Occasionally on my podcast, I like to interview dietitians or personal trainers who have specific questions – like dietitians and social media strategy, or how to grow your email list. I treat it like a dietitian coaching call, so the interviewees get personalized advice, and you (the listener) get to listen in and learn from your colleagues. Each episode covers 2-3 topics, depending on the person’s questions.


Rose:                     Alright. So my first question relates to dietitians and social media. I was wondering if you have any insight as to how to better utilize social media, in particular Instagram, to convert followers to clients.

Jessica:                 That’s a good question for a dietitian coaching call because I think a lot of dietitians are like “oh yay I have like 10,000 followers!” And I really often want to message them and be like, okay but how many of those have turned into clients? Followers are great! It does give us, you know, a sense of credibility with other people and that kinda thing but, it doesn’t really help me a whole lot if they don’t turn into clients.

Rose:                     Totally.

So, specifically Instagram, the first thing I would say is making sure you’re providing value, really actionable take-aways for people.

So what are you giving them? And it doesn’t have to be daily, there’s a lot people who are like “you have to post everyday on Instagram.” You don’t. You really really don’t. What you should be doing every day, and this is how I have always gotten my clients from Instagram, is engaging with other people. Going and finding where, who are your ideal clients. Like maybe, you want to work with other entrepreneurs. So then, you would start following other entrepreneurs and engaging with their content. And I mean genuine engagement, not just commenting “okay cool, like, that’s so cool!” You know?

‘Cause we all hate those comments. But genuine engagement on their stories and on their posts consistently. Every time I’ve done this, and engaged with people, it’s never been anything, well I shouldn’t say never, most of the time it hasn’t even been about design. Like you, you’re not a designer, Rose, so you’re not posting design kind of things on Instagram probably. You might occasionally post something like “oh I’m working on my website today,” or “doing this to my business today,” but you’re not like “hey! Look at that!” And I’m like “oh!” Like giving you design feedback or something, you know?

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 But you are, I mean I’ve interacted with people who, they’re doing cartwheels and I’m like “oh that’s so cool! Like I can’t do cartwheels!” I mean really silly stuff.

Jessica:                 So just engaging with them… I will say ’cause some people are like “well I don’t want to follow a ton of these people because I like my feed the way it is, or I don’t like seeing all types of posts,” whatever …

Rose:                     Right.

Jessica:                 You could just, do some research. So, the next question I have as part of this dietitian coaching call is: who are your ideal clients? How would you define them?

Rose:                     That’s a good question. So my ideal client is a woman, ages 23-55, tech-savvy, history of dieting, somebody who is sick of dieting and wants to create a positive relationship with food and their body.

Jessica:                 Yeah. Okay. So the first thing I would say, which this is a little off topic, away from social media, but I would recommend really narrowing that age range. Because when we’re creating content on social media, we want something that is intriguing and engaging with that ideal client. So, what’s engaging and interesting to a 23 year-old and a 55 year-old …

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 … Is going to be completely different, and I know that we always post about providing things that are of value so we’re probably not posting a whole lot of “Hey I’m watching this TV show!” or you know… But we do include personal things. But, when it comes to providing value, if you decide to target 23-30 year-olds, okay so those women are likely either running a business or working a day job. They might be in school. So you could do a lot of quick lunches, ’cause maybe they also have kids. So you can talk more about trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle with kids or something. Not that you have to target moms all the time but, whereas someone who’s 55, they probably don’t … their kids might be older, I mean they might be retired, they might not. It depends. So they’re living a totally different lifestyle.

Jessica:                 I say all that because it would be easier for you to target people and engage, create content with a smaller group of women. But going back to social media, what the original reason I asked you about your ideal clients is, we can look at hashtags that they’re using. You can look at hashtags that female entrepreneurs are using. I know you didn’t say you want, specifically, to work with female entrepreneurs but, that’s an easy place to start. I mean, you could go to my profile and look at the hashtags I’m using, and then, and this is something I do ’cause I engage with people I follow but I also go engage with people that I’m not following. So I will click on a hashtag and the, go comment on like 10 of the most popular or most recent posts and engage with them.

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 And sometimes I have to skip past one or two ’cause it’s a quote, or they’re like “summer vibes!” And I have nothing genuine to say to that. So I’m like “Next!” But I engage with those people and every time I do this, I get more followers, I get more interaction on my own posts. Every single time I have gotten a client from Instagram, it has been through engaging with people. It has never been from me posting “hey I launched this new website,” “hey here’s a logo I did.” It has never been from something I’ve posted of recent work.

Rose:                     Yeah, that makes sense.

