Behind the Scenes

How the duo behind @twotastebuddiez uses social media to connect with their followers and offer them a seat at the dinner table

Big cities like Boston and New York City present exciting opportunities and new challenges for students and young professionals who are eager for a change of scene. With the expansion of networking and convenience in these places, there also comes the challenge of tracking down the most affordable places to eat and have fun. This inspired a best friend duo to create @twotastebuddiez.

Using social media platforms like Instagram and, more recently, TikTok, Rachel Eng and Maddie Gatto of @twotastebuddiez take their followers on a food adventure — opening the door to many restaurants and bars around the city and using different angles that make it look like the viewer is sitting in the restaurant with them. Gatto and Eng are expanding their content to other cities, specifically New York City, where the two are living currently.

Storybench spoke with the duo to get a glimpse into the world of content creation and how students and young professionals too can share what they love on social media with others.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Rachel Eng (left) and Maddie Gatto (right). Credit: @twotastebuddiez, Instagram

What inspired you to create your account @twotastebuddiez?

Rachel: Basically, the way our account started is that Maddie and I both went to the same high school in New Jersey, and we both realized we were going to be attending schools in Boston. I went to Northeastern and Maddie went to Boston College, and so a lot of the times when we would want to hang out, we would DM each other places of restaurants on Instagram that we saw. That’s how we kind of kept up our friendship.

A lot of those photos ended up being from food Instagrams. I think one day, I [said] to Maddie, “I think we could take a photo this good or if not better,” and so I said, “We should totally just start a food Instagram.” It started off being a small thing to just share with our friends, but it ended up taking off unexpectedly. We realized a lot of people that were in college looking for affordable but fun new places to go out to eat were interested in following along.

Maddie: Just to add to that, it really did just start for fun, and then as we created more content and got to know more people in the restaurant industry, that’s when it became more of content creation and giving recommendations to people. It really just grew from there.

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I see that many of your videos take your audience on a food adventure, where the audience feels like they’re sitting at the table with you. Has this always been your main form of storytelling? How has your content style changed or evolved since you’ve created the account?

M: I think we definitely started out with just photos. Then, I think once TikTok became big, that’s when we thought, “Okay, how can we use this new platform that uses mainly video to still engage with our audience?” That was a big transition for us, where we started doing those “come along with me” type videos. That’s definitely something that we feel like we started because I think a lot of people do that now.

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That was our way of transitioning from like, okay, we have these experiences, and we go to the restaurants and take the photos, but we want to be able to take people with us and show them what it would be like if they were to go there as well. So I think that’s helpful for at least when I’m choosing a restaurant, I’m like, “Okay, but what are the vibes?” I want to know everything about it, [not] just including the food, but everything else, so I think that’s kind of how we expanded to that style of content.

What are some of the ways you’ve boosted your audience engagement since the beginning of your account?

R: One thing we really like to use is the stories. And I think very early on, we started using the poll feature [on Instagram] when it first came out. One of our trademark shots was “this one or that one” and having people vote. That was really helpful to see what types of foods our followers are most interested in. And sometimes, if one gets way outvoted, we’ll use that as a post for the photo.

I think also doing giveaways and partnering with restaurants is something that we also did a lot. It’s really mutually beneficial for both the restaurants and for our account because some of the rules are to follow us and follow the restaurants and then also [give] our followers a chance to win gift cards and go experience the restaurant.

The poll feature is an effective way to boost follower engagement. Credit: @TwoTasteBuddiez, Instagram
Viewers can pick “this one or that one.” Credit: @TwoTasteBuddiez, Instagram

What are some of the challenges that you’ve encountered while managing the accounts? In what ways have you navigated around those challenges?

M: One of the biggest challenges is that we started the account when we were both in school. Then, there were a couple of years where we were both working, but now I’m back in school. So, because the account is something that we just do on the side, I think balancing content creation with having a job or being in school … is a big one. We were just talking earlier, Rachel’s like, “I think I spend 30 hours a week on @twotastebuddiez’s stuff,” so I think just managing that with everything else we have going on [was a challenge].

@Twotastebuddiez isn’t your full-time job. You were college students when you started the account and now you’re both onto bigger things, so what does the balance of life look like now?

R: I think one thing that’s really helped us is that [from] early on, we have very predefined roles for each post on the account. For example, we’ll both shoot the photos and take the videos if we’re together, but if we’re separate, one person will do it. By the time we’ve uploaded all the photos and content, Maddie will pick all the photos that we want to post, and I’ll edit them. I’ll do all of the stories, and Maddie will do the posting. Of course, if one person has a lot more things to do one week, we help each other out. I think just having separate ownership of different parts of the account is a really good way for us to manage that.

You’ve been expanding to other cities, like New York City. Has it been easy finding content there and what’s the process been like for expanding your content to cities beyond Boston where the account originally started?

R: For a long time, we were kind of constrained to Boston, but I think being able to expand to new cities is giving us an opportunity to get in front of new audiences and also try so many different places, but I think it’s also a natural progression of things.

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As we get older, we always think of how our followers also age with us. A lot of our followers started when they were a freshman in college with us, and then as they grew into the more young professional age group … it’s really helped because they’ve all moved to different cities or different places. It’s really fun whenever we’re traveling. I love to ask for recommendations of where to go in a new city, and then [we’re] always getting to pick places to go based on what our followers suggest.

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What advice would you give a college student or a young adult who’s thinking about going into content creation, but they don’t really know where to start?

R: I really think it comes down to you identifying what you’re genuinely interested in or what you’re passionate about and then deciding to be a content creator or wanting to share those experiences with other people. I think we’re seeing a lot of people really want authentic versions of the content creators they follow, and they want to feel like you’re a real person and that you could be friends with me.

I think being authentic and making sure you’re not just doing things for the sake of getting famous or making content is another really good way. Because at the end of the day, even if you get 5 views or 5,000 views, you want to be happy with the content you put out, and you want it to represent yourself.

Because at the end of the day, even if you get 5 views or 5000 views, you want to be happy with the content you put out, and you want it to represent yourself.

Rachel eng, @twotastebuddiez’s co-founder

M: That’s always a tough one. I feel like since TikTok, it seems like everyone wants to be an influencer. Everyone wants to do some sort of content creation whether it’s on TikTok, Instagram, or whatever it is. If you’re interested, just do it, start, and see where it goes because you never know. People are blowing up and getting huge overnight now. And sometimes, they don’t even know why or how it happened. So, I think if you’re interested, and you have a specific niche that you want to make content about, just lean into that, and you’ll find people who are also interested in that thing.

Gigi Barnett

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