Social Spotlight Series: @theshedbbq

There are lots of Instagram profiles. Few stand out.


Welcome back to the fourth installment of our Social Spotlight Series! We’ve decided to start highlighting accounts that stand out in our feeds so we can share insights about what makes them successful. Our Social Spotlights focus on Instagram pages that have valuable lessons for marketers, entrepreneurs, influencers, and anyone else who wants to optimize their Instagram.


Today we are featuring @theshedbbq, a BBQ restaurant and sauce maker. When you look at The Shed BBQ’s Instagram profile, the phrase “food porn” comes to mind. This restaurant/sauce maker focuses on authentic content — almost entirely photos of food and people enjoying it. We love the mouthwatering content we see, and it definitely creates a strong brand presence. Without further ado, let’s dive into our analysis of The Shed BBQ’s delicious brand.


​Featured Profile Overview


When we first looked at the Shed BBQ’s page, the first thing we noticed is that all the posts look alike. There are very few graphics. The feed is almost entirely photos, obviously captured with a smartphone and uploaded with little editing. The captions are very short, and many of the photos are similar. That said, there’s something to be said for consistency. And once you start digging in, you see many tantalizing photos of delicious foods. That’s when you understand what gives The Shed BBQ’s Instagram page its oomph.


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What We Think Is Working


There’s a bit of a nostalgic vibe, not only in the content but also in the approach: it focuses on the original purpose of Instagram, which was simply to share snapshots of one’s life. No models, no influencers, no over-filtered photos — in fact, many of the photos are decidedly NOT Instagram-ready. We see a consistent emphasis on food, family, and place, all expressing a small-town, community-oriented vibe — yet they’re pulling big-time engagement.


Clearly, people love BBQ, and this company knows its stuff. They have an opportunity to generate amazing content every single day, and they take advantage of that. We think that glossy, overly staged photos of their food and people would backfire. It would seem insincere and inauthentic. We love seeing The Shed BBQ’s customers so generously highlighted and celebrated in their content. It almost feels voyeuristic, as though we’re sneaking into this hungry, happy community and living vicariously through them.


Well, that’s the joy of Instagram, and we honestly find it refreshing to see a brand that’s less interested in shiny pictures and money grabs. Instead, they’re focused on doing what they do best: making very good food and then teasing us with mouth-watering photos.


What We Dislike


This strong brand falls apart when we click the link in their bio. We land on a page that focuses on “The Sauce Boyz,” a group of young boys who make BBQ sauces. That’s cute, but there’s no obvious connection to The Shed BBQ unless you look at the URL — which, let’s face it, most people won’t.


If you look closely or if you happened to see the few Sauce Boyz posts on the Shed BBQ’s Instagram, you can understand the connection. But that’s an extra hurdle that they’re throwing into the customer journey. This discrepancy could confuse people who are coming from Instagram, whether they’re searching for the restaurant menu or hours or interested in purchasing the sauce. In fact, the most popular posts on Instagram don’t focus on the Sauce Boyz at all. There is a mention of them in the bio, but that’s about it — and they recently swapped that out for a Thanksgiving promo anyway. To us, it seems like a dangerous gamble to try to convert customers on this small part of their brand — one that most of their Instagram followers would have no familiarity with.


The website is also relatively sterile. There’s no emphasis on the “food party” that we consistently see. The photos are very real, one might say gritty and unfiltered, but this authentic approach doesn’t work as well as it does on Instagram. It smacks of unprofessionalism and sends confusing messages. Even as you click around the site, you encounter pages with vastly different designs. The website lacks the consistency of the Instagram profile.


Also, there isn’t any mouthwatering content — it doesn’t get our appetites raging like the Instagram page. It’s all photos of buildings, random faces, and products, rather than food, family, and place — and there’s a big difference. Moreover, there’s no copy or imagery that bridges their Instagram with their website. It simply lacks the soul and nostalgia that makes The Shed BBQ’s Instagram so engaging. 


If they’re trying to sell sauces online, we feel that they need to re-think their funnel and better align their Instagram and website messaging. We see a deep love of their local community, but once we get to the website — ostensibly where non-locals could buy their yummy sauces — it seems like they don’t care anymore. There’s no clear path from Instagram’s immersive, tantalizing experience to any sort of engagement on the website. We feel that they’re limiting their avenue for better online sales.


Analytics / Insights


We see why this page has nearly 65,000 followers — even if you’re not local to the restaurant, you can live vicariously through their posts. They post ten times per week, which leads to some amazing engagement. Each post gets anywhere from 200 to 4,000 likes, which is pretty amazing. As you might expect, the photos best described as “BBQ porn” — which is a hashtag — get the best engagement. Their videos also get insane numbers of likes.


We also see a lot of reposts of followers’ content. Indeed, their bio asks that their fans tag them for a chance to be featured. This is a great way to keep their audience engaged. Overall, we see a passionate community on this brand’s Insta, and we really have no recommendations for improvement. What they’re doing on Instagram is working.


Once we follow their bio link, though, we’re confused. That feeling of nostalgia and community connection, along with our growing appetites, goes away when we land on the website. They’re trying to sell their products, but their amazing content — those closeups of roasted meat soaked in savory sauces — is completely absent from the website. While we don’t know how many sales they make online, we suspect they could make more if they bridged their Instagram and website.


Key Takeaways


The Shed BBQ should double down on what’s working for them. Their most popular Instagram posts focus on food, and their whole Insta brand revolves around the experience of enjoying that food. Their website doesn’t reflect that. It places emphasis on the Sauce Boyz that don’t have a lot of representation on Insta. The site is clumsily designed and relatively sterile and generic compared to the natural, engaging content on Insta.


In short, the brand is cohesive on Insta, but not across platforms. Their Instagram profile focuses on food and community, while their website is centered around the “Sauce Boyz.” We recommend that they change one or the other to match. Ideally, they should capitalize on their amazing Instagram success by adding more food porn to their website. At the very least, they should add in bridge content so that it makes sense and drives more conversions.


Overall, though, we’re really excited to see a brand that ignores the pressure to be sleek and filtered on Instagram. The authentic photos, nostalgic vibe, and celebration of their customers give their brand a wonderful community feel, which is exactly what works. It makes us want to drive to their restaurant and enjoy their amazing food. We just wish their website offered as good an experience.

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Manipulation has made it so we can barely even remember how much time was spent with one person before moving onto another or scrolling through social media posts for hours at a clip without any break from virtual reality whatsoever! The price? Our humanity.

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