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Baton Rouge food Instagrammers are supporting local restaurants through content

If you dine out often, odds are you’ve seen more than a few people snap photos of their plates before digging in. Though some may be taking pictures of their meals to send to friends or save in their camera rolls, others are there to make content.

Baton Rouge food Instagrammers give locals the ins and outs of the city’s ever-growing restaurant scene, and some have followings that have climbed to more than 10,000 fans. As their followings grow, their posts are helping local restaurants reach larger audiences in a new world of digital advertising. 

Jordan Basham, owner of @wheretogeaux225, began her account back in 2018 as a food log, helping her friends try new things while dining in the city. Today, she has over 10,000 followers, with each post gaining hundreds of likes. Now, Basham says restaurants approach her about working together. Usually, this means restaurants will invite her in to try some dishes free of charge in exchange for a post. But some places offer to pay her to make posts.

“Things really took off during the pandemic for me,” Basham says. “I took that time to showcase restaurants that were offering takeout options to show Baton Rouge that there were ways to still support restaurants in that time.”

She won’t promote anything she doesn’t get to try herself, though. She says it’s her way of being “as authentic as possible.” This also shows her followers a realistic representation of menu items. 

“Everything on my Instagram is something I’ve put in my mouth, tried and liked. People can tell when things are staged and plated perfectly,” she says. “On my page, you’ll see something that you can expect to get if you go out and order it yourself.”

Molly Rivers, a manager at Elsie’s Plate and Pie in Mid City, runs Elsie’s Instagram and knows firsthand how hard it can be to maintain an active social media account while working in a busy restaurant environment. Adding user-generated content to the brand’s feed has been a big help, she says.

“I try to post three to five times a week,” Rivers says. “Other than that, I share videos, posts and stories from foodies and customers on our story as a way to keep us on everyone’s feed. I’m not the best photographer anyway, so having real people come in and post allows us to have good content on our page all the time.”

Elsie’s also advertises in magazines and newsletters around the area, but Rivers says she thinks the best way to reach customers these days is by having an active social media presence.

“Everyone always has a phone in their hands and is constantly looking on social media,” Rivers says. “I think it’s really cool to see people sharing our food on their accounts. It’s a way for our product to reach customers immediately.” 

Food influencers don’t need to have thousands of followers like Basham to help out restaurants like Elsie’s. Basham says if food Instagram accounts have a local following, they can help eateries reach their target market.

Margaret Sturdivant is an LSU senior and the face behind a newer account, @margsformarg. She started the Instagram page in 2021 as an excuse to eat out more with her friends. Over a year later, Sturdivant has gained nearly 1,000 followers, and her photos have been reposted by cafes and restaurants in the area.

 

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A post shared by Marg (@margsformarg)

“I always get so excited when a restaurant reaches out for my photos,” she says. “Baton Rouge has so many amazing places to eat, and I’m just trying to support the places I love and inspire people to try places they wouldn’t normally gravitate to. … My camera roll is filled with food pictures after a night out, so I figured a food Instagram would be a great way to share my meals with others.”

Like Sturdivant, Basham agrees that launching a food influencer account is not about handouts. 

“I never go to a restaurant and drop the name of my account in the hopes of getting free perks,” she says. “It’s not about getting a free meal or getting paid for a post. The best part is seeing results in the community. My goal is really just to support every local restaurant that I possibly can with my account.”


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