

Lindsay Ostrom: So like, their end goal wasn’t people to go to google.com or to buy a product, their end goal was to get people on social media talking about this idea of Google supporting small businesses. And so, then Instagram was a really good place for that to happen because that’s where they want the end result, to also, that’s what I want people to take action from.

Lindsay Ostrom: Another like kind of outside of the box way that we’ve worked with brands, and this is becoming very much the norm, but like doing stuff on Instagram stories, and obviously Instagram Stories is like relatively new. It feels like it’s kind of been around forever. But, I don’t know, two years, a year, two years, I can’t remember how long it’s been around. But yeah, we now have brands that’ll say even like we don’t, you know, we’re less interested in a post in the feed but we want something on Instagram stories, even if this is going to disappear in 24 hours, you know, that’s part of what’s compelling about it.

Lindsay Ostrom: I think one of the interesting things is just the stickiness of that and like you watch someone, you watch a person talking on Instagram stories and it’s just really compelling to watch. It’s like, more similar to watching something on YouTube or it’s a behind the scenes, it’s like a less polished look at things. And so, a lot of times, there are opportunities to do fun things with brands, especially things that would be like experiential or just being able to show things in a more up close and personal way. So anyways, those are just like a few of the different ways that we’ve worked with, brands outside of just like a standard post. Like, here’s a jar of something that you should buy in the feed. There are other ways outside of that as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. One of the advantages that I have in doing an interview with you is that I don’t have to do as much research because the past however many years, 10 years that we’ve been married.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, you should know how many years Bjork. You need to do research on that so that you know how many years we’ve been married.

Bjork Ostrom: 10 years. The number that I was trying to figure out was how long we’ve known each other, and July 4 is the date that, we were just talking about this, I think it’s the first time that I actually ever like had a conversation with you, freshman year of high school.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. I think it was younger than that, though. I think it was like eighth grade.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Lindsay Ostrom: I think it was the first time that your family was like, yeah, hanging out.

Bjork Ostrom: And you saw me across me and thought-

Lindsay Ostrom: At the Fourth of July party and thought-

Bjork Ostrom: Who’s that nerd?

Lindsay Ostrom: Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought. That’s not a joke.

Bjork Ostrom: What I was going to say is not so much back that far, but one of the things that I’ve noticed about you is that you kind of have these like frameworks or rules that you use in life. It’s always interesting to me to hear what those are and then look and see like, oh yeah, that is true. And I’m trying to think of an example like, one is like you have these times when with our daughter, Solvi, you’re like, I have the monitor, I have the audio on but I don’t look at the monitor.

Lindsay Ostrom: I don’t look at it.

Bjork Ostrom: I was like, oh, that’s interesting like rule that you’ve put in your life to operate. And I feel like you have those for all of these different, you have it for like business, for personal for working out, for friends. And it’s really interesting because I feel like I just kind of float and I don’t have any rules. Which isn’t entirely true but I feel like you’ve, it’s almost like you think through these and you apply them to your life. I think other people are unconscious to that.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, it’s a little weird.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Lindsay Ostrom: I mean, it’s like cool and weird. And it’s quirky a little bit, maybe neurotic.

Bjork Ostrom: But I think it’s also helpful. And as we were talking about, whenever we do before an enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro, we always do an event, we’re like, what should we do for an event and we’re kind of brainstorming and thinking through stuff. And one of the ideas that came up was we knew we wanted to focus on Instagram because it’s an important platform both for us and for content creators and for food creators, recipe creators. So, we’re like, what do we talk about within Instagram. And the idea came up of talking about this playbook, which this didn’t exist before but it did in your head. And so, essentially, what it is extracting that information that you have as your playbook for Instagram and then kind of packaging that up into a thing.

Bjork Ostrom: So, we’re doing this event is coming up, it’s next week for those of you that listen to the podcast in real time. It’ll be a week from when this podcast is released. So, if you go to foodbloggerpro.com/playbook, that will bring you to the page where you can check it out. And this will be released on the ninth, and the event will be on the 16th. So if you listen to this in real time, you can check it out.

