Phillip Fryman of Southern Fatty

Marketing Through Social Media Influencers

Phillip Fryman is the blogger and commercial food photographer best known as Southern Fatty. He tells Lipstick Economy about turning his creative outlet into a successful career and shares valuable insight into the world of brand partnerships and social media marketing.

What should we know about Phillip?

Not only is Phillip a food blogger, commercial food photographer and all-around Southern food guru, he also works as a research biologist. As a Kentucky native who grew up cooking, baking and eating delicious Southern food, he started Southern Fatty while working as a cancer research biologist at Vanderbilt. Though he initially planned to use the blog as a hobby that would give him something fun to do outside of the lab, Southern Fatty took off, growing to reach an audience of more than 44,000 Instagram followers. Phillip also launched a food photography business where he captures content for restaurants and other culinary brands.

How did Phillip grow Southern Fatty to reach such a large audience?

When Phillip started Southern Fatty, he mostly posted on the blog’s website and occasionally on Facebook. But as Instagram started to become popular, he realized it was a great outlet to share content more frequently and directly engage with his audience. Phillip focused heavily on connecting with his followers, and to this day he still tries to respond to every Instagram comment when he can. His pairing of authentic content with high-quality visuals attracts an audience of food lovers who appreciate his modern twists on classic Southern comfort food.

What does it mean to be an influencer today?

Though some people avoid the term influencer out of fear that it devalues the work they do, Phillip believes a great influencer is simply someone who stays genuine and makes recommendations that people want to follow. He points out that it really isn’t about the numbers — an audience that’s small but highly engaged can be more effective than a large, disinterested following. For Phillip, that means focusing less on logistics like posting at specific times and more on creating the valuable content he and his followers enjoy.

How have women carved out a unique space in food blogging?

Food blogging is a unique space that’s mostly dominated by women, and Phillip says he’s glad to be in the minority of male food bloggers and photographers. Women make up more than 75 percent of Phillip’s audience on Instagram and on his site, and he’s also built a strong network of relationships with women food bloggers in Nashville’s blogging community.

What factors help set great content apart from everything else on social media?

While Phillip thinks it’s important to post content you care about, he also encourages other creators to know what their audiences respond to. It’s OK to post certain content you enjoy that may not perform as well as other types of posts, but he says it’s important to manage your expectations and work on finding an audience that shares your interests.

When it comes to brand partnerships, Phillip takes a similar approach. He only promotes brands and products he actually enjoys, even though it can be hard to say no to money-making opportunities that may not be the best fit for his brand. This selectiveness has paid off in the long run, allowing him to develop long-term relationships with brands he believes in.

How is COVID-19 driving new food trends?

As people spend more time at home and can’t eat out as frequently, Phillip has noticed more people baking, especially sourdough. On a deeper level, he believes some people are falling in love with cooking and baking for the first time, and he hopes that interest will stick around even after COVID ends. For Phillip, love of food is deeply rooted in memories of growing up eating his mother and grandmother’s Southern cooking, and he’s excited to see others having those experiences in these difficult times.

Resources and Links

Phillip’s LinkedIn
Southern Fatty
Southern Fatty on Instagram