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The Slow Truth to Building an Authentic Brand Online

October 25, 2016

If I got 10 followers for every person who asked me for social media tips, I’d probably have at least a million followers across social. Okay, clearly a gross exaggeration but it’s not out of the ordinary to get one or two requests daily for help with social media.

“How did you get so many followers?”

“How do I grow quickly?”

“What are your top strategies for engagement?”

On the one hand, I want to be helpful, but on the other I know that I’m certainly no expert. Yes, I happen to have a nice social media following, but if we’re playing the comparison game, I have a fraction of what truly encompasses a large social influence. I consider mine small but mighty.


When people reach out for social media tips, the advice I give them is usually the opposite of what I’m actually applying to my own social channels. It probably seems odd that I would give opposing advice, but it has everything to do with goals and what you’re trying to achieve with them. Stay consistent, know your niche, comment, engage with everyone. I do none of these things. I’m certainly not consistent, my niche is anything that falls under the umbrella of health (which I’ve subsequently decided is everything) and while I try my best to engage with my tribe, I just can’t and don’t want to spend my days commenting on channels and pictures I don’t connect with.

For the first couple of years of my blog, I felt the pressure to grow, and to grow quickly. Watching the numbers rise was the most tangible reflection of my success. But as with anything, if your goals are not in line with your values, they won’t give you the kind of internal validation you’re actually seeking. I saw the numbers rise, but the joy I felt did not even remotely compare to a single email I would get from a reader telling me they made one of my recipes and loved it or was inspired by one of my posts.

It took me a long time to realize this, but the relationships I build through social media are far more important to me than any number of likes.

This is not to say that I see anything wrong with aiming to grow your follower base or likes. As with most things in life, I’m of the opinion that #youdoyou. But if I’ve learned anything along my journey it’s that building an authentic brand won’t happen from any type of growth hacking. The process is slow and arduous and requires you to be vulnerable and accept that quality will always outweigh quantity.

slow-growth-authentic-brand-2I’m not perfect, and I certainly have my moments when I fall into the comparison trap i.e. a few weeks ago when I desperately texted Cassie “we need to figure out how to grow my IG FAST!” To which she responded “why do you feel that way?” (you know you have good friends when they challenge you in your most absurd moments), but I’m coming around to the idea that even though I see slow growth, I see true growth. And the connections I’m building are real and long-lasting.

But here’s the part that’s most confusing. There are people who I follow who are equally as authentic, but their growth happens in what feels like the snap of a finger. I can’t explain this truth. All I know is that it won’t happen for the majority of us and you shouldn’t expect it to.

What you can expect is that if you’re real and true to you, people will listen. Maybe not a lot but if you can connect with those who matter, those whose lives you’re trying to influence, you’re doing your job well.

Ask yourself if you’ve gotten too caught up in the numbers. Ask yourself “why?” Why am I doing this? Who am I trying to connect with? And if you feel like your numbers are crawling, let this be a reminder that there is SO much more to life than the double tap of a finger.

Even if you don’t run an online business, I think it’s easy to get caught up in wondering why one picture got more likes than another or why no one commented. That, my friends, is a big ole waste of time. There is no method to the madness, and even if there is, it is based far more on getting your attention and less on building a connection.

I truly believe that our relationship with technology is equally as important as how we nourish or move our bodies. Just as you wouldn’t fill your real life with fake, inauthentic relationships, don’t overwhelm your online world with unrealistic pressure to perform or half-assed likes.

Don’t just like, love. Love what you share. And love who you share it with.


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  • Reply
    June 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I do not have a private practice yet or any type of following yet. However, I hope to have one in the future, the near future. I plan on having a private practice, as a registered dietitian upon graduation in the fall of summer of 2018. With that time approaching soon, I recently started a blog, Facebook, and instagram just two days ago. While it is so much fun and I love sharing my ideas and insight, I also am overwhelmed a bit already. I love your advice. I don’t want to comment, like, or follow just anyone. That specific niche is very important to me. That is what makes you special and passionate about what you are doing. Quality over quantity all the way. Love it!

  • Reply
    Lee | LifeNaturalee
    April 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Just came across your wonderful blog and I guess nothing happens without a reason really! I truly needed to read this and so I thank you for this honest post which resonated with me so much. Much love from Portugal from a new loving follower 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      April 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

      So happy to hear that, Lee! xoxo

  • Reply
    October 27, 2016 at 7:38 am

    I for one appreciate you posting the non-food/ real life photos, despite the fact those never seem to do as well as the food. At least not for me anyway, and I could give a donkey’s booty about the number of likes. If you follow me, you get all of me, not just some staged food photo opp. The same is true when I follow someone on IG ,it’s because I want to see them along with their recipes. I like getting to know the person behind the IG account, funky acne and all. Plus we’ll always have #spudlove.

  • Reply
    josh houle
    October 27, 2016 at 7:36 am

    K I’m going to call you Mav’s. Man, I flipping adore your posts so of course it drew me here. I love your philosophy. So I had to post on something that didn’t have food or ball bites for me to comment about. You’re awesome, if you ever need any advice for web/media. Come meow at me, I’d love to offer my hand in assistance. One love.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      November 5, 2016 at 12:21 am

      WOW. Thank you so much, Josh! Your support is so amazing and I’m lucky to have readers like you!

  • Reply
    rachel @ athletic avocado
    October 26, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you so so so much for sharing this! This really applies to me right now as I’m really struggling with blogging and comparing myself to others. I feel like I’m not growing fast enough compared to others and it’s making me feel like I need to work 24/7 in order to catch up. Thank you for this beautiful reminder Davida <3

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      November 5, 2016 at 12:22 am

      Hang in there, lovely! Know that no matter where you are on the spectrum you will always feel like someone is doing it better. You’re better off focusing on you and your journey rather than comparing it to anyone else’s. It will be far more rewarding that way!

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