Bjork Ostrom: But talk to me about what a playbook is and how you use the playbook that was in your head that then we took and put onto paper, how you’ve used that over the years to build Pinch of Yum’s following on Instagram?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, I think for me, most of the things in the playbook, not all but many of them like were created out of a desire for like simplicity and like more rules equals more freedom in a sense. And being able to have guidelines around like what I do and don’t do just allows me more freedom and more mental space to like actually then take action on the things that I do want to do and do them. And I also think a part of the like what the playbook generated from was just my competing love and frustration with Instagram and with like this idea of constantly documenting your life and like creating a digital, like both personally and professionally for Pinch of Yum, for the food blog, like having, yeah, just having some issues with boundaries and feeling this constant tension of like, I want to be on it, I love it, I love connecting with people, I love posting, I love sharing.

Lindsay Ostrom: And then also feeling like overwhelmed and like I am not doing enough on it or need to always be on it. It’s like this, Melissa, our friend Melissa, The Faux Martha, she often calls it, I’m not going to get this exactly right, but something like it’s this like hungry beast and that you have to keep feeding it.

Bjork Ostrom: Feeding it.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yes. So I think in terms of like the origins of this playbook that existed in my head, I think that that’s a big reason for it is because I felt like I needed to figure out my rules in terms of how I operated with this hungry beast that wanted to be fed all the time, the hungry beast being Instagram. So, for me, the playbook, which now exists in a tangible form but previously just kind of existed in my head, the playbook was just rules and guidelines around like my best practices for using the platform and using the app.

Lindsay Ostrom: And I think it’s both from a perspective of like how do I stay sane and how do I stay mentally healthy and like not get sucked down into this potentially toxic like rabbit hole of comparison and like addicted to phone and all that stuff. Like how do I balance that side and how do I create like a healthy thriving account that is not only good for me personally and for the people that consume our content but helps to grow our business.

Lindsay Ostrom: So that’s kind of where that came from, was just needing to, needing rules around that in order to like not fall victim to some of the lesser good things about Instagram.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I kind of liken it to or an analogy that I would use for it. Let me know if this, if I get too far down this path, just reel me back in. But I’m going to give this a shot.

Lindsay Ostrom: Okay. Good luck.

Bjork Ostrom: Analogy we can kind of imagine like a beast/dog. So kind of like Harry Potter type beast or Game of Thrones, I haven’t actually seen Game of Thrones.

Lindsay Ostrom: What about the Stranger Things dogs, you know I’m talking about?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Those are maybe a little bit more scary than I’m imagining.

Lindsay Ostrom: They’re very scary.

Bjork Ostrom: This is like a like, it’s like a wolf dog, that’s what I’m imagining in my head, like a big wolf dog that like goes up to, like if it stands up, it’s the same. It’s the same height as me if it stands up.

Lindsay Ostrom: It’s huge. It’s like six feet tall.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. And that is Instagram. I feel like what you, so you want this beast to be a part of your life but you don’t want it to control you. And the two ways that it could pan out is like you take it for a walk and it like sees a squirrel and it runs and then you’re dragging behind it. And then it like, it’s barking up a tree and it sees another dog and it gets in a fight, and you’re like yanking, and then you have to get one of those collars that like goes into its neck in. It’s not fun to take it for a walk. But if you are intentional about setting up, doing training, setting up some boundaries, having a routine …

Lindsay Ostrom: Like an invisible, what about an invisible fence?

Bjork Ostrom: You can have an invisible fence, exactly. Then you can get to this point where you can train this beast to be really helpful. And maybe you could even, if you get tired, you could jump on it and it would take you for a walk.

Lindsay Ostrom: You are so weird. I cannot believe we’re having this conversation right now.

Bjork Ostrom: But the idea of being, the beast still exists no matter what. It’s just how you are approaching it and how intentional you are with that. And if you have some intentional efforts behind how you’re approaching it, it can be a positive thing. And you know that, okay, it goes in its kennel at this time, and you don’t have to worry about it and this is when it gets fed and this is the growth chart that it has for the beast and things like that. So, playbook being one of those things that helps you do that. And none of it is ground breaking type stuff. It’s just most people don’t go through the effort of creating one of these things. And I try to not to use sports analogies just because I feel like I roll sports analogies, but you think of any team, and have some type of playbook that they operate out of. And it’s helpful to have a similar thing for these important platforms for your business.

Bjork Ostrom: So, analogy, spot on, what would you add to it? Are there any other ways that you would train the beast or is there another sports analogy that you’d like to use?

Lindsay Ostrom: That was like a very strange analogy but also strangely good.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Lindsay Ostrom: I will give you that. It was strangely good. I think, yeah, I think it was actually pretty good.

