Follow Friday: Boston Foodies
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If you want to get some publicity for the collection of high-quality latte pictures you’ve taken at your corner cafe, then look no further than Boston Foodies, an Instagram account founded and curated by head foodie Tiffany Lopinksy. Lopinsky crowdsources photos of meals from around the city in an attempt to promote local restaurants and to push people to break their routines and find new spots to try. From doughnuts to dumplings, Boston Foodies features everything from cafes, to bakeries, to fine-dining restaurants to give you a little taste of everything that Boston’s food scene has to offer.
Here, Lopinsky talks inspiration, favorite contributors, and more. Warning: Don’t browse this account on an empty stomach.
How do you manage the Boston Foodies Instagram account?
I just run it by myself from my phone. I usually feature photos that people tag me in or send me through direct message—usually whatever seems exciting and new. I try not to repeat a lot of different places.
What inspired you to start the account?
This past summer, I had come across a lot of New York City-based food accounts on Instagram. I thought the idea of using Instagram as a restaurant discovery tool was a cool idea, so I started to see if there was a Boston-based food Instagram account that was doing the same sort of thing. I didn’t find one, so I decided to make my own. At first I was just posting my own photos and eventually people started submitting photos to me. Then I began to feature those as well.
Where do you fit into Boston’s food scene? Have you worked in a restaurant, are you a photographer, or are you just someone who loves food?
I’m just a food lover. I never worked in the food scene. I’ve lived in the Boston area my entire life and I love trying new restaurants. When I was looking for a way to discover new restaurants in Boston, that’s how the account was born. Managing the account has allowed me to explore that even more because I see all the submissions that people send me.
You started about six months ago and you have 13,000 followers. How did you grow that community in such a short period of time?
I was really surprised at first because I think some of the techniques that people use to get followers is to follow and then unfollow people, but I never did that. I think I got a lot of followers when I started posting pictures that other people would submit to me. People always comment on the photos or tag their friends and say, “Look at this picture from Atlantic Fish Company. Let’s try this next week,” and then their friends notice the account and they follow it.
Of all the people you crowdsource photos from, do you have frequent contributors?
Definitely. There’s one Instagramer, @minnniekim. I post a lot of her pictures. She has really good food pictures. Recently, it’s also a variety of people, which is exciting. I like to post new Instagramers to the account.
Can you describe the voice and tone of your social media in three words?
Adventurous, exciting, and delicious.
What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or outspoken feedback you’ve gotten?
A lot of times I see comments of people telling a story of something that happened at a restaurant. I remember there was one Indian restaurant where friends were exchanging some very funny comments like, “Do you remember that after we ate at this restaurant, we ended up playing Xbox all night at your apartment?” It’s funny to see stories like that happening over an Instagram post.
So it’s a way for people to reconnect with a restaurant in addition to discovering new ones?
Definitely. I think that it’s cool for me to see people commenting, “When we get back to Boston we should reconnect and go to the Friendly Toast.” It’s just cool that the account can serve as a publicity tool for local restaurants, but also a discovery tool for people in the Boston area to rediscover food.
Do you have any restaurants or food that are your personal favorites to photograph and feature on the Instagram?
I get a lot of submissions from the cafe Tatte Bakery. The pictures are always really cool there. I also love Henrietta’s Table and Sound Bites in Somerville. Now, I get so many submissions that a lot of times if I take a photo when I go to a restaurant, I’ll post it on my own account.
What are the photos that are the most popular on Instagram? Are they dessert photos, breakfast photos—what do people like to see the most?
Dessert is really popular. A really popular new thing is doughnuts. People post a lot of photos from Union Square Donuts and the new Blackbird Doughnuts. I’ve been getting so many doughnuts lately. I want to post all of them, but it helps to have some variety on the page.
Do you post everything that’s submitted or do you sift through it to make sure you don’t post too many things like sandwiches?
I definitely can’t post all of them because I get so many now. Some days I’ll get 20 to 40 submissions, so I sort through them. The number one factor is if it looks good. If it’s visually appealing, I’m more likely to post it, but I also try to have some variety not just between the restaurants but between different types of food. I’m not going to post seven sushi pictures in a row because I think that would get boring. I usually post a lot of breakfast pictures because I get a lot of those and also because they’re really good. I usually only do between one and three photos a day.
Why do you limit it?
I don’t want it to become a burden for people to see 10 pictures a day on their feed. Posting that many pictures would kind of take away from it. I want people to explore the restaurant that I post. The other day, somebody submitted this photo from Green T Coffee Shop of a bagel sandwich. It got the most likes of any picture I’ve ever posted, which I thought was funny, and now I really want to try it. If people see Green T Coffee Shop and say “Oh, I wonder what that is,” they might actually look it up and go there. I think if I posted 10 photos a day, people would be less likely to do that.
Do you have any plans to add a Twitter, Pinterest, or another account? Or do you just want to keep it simple with the photos?
I’ve been thinking about that. I might make a Twitter account just for people who don’t have Instagram if they want to follow on Twitter. Or maybe I’ll make a website. I’ve seen some other food accounts do that, and I think it’s a nice way to have alternate media.
You’re not the only Instagram account covering Boston food, but you’re the most popular. What makes you stand out?
I try to get a variety of different places in the Boston area. I don’t do just Boston, but I also try not to do places too far away from Boston. I have Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Jamaica Plain—places near here. I just try to keep consistent with what I post and the type of post. I keep it pretty simple. I just say where it is and try to tag the location. I try to stay consistent with the branding of the account.