How a sushi fan drew 47K Instagram followers as a micro-influencer

Three years into her quest to highlight the top sushi sources in Philadelphia, Binh Nguyen shares her secrets for turning a culinary passion into a huge and devoted online following.

How a sushi fan drew 47K Instagram followers as a micro-influencer

My sushi addiction turned me into a micro-influencer.

In 2016, I started @Philly_Sushi, an Instagram account that combined two of my favorite things, sushi and the city of Philadelphia. With so many local sushi restaurants with wide-ranging menus, I wanted to help fellow enthusiasts find the best spots.

Three years after creating my account, I’ve gained over 47,000 Instagram followers.

The growth of Philly_Sushi—while organic—was laborious and strategic. That included building collaborative relationships with numerous sushi restaurants in Philadelphia and working alongside other food influencers, all to elevate my page through consistent, engaging content and with my network of brand ambassadors fueling the page’s success.

This journey has reinforced my long-held views on the boundless power of social media, where a seemingly simple idea can proliferate into an epochal platform. To that point, by 2020  influencer marketing is expected to reach $101 billion.

As more and more opportunities emerge for micro-influencers, there has never been a better time to pursue your passion on social media, but you have to stand out. Here’s how:

Choose quality over quantity

Because Philly_Sushi was built upon careful curation of the best sushi that Philadelphia has to offer, focusing on quality of posts rather than quantity has helped me cultivate deep trust among my followers. They realize that each post conveys a unique message meant to benefit them, rather than posting mediocre content for the sake of volume. Quality of content will always outperform quantity, and brand managers who embrace that thinking will stand out.

Create real value for your audience

I founded Philly_Sushi on the concept of creating real and authentic value for my followers. This is crucial, and it has allowed me to become a go-to source for information on the best sushi in Philadelphia.

Each piece of content I post has a unique purpose: It’s meant to help people find premier sushi through sharing new restaurants, menu items and offerings. Brands that base their social media outreach on this fundamental idea can have the same success. Make your passion distinctive with the help of a hashtag.

Know that engagement is the key to growth.

Engaging your followers is crucial to building a lasting, meaningful relationship with them. Do not fall into the trap of posting and forgetting. Instead of ignoring your followers, take the time to respond to them.

“Liking” comments, answering questions and providing actionable feedback are great ways to validate and reinforce a relationship with followers. The time spent engaging with them will help to cement their long-term interest and loyalty. Make sure people feel that they’re more than just followers.

Pursue your passion. 

Philly_Sushi is more than a side hustle for me; it’s become a personal and professional game-changer that has given me joy and purpose. I gained over 47,000 followers in less than three years, and that spark of influence has opened the door to countless meaningful experiences, opportunities and relationships.

Social media’s dominance in our everyday lives is increasing and widespread, and organizations that take a tailored and strategic approach to it will see successes in engagement, growth, value and perhaps thousands of new followers.

Who would have thought my favorite food would turn me into a micro-influencer? What can your passion do for you?

Binh Nguyen is a senior account executive at Flackable. Follow her on Twitter @Binh_4thewin.

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