Bjork Ostrom: Relative to other analogies that I’ve come up with on the spot, which-

Lindsay Ostrom: I’ve heard a lot of good and bad ones, so that one was pretty good.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. So the point is, what we’re trying to do is, I think more than anything, it’s being intentional which is a word that I use a lot in the podcast, and really thinking through what your approach and your strategy is. And not that you have to stick with that forever, but to have that down on paper allows you then to know this is where I’m operating out of, this is where I start with things. And I can tweak and adjust as needed versus just kind of willy nilly approaching something and not having a plan with it.

Bjork Ostrom: So, let’s talk about some of the things with the playbook. The event which is free, we’re going to go in depth, we’re going to cover, there’s seven different areas that you talk about as kind of core components that you have developed strategies and thoughts and ideas around. But let’s pull out just some of the, we don’t, we’re not going to have time to go through all seven of those on the podcast. But I think it’d be helpful for people to get a general idea of some of the things that exist within that. And all some questions around that.

Bjork Ostrom: I’d be interested to start by hearing you talk about some of the earliest parts of that playbook that you felt like you developed. Like at what point with Instagram did you feel like I need to start applying some of these rules that you have in other areas of your life that we talked about before. I need to start applying some of these to Instagram and what did that change look like as you started to develop some rules?

Lindsay Ostrom: Okay, I think one of the first like rules to develop in my brain, this is like long before the idea of actual printed physical playbook was like part of my thinking, like this is years ago. I think I just had this understanding of how my mood shifted depending on how people had reacted to my content on Instagram. And so, I would often, this would fall like in the-

Bjork Ostrom: I remember this.

Lindsay Ostrom: What’s that?

Bjork Ostrom: I don’t know if you’re going to share this but if you don’t, I will.

Lindsay Ostrom: Okay. I would put this in the boundary category, which is one of the categories that we have for the playbook.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s the first category is developing some rules and making decisions around boundaries as it relates to Instagram as a platform.

Lindsay Ostrom: That one is almost, that one’s not like about grow your account and grow your business. That one’s like protect your mind and protect your soul and don’t get lost in Instagram. So in that category of things, I just used to get really thrown off if I would post something and it like didn’t get a ton of engagement. But I would often want to see if people were commenting or I would just want to check Instagram or check, I don’t know, check stuff. And so I would be on Instagram. And to be honest, I still kind of do this to this day, where like if I was on Instagram and happened across the content but didn’t want my mood to be affected one way or the other depending on how many likes something got, I would literally hold my thumb in front of the like number. I would hold my phone and then like, you can imagine.

Bjork Ostrom: … like what are you doing?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. I would like strategically place my thumb over it so that I could kind of check on things, maybe like respond to a few comments. But I wasn’t going to experience such a swing of like, oh my gosh, I only got, you know, however many likes on this post, like, everything is terrible. I don’t know if other people are that way but I myself can be that way, and it was just like not a productive thing for me to constantly be, have that type of like numerical value placed on my content. So little asterisk, oh my gosh, asterisk here, and I’ll put like a caveat is that it is important to look at numbers. Like I’m not saying, in saying that, I’m not saying like don’t ever look at what people engage with, but just in the category of like boundaries and how much you let something control you and how you feel, that was like a very early thing for me. And that’s an example of the type of rules that I often like to have for myself.

Lindsay Ostrom: So even today, I was flipping through my account, my personal account before this because I was just poking around kind of thinking, getting my mind on the Instagram track. And if you hover your mouse, I’m on my desktop computer, if you hover your mouse over, it shows you the number of likes and comments. But like, I don’t want to see that, I just want to look at my pictures and I just want to like take in the thing as a whole without, so I’m like strategically keeping my mouse off the pictures because I don’t want those numbers in my head right now. Like I just want to be free of that.

Lindsay Ostrom: So, I think that was like a very early type of playbook rule long before I had the idea of like that this is a thing. I just knew that helped me feel better to not be so hooked in to like how many likes do I have and how many, you know, how popular is this or not popular is this or whatever.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Such a strong visual for me to think back to you going through and doing that. And also how relatable that is because I think that’s one of the hard things with social is that there’s these strong metrics that are attached to that and those metrics can impact your mood. It’s interesting to hear other people talk about that too. A lot of times is people who are really influential on social, they talk about how they go about interacting with social in a healthy way.

