YANNI GEORGOULAKIS Influencer Spotlight
Yanni Georgoulakis is the creator of Foody Fetish, a popular Instagram account that currently has over 3.3 million followers. Yanni’s mother is Cuban and his father was born in Greece, making Yanni’s heritage diverse and inspiring him to try all sorts of food. Foody Fetish has partnered with McDonalds, Burger King, Papa Johns and Major League Baseball, to name a few. You can learn more at foodyfetish.com or follow Foody Fetish on Instagram.
Can you give us the brief background of Foody Fetish, including the sequences of events that led you to become a popular influencer?
Definitely! So basically I always had a photography background so I always loved playing with cameras, video cameras everything like that. Anyways since I’m half Greek half Cuban I always loved food. Growing up I experienced different culinary [dishes] so I became well versed in different foods around the world and in Miami you got an International scene so, you know, it was very prevalent there. After high school I got a couple [of] financial jobs and then I landed into pharmaceuticals after about six or seven years. And then when I left pharmaceuticals I mean which I still am actually I had a lot of time in between doctors visits.
So you’re waiting a lot for the doctors and then, you know, if you have a lunch you’re waiting for them to finish up with patients if they’re seeing a patient, if you want to see them in between patients, you know, you have forty-five minutes of just waiting. So a lot of reps just play on their phone, go on blogs, go on Instagram, and this was about almost four years ago so I was like, you know what, I’m always on my phone, I’m on Instagram, I have plenty of time so let me make use of my time and try and think of something that I can do that can be productive. And, you know, some kind of hot side hustle that could end up being be, you know, lucrative.
So I followed a lot of entrepreneurs on Instagram and I was reading that, you know, social media was taking off, it was going to be the next big thing, [and] it wasn’t going anywhere so the time was now if you wanted to get into it and create a presence. So since with food, you know, it was – and also [a friend] recommended starting something obviously niche based because if you wanted to be successful people had to go to you because they knew you were an expert in something. So, you know, if you had cars and travel and drinks and, you know, houseware it would be all the over the place so tended to focus on one area and just, you know, stay on top of it.
And you got to choose something that you liked because you’re always going to be hearing about it so that’s when I was like okay let me do it with food, you know, I have a lot of experience with food, why not. So I thought of the name, you know, I bounced around with names back then almost four years ago it was easier to find usernames now I wanted one that didn’t have any, you know, underscores or special letters just to keep it as easy as possible [so] people could find you. And then started playing around and I found Foody Fetish, you know. the title was there, available so I went with that.
I’d start posting everyday posting once a day at the beginning, I was experimenting. I went to Greece and France that summer so I planned a lot of bakeries and pastries and just started doing that once a day. After about six months I reached ten thousand followers I remember that was like one of the first pretty cool milestone and I was like okay, you know what, I mean it’s been six months, I’ve done ten thousand, I still have a job, I’m still doing well, I mean I’ve got nothing to lose why not keep going, and see what happens so from then on I kept expanding it. A little after that Instagram introduced their video feature because back then it was just photos so when they introduced the video feature I started tinkering with video.
I had mainly always done photography but, you know, you use the same technical skills with lighting and angles so I started messing around with some food photography, I mean videography. So, you know, that when I – and for me now definitely food for videos is the way to go rather than pictures. I mean I think a lot of food is just pleasing to the eye, you know, opening some cheesy pizza or, you know, chocolate oozing out all that stuff work a lot better with video.
So video started taking off and I noticed that, you know, the content was getting more viral videos so then I went with what was hot at the time and I started adapting more toward videos. And ever since then everything kept building and building and building consistency was the key. but videos definitely, you know, that changed for me. I mean I learned a lot too. I mean at first I look at old videos now and I’m like “wow” I didn’t really know that the technical aspects were great but a certain angle or, you know, the way you have to prep something before so that it oozes out the perfect way is like all this science that goes into it.
Of all the Foody Merch you sell on your site, is there an item that is most popular?
So, you know, I started that recently but I love the send noods just because I mean it has the Foody Fetish logo inside of it, you know, it’s a cool saying so that’s my personal favorite for sure. I’m curious to see which one is going to be the best seller but yeah, you know, you have from the very originial to the racy and that’s how I am. I mean I’m very outgoing, funny, I love jokes, I love memes so that’s why you have to have a little bit of everything there for everyone.
Within three years, Foody Fetish has grown to over 3.3 million followers, which is quite amazing. You could probably write a book on all of the things you’ve done to nurture your brand, but what are a few of the positive growth strategies you can point to when reflecting on your rapid growth?