Jessica:                 I am a firm believer in you don’t have to post everyday on Instagram, but rather you should engage with someone everyday on Instagram. And engaging means commenting and liking, not just liking. So it doesn’t take a massive amount of time, you know it’s not like “I’m going to engage with 1,000 people today.” But, when you consistently engage with some people, so let’s say you stumble upon someone. Let’s say you’ve never seen my Instagram profile, we don’t know each other, but you come to my Instagram and you’re like “man, Jessica looks like she could be my ideal client.” If you engage with me once, I’m like “cool, like who’s this person, okay cool.” I might look at your profile, I might not. But when you start consistently engaging with me, I’m like “who is this Rose? Who is she?”

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 And then I might follow you, and that’s literally happened to me several times where I just am engaging, like voting on polls, responding to people’s stories, commenting on their posts, and I’ve literally had people who will send me a DM back and be like “Oh haha like thanks! Yeah it was so fun! You know I was actually… I’ve been thinking about doing a website, and I looked at your profile and I really like what you post, and you’re really helpful.” It’s like, I was just commenting on the lunch you just made.

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

So all that to say, do continue to provide really valuable, simple, actionable things on Instagram as a dietitian.

Make sure you’re engaging with people consistently, and then, if you’re not already, use stories, Instagram stories consistently. Because, a lot of people are paying more attention to stories than posts, and research backs that up. That’s not me just throwing out random information. The data shows more people are watching stories. It’s totally okay for you to like “hey I’m making this lunch today,” and walk them through, have a few different slides or videos, whatever you want to call them, of you doing this little process. Then say at the end say “do you want to meal plan? I offer meal plans,” or tying something in to something you’re doing, that usually resonates better and converts better than just all the sudden, someone watches your story and out of the blue you’re just like “Hey! I offer meal plans, here you go!”

Jessica:                 It feels like an ad. Whereas when people are really engaged and like “man, this meal looks awesome.” ‘Cause I know there’s a lot of dietiians who I’ve seen in just the last week posting about how often people think dietitians just eat salads, egg whites, [crosstalk 00:09:28] eat totally bland stuff, and you’re like “no, we eat normal, we’re normal people. We still eat other things. Yes we eat healthy but, I’m not saying I don’t ever eat chocolate.

Jessica:                 So I think if you can show, “hey, this is my meal today and now I can make you a meal plan,” or whatever service that you want to kind of pitch to them, that will probably convert better.

Rose:                     That makes sense. Do you have any sort of process with your stories? Because, I often will share other dietitians stuff because I think it’s really great and valuable information. Then I’m kind of like “okay, what else is valuable?” I don’t want to be somebody who’s constantly on Instagram stories just because that’s…

Jessica:                 Just because.

Rose:                     Yeah, I’m not gonna spend my life on Instagram stories.

Jessica:                 Right.

Rose:                     So is there some sort of strategy, or…

Jessica:                 Yes and no. I don’t have like, every Monday I’m going to post 8 slides throughout my day, I’m not that specific, but I do take people kind of through my day. Because honestly, I am a firm believer that the reason that people watch more stories is because it’s less curated than our Instagram feeds and people like to see real life.

But I do think, as business owners, we need to also incorporate value and our business into those real life moments. You could just “hey, here I am eating breakfast, or I’m at the gym, whatever. Sitting down to work.” And then maybe, because this is something that really gets a lot of interaction with my own community, is I’m showing them “hey I’m working on this website,” and I might show them one or two quick things. Like “hey did you know you can do this in word press, or it’s important to do this on Squarespace.” In that moment I’m not pitching them “okay now, hire me to do your Squarespace website.” But, providing that value, but it’s still part of my day.

Jessica:                 So I’m not getting on there doing 15 different slides, you know people go on those long rants or, not even rants but sometimes they’re just talking, and it’s really long and so, people will stop watching. But it’s like “here’s two quick little things like “did you know you could do this in Squarespace? Hey this is a new thing!” So as you’re working with your clients, if there’s things you can show like show a picture or whatever, but it could be like “hey, I’m working on these meal plans, or I’m working on this program that I’m creating for clients,” or whatever. But I think it’s important to try, and I will say I’m not prefect at this, I think it’s important to try and create kind of a story throughout your day. And it doesn’t have to be fancy. But just checking in throughout the day, and it sounds funny but it’s like “hey I just finished eating lunch, now I’m out for a walk, now I’m doing a dietitian coaching call” you know, sharing that.

Jessica:                 Just showing people throughout your day what you’re doing. And for you as a dietitian, it doesn’t always have to be what you’re eating. You know?

Rose:                     Yeah.