Bjork Ostrom: I think part of it is, you know, it’s not a growth hack, it’s not a trick for getting lots of followers, but it’s a way to maintain a healthy relationship with something. So, over the long period of time, you can continue to be on on that platform, whether that be your blog or social or recording video, whatever it be. Because otherwise you burn out. Like if you have this emotional experience where it’s just up and down, it just becomes so much.

Bjork Ostrom: It reminds me of Casey Neistat, who’s a YouTube guy, YouTuber. But he was talking about Instagram. And he said he no longer has it on his phone. He only posts via the website, which I didn’t even know was possible and I guess-

Lindsay Ostrom: I didn’t know it was either.

Bjork Ostrom: But it was like really hard and it’s super time consuming, And that is the reason why he does it. Like that’s his decision that he’s made around Instagram and using it and wanting to continue to use it, but knowing that if he does want to continue to use it, he can’t do it in the traditional way because of the impact that that has on him.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So I just thought that was really fascinating and an important thing to lead off with. So, what are a couple of the, just real quick, couple of the things within the playbook that you talked about as it relates to boundaries and in setting those boundaries? And you can just use your decisions as an example.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. A couple other boundary things that I have developed even in the last year are related to like how much time I spend on the app and like what things I do or don’t do. So like, well, like a good example is I’m in absolutely no for having notifications on, like absolutely not. I already find it hard enough to like not constantly be pulling up the app. So if something’s dinging at me all the time to pull up the app, like goodbye, I’m done, I’m not getting anything done and I’m just always thinking about that.

Lindsay Ostrom: So for me, it’s just like always have notifications off for Instagram. That might mean I miss something. That might mean a message comes in and with the way Instagram is structured, other things might come pile up on top of it, and then I miss something. And I’ve just made the decision, and that’s what the playbook is really all about is making decisions. I’ve made the decision to say that’s okay, that’s something I’m willing to let go in order to maintain like peace of mind or some kind of peace of mind.

Lindsay Ostrom: Another thing that I try to do in terms of boundaries is like I try not to have Instagram be the last thing I look at before I go to bed or the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning. And I’m really bad at that. And a lot of times what that means for me is I literally have to delete the app off my phone. I will delete it sometimes for days at a time. I don’t have any like, you know, always on this day I delete it and always on this day, but I do have in my mind, I feel like I have these kind of protected times that are like no Instagram times.

Lindsay Ostrom: One of which is like when I get home from work and we have an hour before, well, before you get home, but like just an hour that I get to play with Solvi, and like I don’t want to be on Instagram during that time. And even though I know I don’t want to, it’s so easy to just have my phone out and be like, oh, there’s just this work thing, I’m just going to check this. So just saying that’s a no Instagram time where like I’m not going to lay in my bed and scroll through Instagram, I’m just not going to do that I don’t ever feel better when I do that.

Lindsay Ostrom: So, putting some of those rules in place and making some of those decisions really intentionally has just been really helpful for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. In my challenge for people listening, if you don’t feel like you can get to the point where you’re deleting these apps off your phone, my challenge would be start by logging out. That was one of the things that I started to do with accounts that I wanted to impact my usage of was introducing a really short break, like something that disrupted the routine. And it’s amazing how the extra five to 10 seconds it takes to sign into an app is enough to remind you that actually you’re not that interested in using it. And even more so if it’s completely deleted. So that would be a little experiment that people can try just to see how that impacts their day to day.

Lindsay Ostrom: One of the things with deleting is like, I’m not, it’s not like deleted gone for good. Like sometimes I’ll even delete it just for an afternoon. And this is just for me personally but like, if it’s on my phone and available, like I know it’s there. Even if I’m logged out. And so, sometimes for me, I just need to delete it for a couple hours so it’s like not even an option, and then, yeah, put it back on my phone maybe the next morning or later that night when I need to do some stuff or whatever.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s interesting and important to mention this that one of the reasons why this is, we’re talking about this is because the people that listen to this podcast use these platforms in a different way than a traditional consumer of the product would. And for most people that use Instagram, they’re not approaching it as a business. And so that’s why for us as business people creating content, we have to be really smart about how we are using these tools because if we are in them all, we have to be in them a certain amount of time. But what can happen is that can develop habits the more that you use them, the more that you use them.

Bjork Ostrom: And it’s important to be strategic about that where we have these really powerful tools at our disposal but we want to make sure that we are approaching and using those in a healthy way. So, I think an important point to call out, it’s important for people in general to think strategically about how they’re using technology, but maybe even more so for creators.