Yeah, no definitely. I still can’t believe it sometimes, it’s unbelievable but I would say, you know, just plain and simple working my butt off. That’s the number one thing. I mean for almost four years now it’s been nonstop, I’ve never taken a day off. Never taken one day off from at least posting one time in the last, you know, four years basically. I have not taken a day off that’s number one, consistency.
Number two I would say is interacting with followers. So, you know, a lot of them, you know, obviously they comment, they send DMs, a lot of people send me their food sometimes asking for feedback, or you know just have a simple question of “I’m in Miami this weekend I’m looking for a steak house, can you let me know” I respond to, I’m not going to say all of them because I’m not perfect and I get so many DMs, but I respond to a very very good amount and if I see it I’m going to respond to it and that’s also led to the success. A lot of people sometimes I respond and they’re like “oh my god you actually responded to me” or like they’ll comment on a video or something and I’ll reply to the comment and they’ll just be like “oh my god I said this, you know, just thinking no one was going to reply” and they’re absolutely shocked.
So that aspect definitely helps because I understand. I mean if I’m following someone that, you know, has a lot of followers and I love their page and they respond to me I’m going to feel very, you know, close and I’m going to respect them even more now. because I know they’re busy so the fact that they went out of their way to respond to you I mean that builds a chemistry that, you know, they’ll be a lifelong follower and a supporter for sure. So I think those two go hand-in-hand with the work ethic and going above and beyond when other people just post and, you know, just leave it there or just post and go on with their day. Like I still engage and that’s very very key.
What has been your favorite brand partnership to-date?
I would say, let me see. One that I like and I’m currently working with also is My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and they’re, you know, the mochi which is the ice cream inside [with] like the jelly outside so it’s amazing, amazing company, they do outside the box events. So I went to New York about three months ago they took over a museum in New York and it’s called the Color Factory and it’s basically, you know, a visual, very interactive museum and they put their products into different rooms. There’s maybe like five to fifteen different rooms and they had their product strategically placed so, you know, you can interact with them.
They have a ball pit with like five hundred thousand balls and, you know, they hid some of their boxes inside of it and if you found it you won a year supply. So they just do very outside-the-box and fun things and then they hired me to take over their Instagram account for the evening and then also do it on my Instagram stories and just attend the event and just show everyone how cool it looked. So I love the product and I love what they’re doing to make it very fun and interactive and they told me that “you know what, just go have fun and document that”. Having fun and doing that partnerships that the best way to do it because that’s when, you know, people really see that the product is fun and I mean I’m enjoying myself, you know, they can that and it’s very natural as well.
I ask this question every time I talk to someone who predominately works with delicious, decadent food… Are there days when you just crave a large salad or kale smoothie?
So I actually eat usually very healthy during the week. I try to do it, as hard as it is, I try to do it during the week and then I try to reward myself on the weekends. Obviously there’s a lot of events that I go to during the week as well with gluttonous, crazy food so I’ve learned how to, you know, have a bite or two bites if it’s really good, three bites if it’s exceptional and then just move on the next thing.
I have to try it and that’s – I mean I love food so I mean what good is it if it’s like right there and I don’t try it so I at least have to take a bit, you know, to know if it’s really good. So in between though I eat very healthy because there has to be a balance and I work out every day. I mean that’s the only way, you know, to stay within my goals which are, you know, to stay healthy and active. So that’s the only way. I love food though, it’s very tempting. At first when I first started going to all these events it was hard I probably gained probably like ten pounds and then I was like okay this ten can go to twenty, twenty can go to thirty so I really have to, you know, reduce the portions for sure and then be selective with what I eat and drink because those amazing drinks at the events that are unlimited can really add up too. So it’s all about give and take for sure.
What are some of your goals for the remainder of the year as it pertains to Foody Fetish?
So definitely I want to do an event or two kind of like a food, you know, a food centered event in a nice place in Miami, you know, on a rooftop or just an amazing venue. I also want to reach I would say four million would be my goal by the end of the year. I mean very hard goal especially with the algorithm but I’ll definitely try. Also I want to just, you know, expand my partnerships. So I do travel as well. I don’t do it as much since I have, you know, a full time job I can’t go as often as I would like but I do partnerships with hotels and destinations so definitely would like to visit some cool, new place for me. You know, either in Asia or Europe just very unique, luxury properties is why I love doing it, you know, my followers love it too because they get the whole experience of the food and then they get the ambiance and the, you know, the events and the views and all that that goes with it as well.
Note: Influencer Spotlights are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the voice behind many of the Intellifluence tutorial videos (for better or worse).