With social media being a primary component of most Millennials’ lives, the possibilities for careers in the space is growing substantially, and many are choosing to forge down the path less travelled by turning their social media channels into a full-time job.
One individual who has seen great success by combining his love for cuisine and social media is Ryan Hinkson. Ryan is the curator of massively popular Instagram account @EatFamous, which has amassed over 260,000 followers. The #EatFamous hashtag he created has been used over 2 million times on Instagram.
We sat down with Ryan to gain further insight into the social media industry as well as what he believes to be the driving force behind his success.
Someone I look up to is…
First thing I do when I wake up in the morning is…
Definitely check my phone.
I couldn’t do what I do without…
A HUGE passion for food!
How did your account get started? What drew the momentum and what happened?
I started pre-algorithm, very early. I was lucky that it was a time when, if you saw someone that you wanted to connect with, even if they were much bigger than you, you could do so. The bigger accounts weren’t inundated with millions of DMs yet and I also, instead of just posting my – at the time – terrible pictures, once a week I would highlight someone that I thought was doing incredible work that created genuine bonds, real relationships, and dialogue. I think that’s what helped me grow.
What type of Notable are you? Are you a creator, an entrepreneur, or a professional?
I feel like I am a creator. I work with a lot of brands (big and small). The way that I help to shape what they are doing, I feel, makes me a creator.
Why do you love your job? What sort of cool things do you get to do?
I get to eat, first off and foremost. I have led food tours in Italy, France, Spain. I came back from Barbados this week for their Food and Rum Festival. Travelling and meeting new people, that is definitely the best part of it.
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known as somebody that inspires people to be better than I am.
What does ambition mean to you?
To me, it means seeing the value in your goals. Not just picking a dream or goal because it feels like everybody should have one, but understanding why there might be sleepless nights, why you’re going to be willing to deal with failure and neigh-sayers. That reason why you try to defy crazy every day.
Looking back, are there moments that clearly stand out in your life as defining moments that have led you to this point?
A couple of years ago I went to New York. I was running the marketing for a food festival there. One of the New York Instagrammers that I had conversed with over a couple of years prior said that a couple of people wanted to meet me at a restaurant. I thought it was going to be him and two or three other people, but it was around 25 people that I follow and that I admire there. It shows me that we have built an incredible community that cares about each other and is genuinely interested in what the other does. I think that was huge. When I realized I could go somewhere, that wasn’t home and feel welcome by people with whom I had only had social relationships. I know a lot of times people say that social media is killing real relationships, but I beg to differ. My best experiences and relationships come from that.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
Having my mom and dad be proud of what I’m doing. I know it’s not a traditional path. My dad follows me on Instagram. My Dad has an Instagram account because I’m on Instagram.
When did you start the account?
It’s going on 5 years. We are getting close to ‘grandpa status’.
What are some pivotal mentorship moments for you?
I have a contact in New York. His name is Rev Ciancio. He is a wiz when it comes to marketing, people, connections. He is one of the people who taught me that when the numbers are high, that’s great, but there’s got to be more behind that. I would probably follow that guy to the moon.
What parts of your personality, skills, or approach have helped your career?
I like to have fun. It sounds cliche. Everyone should want to have fun, but I go the extra step to make situations as easy as possible. I feel like, as fun as it is with all the perks, getting to eat and travel, it still feels like work at the end of the day. You’ve got to figure out why you’re doing it, why you enjoy it, and why you started. I feel like if you can put people at ease and make them feel good, they’re generally going to do the same for you.
What is one piece of advice that changed everything for you?
My parents are from Barbados, I’m from the islands and have a lot of West Indian influence on my life. Someone once said to me, ‘hurry dog eats raw meat.’ What that means is, the dog that is quick to grab anything is usually going to have raw meat – not that there is anything wrong with a good tartare! Sometimes you have to fall back and assess situations and make sure things are right. A lot of times with social, we have an eye on what everybody else is doing. So, a lot of times, when my fellow creators were getting contracts or being invited to events, I would ask, “how come I’m not invited?” It would mess with me until I realized that whatever is mine will come. That is a huge piece of advice, I think.