Bjork Ostrom: So, we’re going to, like we said, there’s seven different topics, we’re not going to jump into all of those, boundaries is just one of them. But another one that I know a lot of people are going to be interested in talking about and hearing about is growth. Everybody wants to figure out what are the ways that I can grow this thing, not only because it’s easy to see those numbers and to see which direction they’re going, but also because growth a lot of times can correlate to success within a business. So, when you think of growth as it relates to Pinch of Yum on Instagram, what are some of the things, the rules or not even necessarily rules, but what are some of the kind of frameworks or filters that you view growth through as you think of Pinch of Yum and Instagram?

Lindsay Ostrom: So, when I think about growth, well, let me first say this because I feel like this is probably what people are most interested in. When I think about the things that have helped us grow Pinch of Yum the most significantly, the two things that come to mind are doing videos, adding videos into our content. And then the second thing is really, really clarifying what type of account we are and like really lacking in the branding. And for us with Pinch of Yum, that meant going to like an all food account. And by no means do I think that’s the only way forward or the right way for everyone because there are a bajillion and one examples I can think of of people who have a thriving rapidly growing Instagram account, and they themselves are a part of it.

Lindsay Ostrom: And there’s more of a lifestyle element or there are other pieces besides just food that people really love and engage with. But I think the important thing to go back to that playbook idea of like really the whole point is to make decisions and relieve some of the stress of making decisions. I think for me and for the Pinch of Yum account, like that was a significant shift was when I started to take my random pictures out of the feed. And again, I’m reiterating, I don’t think that this is like the magic bullet for every person. I’m just saying this has been my experience was, there was so much tension for me in posting, like, I would have a picture of Sage, our dog and I’d be like this is so cute. I want to post this on Instagram.

Lindsay Ostrom: But like, in my mind, I’d say well, wait a second, are people going to like this or are they going to not like this or is this going to be good for my brand are not good for my brand? Are people going to unfollow when I post a picture of Sage? What if I just got a new follower and they don’t know who Sage is, and Sage is our dog. The decisions that would swirl around in my head around something as stupid and like supposedly joyful as posting a picture of your dog, it just was too much. And I had to like draw a line. And I actually, it was actually, I think it was when I was pregnant that I said like, hey, I know I’m going to be wanting to post more of like our life and I am just going to find it a lot easier, I think to draw a line in the sand and say like, this is where the personal stuff is and this is where the food stuff is.

Lindsay Ostrom: So that was like two and a half years ago. And that was just really significant for us in terms of growth and I feel like we are able to get followers much more quickly because people come to the Pinch of Yum page or account. And they immediately can see, like the tagline says we like to eat, they can immediately see this is food. So they know what to expect, they know what they’re getting when they come, you know, when they follow the page. And I think those two things, the inclusion of video as a content type and then really just refining the main Pinch of Yum feed to like primarily food, those are the two things I think that have helped us grow the most.

Lindsay Ostrom: So, zooming out a little bit like, when I think about growth now, I really don’t focus on our overall number of followers as much as I do the quality of our content and how much people engage with it. So I’m constantly thinking about things like, hey, I posted this on Instagram stories. How many people responded to it? How many people had something to say about this? That to me is like a really good indicator of healthy, valuable content is if people respond to it, people engage with it. And that’s not even something people can see, that’s just something I see on the back end is like, you know, all these people responding saying, oh, yum, that looks so good, or even responding with a question. It’s like something about that is engaging enough to people that they want to reach out in some way, shape, or form.

Lindsay Ostrom: Another thing I’ll look at is like, when I’m in the right headspace, the number of likes, the number of shares, the number of saves, the number of comments, the type of comments. Like it just, are the comments just like, oh yum, that looks good? Or are the comments like, hey, I wish you would have made this with XYZ or are the comments taking other people and wanting to share? And so really, really focusing on all of the things as it relates to engagement, all of those metrics. Like that’s where my brain lives in terms of growth for our Instagram account. Because I think that what, it would be really cool for Pinch of Yum to get to a million followers, we’re at right now, I’m looking at it right now, 857,000 followers. If we could get to a million, that’d be amazing.

Lindsay Ostrom: Also, what good is a million followers if people don’t ever see your content or engage with it. And Instagram algorithm is such that like, the more something is engaged with, the more people will see it, and therefore, it’s kind of an engagement snowball. So, that’s really the most important one to me is like, and I think one thing that really interesting and people might find this interesting to know, but like, I will sometimes get as many likes on my posts or likes or engagement or whatever on my posts on my personal account, which has, gosh, what 37,000 followers, not even 40,000 followers, I’ll get as many likes as I do on the Pinch of Yum. And the Pinch of Yum has 800,000.

