Dietician Catherine Perez’s viral recipe reels grow her brand’s community on Instagram

clock imageOctober 5, 2022

At first, vegan dietician Catherine Perez (@plantbasedrd) posted recipes to Instagram to show her clients visual examples of how to prepare tasty plant-based meals. “My account slowly started gaining traction outside of just the clients I was seeing and people kept asking to see more recipe inspiration,” Perez shares.

Now she inspires 527,000 fans on Instagram with viral recipe reels that generate millions of views.

Watch Perez’s 5 steps to create engaging recipe reels for your business:

With her easy-to-follow demonstrations for making cinnamon buns, burrito bowls and more, Perez has turned a passion for teaching people about plant-based nutrition into a loyal community on Instagram.

Read on to learn how Catherine developed her winning Reels strategy.

How do Reels fit into your holistic social media strategy for @plantbasedrd?

Reels are my tool for education, so it’s a big part of my strategy. They make it easier to expand on my nutrition messaging. My video shows the recipe-making process to grab my audience’s attention, and the voiceover explains the “why” behind a recipe. “How will this recipe help someone?” “What about this recipe is nourishing?” I also share extra details in my captions to further express these points.

What’s been the most exciting recipe to make a reel for and why?

I am very proud of a recent reel I did about tofu marinades. The concept was designed to help people get out of flavoring ruts. Coming up with all the flavors was so fun, and I remember doing the pour shot of each marinade over the tofu and feeling a lot of pride that I didn’t spill any of it on the table. This recipe helped me also shed light on the benefits and versatility of tofu.

How did @plantbasedrd’s social media creation process evolve over time?

I started taking Instagram more seriously around 2017. My strategy then was taking photos on my phone with not-so-great lighting and posting what I was eating for breakfast and dinner everyday. As time went on, I started focusing on recipe creation. This also got me into learning better photo techniques, like how to style a plate of food to make it look appealing. Over time, videos started popping up on my feed, so my creation process changed again. While I had never recorded a recipe video in my life, I took on the challenge. For inspiration, I watched other creators' videos and applied the photo principles I learned to video creation.

What kind of work goes into making a reel before you ever start filming?

It starts with writing down a recipe draft and then testing it multiple times. It can take anywhere from 1 to 6 attempts. (I’m a perfectionist, so I can’t help myself there.) Then I’ll plan the shoot day and shop for anything I need for the recipe. I’ll visualize how I want the video to look in my mind, especially the end shot because that is often my hook for the video. I’ll note and draw pictures of how I want to plate my food on camera. I also take stock of the cooking equipment I will use in the video to make sure everything is in order before filming.

How has your audience responded to your reels?

Better than I could imagine. The fact that they engage with my content is always a good sign that I’m on the right path. They are my inspiration, so I do my best to communicate and engage with my audience, because I want them to be part of the process. I value this relationship, and they have helped me grow as a person tremendously.

What’s your advice for accounts just getting started making their first reels?

Be willing to learn and make mistakes. If you feel you aren’t good at video, just shoot and post the video. Your style will continue to evolve. Once you learn the process, it becomes more gratifying. And above all else, focus on creating a community. It’s easy to think of followers as numbers, but they are people. Be that problem solver, focus on adding value to their lives and they will stick with you.

Ready to level up your content? Here’s everything you need to know to create great reels.