Marisa Goldstein left, Ari Richman right
We got to sit down for a little Q&A with Marisa Goldstein co-founder of @Nashville_Eats, the largest food instagram account in Nashville. Alongside Marisa in running the account is Ari Richman. They graduated Vanderbilt in 2018 and absolutely love Nashville. Ari is from Chicago and moved back there to work in real estate development and Marisa moved back to her hometown in New York to pursue a career in advertising. Both are absolute foodies and love the opportunities they have had to try all of Nashville's best restaurants.
So first off, how did @nashville_eats get started?
We started the Instagram the first month of our freshman year at Vanderbilt when we were out to dinner with a big group of friends. It was kind of a way to explore Nashville with friends because we were all from out of state. The account actually started as 9 of us and dwindled down to just Ari and I as it got more serious with more followers and required more work.
Did you ever imagine @nashville_eats would get as big as it is today?
We never imagined it becoming as big as we are now, only because we made it casually kind of just for our friends. Once we started getting into the ten thousand range, Ari and I knew it would blow up especially because of the growing food scene in Nashville. At that point we knew we needed to put in work to keep it a high quality resource for people in Nashville and people looking to visit.
What's it like running a food account with so many other accounts in Nashville? Would you say its competitive?
I would say it’s more collaborative than competitive because of the nature of being a foodie. The people who are behind the screen running the accounts are so incredible and we get to meet them at various events across town. Everyone’s in it because they love the food and hospitality aspect, not because they’re looking to have the most followers. That being said, the amount of accounts that are popping up is so crazy, so it can be hard to grow if you’re just starting out unless you have a unique perspective.
How do you explain what you to do to people who don't understand Instagram and influencer marketing?
We always say it’s a lot more work than people think. First of all, social media is on 24/7 so for us to have an active presence, we’re responding to comments, messages, tags and hashtags almost all of the time. We’re also behind the scenes talking to restaurants, PR agencies and event marketers to bring as much interesting content and information to our followers. One day earlier this week we had invites to almost ten events before 12pm, which is kind of crazy if you think about it. It’s a lot to take on which is why it’s great we have a team of interns helping us out otherwise it’d be hard to keep up our presence at events and with unique content on our page, which is a huge part of being an influencer especially when there are so many other accounts. As an influencer you need to make sure that you’re connecting with people however that may be. We never show our faces on Instagram, but that’s not what makes an “influencer” it’s about having people trust your opinion, so in our case, food recommendations.
How do you think Nashville's food scene differs from other cities?
Nashville is hugely different from other cities because of the growth that the city is experiencing right now. We’re from out of town (New York and Chicago) and Nashville’s food is so unique because chefs here are able to get really creative with their menu’s because of all of the competition and food driven community so it creates a huge blend of cuisines that is really awesome. What’s cool with the growth is that you have the classic Nashville foods but there’s also an influx of modern twists on classics which makes it fun for us as foodies.
How do you approach new business?
A lot of the time restaurants will reach out to us through Instagram or email asking us to come in and try their food out or invite us to events and tastings. We also are always reaching out to restaurants that we like or that have recently opened to tell them who we are and that we’d love to come by. It’s really all about building relationships though, whether they reach out first or we do, so that we can be the first to know about events, new menus, new clients, etc.
If someone is wanting to start a food account, what advice would you give them?
Make sure that you have a unique perspective or a fun voice that differentiates you from the crowd! With so many food accounts, it’s so easy to blend in so it’s important to change things up with QUALITY photos. Quality is so key - no one likes looking at dark or blurry pictures of food. Have all of your friends and family follow you and tell them to tell their friends (that’s how we started) and you’ll start growing in no time.
Anything else you want to share?
The best part about this account is that we don’t take it too seriously - it started out as a fun thing and still is exactly that, except with a lot more work attached! We try to make it a fun experience,
especially for all of the people who help us out running to events and tastings.