Lindsay Ostrom: So that is just a really like clear indicator that followers are super important, yes, but really engagement is like king. Like if you have a small but really highly engaged following, you’ve locked it in, like that’s what you want to have. So it’s not as much I think about that overall follower number as people think that it is.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. It can be a vanity metric in that, from the outside, it seems really impressive. Wow, that’s amazing, you have X many followers. But what the real impact doesn’t come from just a random number, it comes from people obviously actually seeing and being impacted and consuming that content. And that’s where you talk about engagement being such an important thing.

Bjork Ostrom: I think an important piece to point out there first, a couple of calls that you had. So talked about branding, so that’s another area of the Instagram playbook. And again, we’re not jumping into each of these but I want to call them out so people are aware of them as we talk through it. Boundaries, branding, and that’s a really important section so there’s like seven or eight different pieces of that as you kind of develop your branding for the content playbook. There’s content. So you talked about videos being really important and starting to share that. So the third area is content. Visual aesthetic, which we’re not going to get into in this podcast, Instagram stories, which you’ve touched on a little bit. And then now we’re talking about growth.

Bjork Ostrom: The other thing that I think is important that you talked about was, it’s important to be aware of some of those metrics, not necessarily follower count, which is I think what people usually look at first, but the actual engagement with the content that you’re creating. I think it’s the difference between opt-in awareness versus randomly seeing it and kind of randomly checking in without any intent around it. I know even today, we’ve been having conversations around how do we, what is the best way for us, what is the best tool for us to gather up and analyze social engagement across the board for Pinch of Yum content. That’s a really important piece of the puzzle. It’s not like we’re ignoring metrics and just going with our gut on everything. It’s a piece of it but that’s informed by these metrics around the content.

Bjork Ostrom: But when we’re doing that, we’re opting into it. We’re in the brain space, and I say we, but it’s you, like in the brain space to sit down and think through, hey, what is something that’s performing really well on Instagram. Whether that be Abby, who’s social media manager on the team, Jenna who is really involved with Pinch of Yum Instagram as well. Emily, who is working with the video side of things. All of you coming together and saying, like, okay, let’s look at metrics and do that. But it’s not necessarily something you’re just kind of doing haphazardly as you open the app.

Lindsay Ostrom: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Lindsay Ostrom: Was that a question, I don’t know.

Bjork Ostrom: No. It was a statement.

Lindsay Ostrom: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Correct. Anytime that I don’t ask a question, you can just defer to me by saying …

Lindsay Ostrom: Good job.

Bjork Ostrom: Good job. The point being with that, engagement is what you’re looking at as it relates to growth. So you’re looking at comments, you’re looking at likes, you’re looking at video views, things like that. Can you talk through what one of those meetings might look like? So when you have a social media meeting and you’re looking at things that are getting engagement, knowing that, hey, we’re going to use these as kind of the metric for growth, then what? You find something that did really well, what do you do with that?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. So in those meetings, and I was just going to pull one of these up so I can see, so I have it in front of me. So the two main things we look at are just the general engagement rate. So like what percentage of people who saw the content engaged with it, took an action, saved it, shared it, liked it commented, whatever. So that’s an ongoing rate that we monitor. And that’s just, I feel like an overall health indicator of the page and of the account and of the content.

Lindsay Ostrom: But another thing that we look at is specifically top content. So we will filter out like, you know, for May, for the month of May, these were the top five video posts. For the month of May, these are the top five photo post. And then within that, it’s not just like these were the top and the end. It’s like these were the top pieces of content, what is consistent about these and what are, like, we basically just guess, we try to look and figure out, it’s like a big puzzle every time we try to figure out what was it about this that we think people might have liked. And we look for patterns. So we’re often looking for things like, were these posted at a similar time, were they posted on a similar day. Were they weekends, were they weekdays.

Lindsay Ostrom: But even deeper than some of those metricy type things, we look at the content itself and we say things like, oh, was this a vegetarian recipe, was this a dessert, was this five ingredients, was this, did this include the full recipe in the caption or did it have a link? Was this something I had already posted on Instagram stories? We just make a lot of educated guesses within the space of like top performing content. And the reason, like what we’re trying to guess that is what are the elements that have made this successful that we can now take to create more successful content, which in turn fuels our engagement and keeps that like positive snowball going.

