Introducing Yasmin aka FoodieJo, someone who built a successful food critique blog, which is now being followed by over 8,000 people, in three years only. If you want to know more about her motivation and developing the FoodieJo brand keep reading this article!
How did you manage to promote your initiative?
I started 3 years ago. I was the first female restaurant reviewer in Jordan. It didn’t get a lot of attention till the second year. At first, I was doing it for fun. I didn’t care about the followers. And suddenly, people started talking about me. Then restaurants noticed that and started inviting me to try their food. Initially, it was self-promotion but recently I have started using facebook ads. You need to keep up with the competition.
I feel that instagram is more effective than facebook. On fb you see everyone. My grandma is on fb. On Instagram you mainly see teenagers, twenties and thirties. So this is the perfect audience for me. FoodieJo Instagram is more active and more important. Whenever I publish a post on fb, I have like 4k followers but then the reach is only 60 people. I feel that our generation is running away from facebook and going towards Instagram. It’s very cool: all about pictures.
You have over 4k followers on FB and over 8k followers on Instagram. What is your strategy to keep people visiting your page?
Recently, I have been making more videos. I feel that images are becoming old. Videos are the next thing. People are more likely to listen to you speaking than read a lengthy post.
Are you trying to build your brand based on personal profile or just restaurant reviews?
When I first started it, it was a hobby and I didn’t want anything out of it. But when I got more followers, I started listening to them. When people would be like: we want to see more of you. We want to see you cutting a piece of cake, I’d do it. I would add my hands to the photos. Me reaching out for sushi. Me eating a piece of cake. When people see a photo of food only, they think that it’s an ad. But when they see hands, it seems more real. This changed also how my theme looked like. I added hands to my logo.
What is the core strength of the brand that you built?
I think it’s honesty and ability to listen. When people say that the picture I took looks too professional, I listen. I wouldn’t publish a professional photo so that they don’t feel it’s an add. When people say: we would like to see more of you: I add my hands in the photo. When people are like: we miss your long reviews: I’d write a long review. I listen to the audience that is following me. I’m also very honest. I do it for the people, not for the restaurants. I don’t mind telling restaurants that their food sucks.
What would be your advice to people who want to build their fan page?
Do it because it’s fun. Don’t take it seriously. Because you know, social media, blogging is not serious, it’s fun. Always be honest, listen to your audience. Don’t try to be someone else. Sometimes, I get many messages being like: we want to be like you, what’s your secret? Don’t try to follow. Try to come up with your own content, your own personality.
What were some of your most successful promotional campaigns?
I think that the most successful one was 4 days ago. It was an add saying ‘follow me to know the best Ammani restaurants’ and then a picture of me. People knew that if they click on it they will know all the best restaurants immediately! I realized that good promotion doesn’t mean spending money on ads only. You have to take care of the content. If your content sucks and you’re paying money, your money is going to waste. Because people won’t interact. So make sure that you have good content.
What is a good content?
Simple, short and attractive!
Why do actually you write about food?
Obviously, there are a lot of people who eat to live. I’m not one of them: I live to eat (laugh). I loved food ever since I was a little kid to the extent that my parents often removed the dishes from the table before I worked through them, in fear that I would get too fat. I would ask my mum to cook mansaf over and over again.
I’m super passionate about food and I really like telling people about my dining experiences.
How do you keep yourself updated about the new places in town?
Honestly, Amman is a small town so whenever a new restaurant pops up, people start talking about it. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of invites from restaurants to come and try their food. A lot of my followers would also pm me and be like: ‘Yasmin, there is this new place. You should try it. You should order one, two, three… and sometimes they would also tell me the price because they know that I’m interested in all these aspects’.
People say that Amman is split into East and West and that the differences are pretty stark. Is that the case with the food scene as well?
West Amman together with Jabal al-Webdeh and Jabal Amman have different types of restaurants: many of them are fancy and modern. You can find sushi in West Amman but not in East Amman. East is more traditional in terms of food.
Do you usually inform restaurant owners about your visit to their place or you act more as a secret customer?
If they don’t invite me, they wouldn’t know who I am. Why? Number one: I’m scared that if they know that I’m a food blogger, they may pay extra efforts: try to make their food look or taste better. Number Two: Sometimes if I do tell them, they may think that I just want to get food for free. I think it’s kind of cheap, so I prefer to stay anonymous.
Thanks a lot Yasmine for the great interview!