Jessica:                 People know that you are a person, you do other things in your business. And I think especially dietitians, at least all the ones follow on Instagram, don’t show a lot of actual, behind the scenes, client work. Which I know, again, it doesn’t have to be like you’re showing their data, or you’re conversations, but it could be like “this is what I’m working on.”

Jessica:                 Maybe it’s just a screenshot. There’s times that I will just sit here and take a picture of my desk, and my computer, and say something about working on clients. Because really that means, sometimes it means I’m just answering a ton of emails, giving feedback, talking to people on Slack, that kind of thing. So, I can’t, or I don’t really want to show those conversations specifically, ’cause they’re private and everything but, it’s just saying “hey, I talk with my clients.” You know?

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 So I think just trying to check in throughout the day, just show little bits and pieces, and where you can say “hey I’m working on this meal plan. Pro tip: include a protein every time you eat,” I don’t know, something like that. And, I do know that you do get more views on your story when you have stories throughout the day.

Jessica:                 So if you just do 4 stories in the morning, and then you’re just gone for the rest of the day, you just don’t story It’s just because people who do story throughout the day, their new posts get them pushed to the front of the little, you know, those first 5 circles. So if you keep posting, you keep getting pushed back up to the front. And, also, I say all that, there’s definitely days, I’m sure if anybody listening to this who follows me on Instagram is like “um, you don’t post like that many stories every single day. Or you don’t do an entire “here’s my entire day” everyday.” No I don’t do it everyday. Like yesterday, I posted that I got Starbucks, then I posted I was gonna record a video, then I posted that I was done doing the video, and I think that was all I posted. I didn’t post all throughout the day, I only had 3 or 4 slides. So, sometimes you post less, sometimes you post a little more. Its okay.

Rose:                     So, my next question on this dietitian coaching call is that I have an email list. It’s not extensive by any means, but it is a list I was wondering on what tips you have to, or to grow your email list. And then, use that email list to build up my client base.

Jessica:                 Yes. So, it’s totally fine if you don’t have an extensive list right now. Everyone starts somewhere. I don’t even have a huge list. So my first question is do you have a free download available, or are you just like “hey join my newsletter?”

Rose:                     I have a freebie, yes.

Jessica:                 Awesome. Okay so that’s the first step. Because so many people are like “join my newsletter!” And I’m like “who in 2019 wants to join a newsletter?” I always tell people if you can not come up with a freebie, if you don’t have time, you’re working on it but you still want people to try and join, give your list a name: sunshine mail, happy mail, the bite. You can come up with any kind of name, doesn’t have to be fancy. A freebie of some sort is definitely going to be a better way to grow your list. So you already have one, do you have a blog?

Rose:                     Yes.

Jessica:                 Is your freebie linked, or is the sign up form for your freebie in each blog post?

Rose:                     It is on the header.

Jessica:                 Okay good. So then the other thing I would do is, do you promote it? Do you talk about it on social media?

Rose:                     Not really.

Jessica:                 Yeah. So you can talk about your freebie on social media and then, just like I mentioned earlier like “hey, tomorrow I’m gonna be emailing my list the 5 secrets, or the 7…” whatever you’re going to be talking about in your email and say “if you want that information, leave your email address below.” Use that little question box…

Rose:                     Oh yeah!

Jessica:                 …On the stories. And say “I you want these 5…” whatever, secrets, tips, recipes, “let me know and I will add you to my list.” So that’s an easy way to get that ’cause, especially on Instagram stories or really just Instagram in general, if you can make it instead of saying “go sign up in the link in my bio!” We’re lazy. People do not want to click to your bio, click the link, sign up on the form, all that jazz. And yes, it does mean more work on your end. It would be awesome if like 500 people responded and were like “yes! Sign up!” And you’d be like “oh my gosh this is awful.” But hopefully it’s a few at a time so it’s not overwhelming.

Rose:                     Yeah, it’d be fine.

Jessica:                 And you could do that with the freebie too. Maybe it’s like every, you make a note to yourself every Friday or every other Friday or whatever, you’re going to promote your freebie somehow on social media. It could be like this Friday it’s Instagram stories, next Friday it’s Facebook, the Friday after that it’s an Instagram post, you know, stuff like that.

So I think talking about your email opt-in more as a dietitian, that’s the key thing.

And then your emails itself, so two questions: how often are you emailing your list? And then what are your emails usually about?

Rose:                     So right now I’ve been trying to send out an email when I have a new blog post, that’s like once a month. And then I’ve also been trying to do like a round up of recipes, and other good blog posts, podcasts, things like that once a month as well.

Jessica:                 Awesome. Okay. So, once a month is good, but once a week is better.

Rose:                     Okay.