Lindsay Ostrom: So there’s a ton of things that we look at in those meetings but I feel like those are some of the most important, would be the actual engagement percentage, and then also the top content, and specifically with the top content, like the patterns.

Lindsay Ostrom: The one other thing with that that I was going to say is that we will look at some other areas, which is why I’m looking to pull this up, just give me one second. Right here. Okay. We will look at things like competitors. So, we’ll identify other pages that are either of a similar size or sharing similar content, and we analyze their numbers. And we look at like, okay, what’s their engagement percentage, to kind of help us give us a sense of like are we kind of on par with what other people are or are we way below or we way above, and that fluctuates. That just allows us again, to give us like a benchmark of, obviously, we measure against our own engagement as well.

Lindsay Ostrom: But like, we really look at a lot of different, I think people would be surprised if they knew like how much time we spent and how much we really look at the numbers for each thing. We’ll even look at down to the specifics of things like, did we include a teaser on this, like a little video teaser or what is the angle of the picture or is this a recipe that’s been archived and been reshared or is this something that’s brand new? All those different things are like pieces of our puzzle.

Lindsay Ostrom: I’m just looking at this right now. So we have averages, averages over time just show view averages, competitors. And looking at, again, engagement with competitors and just seeing, I think like one of the interesting things with competitors is we have, we’re not on the same level as like BuzzFeed Tasty, for example, but we have them listed as one of our competitors because they’re sharing the type of content that we like to share, which is all food content.

Lindsay Ostrom: But being able to see like, okay, obviously, we have a lot less fewer followers than them but how are we doing in comparison to BuzzFeed Tasty in terms of engagement? And we’re actually doing great, you know what I mean? Because when we look at, not just looking at followers, not using that as the main indicator of how well you’re landing with people, then I feel like it frees you up to like understand your content and how it’s resonating with people in a different and more valuable way.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup. So do you have an example of one of those discoveries that you had that then informed a content decision that was, like that decision was affirmed or your gut guess as to why something was successful is like, hey, we did this and then we actually experienced success again because of our time analyzing and looking at content?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. So maybe a good example would be like last fall, when I was out for maternity leave, we decided to, like we previously hadn’t done a ton of stuff with sharing like archived content, pulling stuff out of the archives, we pretty much kept it all new, new content being shared on Instagram. And when I came back from maternity leave and we kind of reviewed the numbers of what had been most popular over those few months that I had been out, it was like, and I had scheduled some stuff out and like done some kind of newish stuff for the in between. But like all the top stuff was archived stuff, was stuff that I had done two years ago, three years ago, last year. Like nothing, not nothing that was brand new, but like, point being and the takeaway from that was like, oh, people on Instagram, you know, on the blog it might be different.

Lindsay Ostrom: People might feel like, hey, I already saw that. Like, this is something that I remember. I’ve been following this for years and I remember this. But on Instagram, it’s kind of almost more like Pinterest in that way. People might find your one piece of content on the discover tab or they might find it in other places besides just on the listing of your feed. And so that really informed our decision to continue pretty heavily sharing our archived content and like our, kind of the stuff that has worked before, is going to work again so let’s share it again. Let’s keep bringing that, cycling that stuff through.

Lindsay Ostrom: And at the point when we’re analyzing this and we start to find like, hey, you know what, people, this isn’t engaging for people, they’re done with this. Like, we’ve shared this video now three times and it seems like it’s dying out, then, okay, then we pull it out. But at this point, like, wow, people still, what people have loved in the past they continue to love. And so that informs us to say, like, hey, this is valuable to people and we’re going to keep sharing it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup, that’s great. So, we cannot go through all this stuff because it’s a ton of stuff but we have this playbook event that’s coming up. And that’s free to attend where we jump into, we actually go through each one of these. And we talk about for you, Lindsay, how you’ve made decisions kind of tying back to the way that we started the conversation. You have these rules, you kind of have this playbook that is this in your head, it’s taking that out and saying, how do we create a framework for other people to replicate this, for other people to have their own framework.

Bjork Ostrom: So, the event, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/playbook and sign up for that. It’ll be a live broadcasted event to start. And then we go to a pre-recorded webinar that you and I did Lindsay, and there’ll be some screen shares and things that we can’t do in a podcast, which is really nice. And then you’ll be available for some Q&A at the end of it. But nice to be able to see some of these things, it’s kind of hard to talk through some of the visual elements of Instagram, especially on a podcast. But we’re going to walk through each one of the different seven areas that we outlined as important areas that you said, hey, as I think about Pinch of Yum, as I think about what I’ve built, as I think about the framework that I view Pinch of Yum’s Instagram operating within, these are the things that I think are really important.

Bjork Ostrom: So we’re going to be talking through each one of those, it’s going to be great. And it’ coming up, for those of you that listen to the podcast in real time, it’s coming up a week from today, that is July 16. So, sign up for that. And even if you can’t attend live during the day, even if you can’t attend live, you can watch a replay that’ll be available for 24 hours after.

Bjork Ostrom: So, we’re coming to the end. Lindsey, is there anything that you’d want to leave people with in terms of, as it relates to this kind of specific category? So Instagram, building a following, how to do that not only in a way that is successful, where you can leverage it into or not leverage it, where you can share whatever the word was that you used, but that you can take this thing that you’ve built, and have it be a part of your business, but also have a healthy relationship with it? How do those two things coexist? Any advice that you’d have for people who are looking to have that be part of their business, their blog, this thing that they’re building?

Lindsay Ostrom: My advice is to, feels a little repetitive but to make a playbook. And it doesn’t have to be our playbook. I mean, it would be great if it is and I think you guys will get a lot of value out of it if you guys end up coming and want one of these resources that we’ve put together for you. But even if not, like even if it’s just your own, just right now you just want to take 15 minutes and like think through some things and jot down some notes, like making decisions about how you’re going to operate within this space, Instagram, is just super important in taking that weight off your shoulders so that you don’t have to decide every time.

Lindsay Ostrom: I think more rules equals more freedom. And I said that at the beginning and I really believe that. Like I think a lot of us, what we don’t realize is how much we actually thrive with some guidelines and structure and boundaries around the way that we operate. And that doesn’t mean that you can ever break them, it actually allows you to break them better and to know how to go outside of that in a way that like still fits within your big picture goals.

Lindsay Ostrom: But I would just really encourage people to take the time to think through like, think through the why, think through what are you hoping to get out of this, think through how do I feel when I fill in the blank. And again, we’re going to provide like the framework for that if you feel like you want. If you feel like you want help walking through that and you want like a little more guidance. But that’s my advice is just like make decision and then stick with those decisions and like enjoy the mental freedom that comes from having some of those rules pre-established so you don’t have to always be thinking about that stuff and have it top of mind as you work within this particular app.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome. Lindsay, thanks so much for coming on for talking about this. I know that I benefit a lot from your thoughts and ideas around this and it’s always fun to share those with the world as well. Pinch of Yum is the Instagram account for all food content. And then you also have your personal content you mentioned a couple times, you want to share that in case people are interested in following along there?

Lindsay Ostrom: I would love to. So yeah, Pinch of Yum, just @PinchofYum or Lindsay M. Ostrom, just a little bit obnoxious, we’ve been trying to get just regular Lindsay Ostrom for a while now, but I don’t know, nobody’s using it and can’t figure out how to get it. So if you are out there and you have Lindsay Ostrom, people think people actually think that it’s Lindsey Momstom because, have I told you that? Like your dad thought that I think and like multiple people that we know in real life are like oh, that’s so cute, Lindsay Momstom. I’m like no, no, no, no this is not Lindsay Momstrom. This is my middle initial’s M, Lindsay M. Ostrom. So anyways, Lindsay. And I’ve also had people send me an email, Hi, Lindsay Mostrom, like think that that is my last name. Not my last name.

Bjork Ostrom: Not quite as bad as emails that I get for letters that say, Dear Mrs. Bjork.

Lindsay Ostrom: No, it’s not that bad, it’s not that bad. But Lindsay M. Ostrom is my personal Instagram page.

Bjork Ostrom: And if you know how to get an unavailable Instagram account that nobody’s using but you can’t switch to, let us know. Send me an email. Foodbloggerpro.com.

Lindsay Ostrom: We’ll bake you a lot of cookies and send you a lot of treats.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. And then the event one more time is foodbloggerpro.com/playbook And we’re going to be walking through each one of those seven steps and talking a little bit more in depth and sharing some visuals as well along the way. So be sure to check that out if you are interested. Otherwise, we will catch you on the other side. Make it a great day.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap.

Lindsay Ostrom: Thanks.

Bjork Ostrom: Thanks Linds. That was great.

Lindsay Ostrom: Yup.

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