Jessica:                 Because, people… and I know a lot of people are like “oh but I don’t want to make people mad, or…” Okay, we unsubscribe from people all the time, it’s usually not out of anger. I did have a person last year who unsubscribed because I talked about Chick-Fil-A in my emails, that was kind of weird, but…

Rose:                     Are you serious?

Jessica:                 Yeah. But, people subscribe because they want to hear from you. People are more likely to remember you when you email them consistently. I mean, you did say you kind of have, it sounds like, 2 different once a month emails?

Rose:                     Right.

So if right now that’s sustainable, then keep with that. I always preach whatever is sustainable for dietitians.

Yes, I did just say that once a week emails are great, and perform better usually, but if you’re only going to be able to do once a week emails for like 2 months, and then you’re going to drop off the face of the Earth, then that served no purpose. So if those 2 emails are all you can do that’s fine. I would just alternate them so that basically you are sending an email every other week or so.

Jessica:                 So it could be like you send an email on this Wednesday, and then 2 weeks from then you send another email that Wednesday and that kind of thing so it feels a little more consistent than a little bit more spread out. But, emailing them about the blog post and those other recipes and that kind of stuff, that’s really goof ’cause it’s valuable information. I do try, especially, this would really apply more to the ones where you’re talking about the blog post, like your own blog post, because that’s generally what my own emails are like. I’m just like “hey, I have a new video, a new podcast, or whatever” I try, to provide some kind of value in the email itself, so that even if they don’t click on the link, they still get something out of it.

Rose:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessica:                 It might not be, obviously if they watch the video and its a tutorial, they’re gonna get a lot more value watching the full tutorial. I can’t provide that same amount of value in the email itself ’cause it’s totally different, it’s a tutorial. It’s a lot of meat in that video. But something that may spark something in them. If I’m talking about “oh I save a ton of time by using these different apps,” or whatever. They may go check out those apps, they may not read the blog post that goes in depth on the one, but at least they learned something. They learned about these new apps.

Jessica:                 Then, the other thing I would say with using your email list to get clients, it you do have to pitch yourself. You have to say like “I’m available for hire.” It doesn’t have to be every single email, I don’t say it in every single email. I probably don’t even say it often enough, but maybe it’s like once a month. Which I mean you only send 2 emails a month so that may seem… maybe it’s like, you make a note, every 5 emails or something. I’m gonna link to my services page and remind people. ‘Cause you would be surprised, it sounds funny, but people forget that they can hire us.

Rose:                     Right.

Jessica:                 I don’t understand why people think this, I’m not one of those people, I’m like if you’re a business owner I feel like I can hire you. Do you have a welcome sequence for your new email subscribers?

Rose:                     I’m not sure what you mean by that.

Jessica:                 Okay. So do you use Mail Chimp or…

Rose:                     I do.

Jessica:                 Okay so in Mail Chimp, they have the automation feature. And you can set this up so that when, let’s say I join your email list next week, you’ve set up this automation already, I would get a series of emails automatically that are outside of your blog and your recipe round ups. Its literally separate, it’s automated, that’s why it’s called automations, and what you do is you welcome people to your email list.

Rose:                     Yeah I’ve never heard of doing that before.

Jessica:                 Yes.

Rose:                     And I think I do have a “thank you, welcome to my list” type of thing. But I haven’t looked at it in a hot second, so I need to go back to that.

Jessica:                 Yes, yes. ‘Cause in Mail Chimp they’re usually is the thank you email, or a thank you page, but the sequence is like the 5 separate emails. And they’re usually, I didn’t mention this earlier, usually you space them out by, you could do one a week. Where it just automatically sends like every 7 days or whatever. Or the most I would recommend is every 3 days. So it could be like, if I join on Monday I get the welcome email the very next day. ‘Cause that would make sense if you welcomed them right away. But then I wouldn’t get the second email about why diets don’t work until Thursday.

Rose:                     Okay and that’s, it’s called automation feature in Mail Chimp?

Jessica:                 Yes. I don’t use Mail Chimp, so I only login like once a year for clients. But I believe it’s in a tab at the very top.

Rose:                     Okay.

Jessica:                 I’m pretty sure. I could be wrong.

Rose:                     Yeah I think I’m going to work on that this next week maybe.

Jessica:                 Yes, I think that would make a big difference and hopefully help convert more of those subscribers into clients.

Rose:                     Absolutely, yeah. Okay. That’s really helpful, thank you.

Jessica:                 Well, this was super fun. I hope that was helpful with Instagram and Mail Chimp. Why don’t you tell everyone where we can follow you on Instagram, your website, all that kind of fun stuff?

Rose:                     Yeah. So my website is rosemattsonrd.com and you can find me at Rose Mattson RD on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all the social media places.

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