Be authentic — In a big, growing digital world where we can so easily feel like “just another fish in the sea” it’s important, no, it’s ESSENTIAL to show up unapologetically as YOU are! Your uniqueness is your superpower on social media. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and let your freak flag fly. When my husband left me while I was pregnant with my daughter, I was so fearful of what my followers would think — “Would they judge me?” “Would I be given a single mom scarlet-letter?” It turns out that sharing a little bit of my personal journey really uplifted other single moms out there and a lot of women follow me just to embrace the hands we were dealt in taking on this pretty awesome role. Whatever makes you, YOU! The truth is people are always going to appreciate that. Plus, they can smell “phoniness” from a mile away when you’re being inauthentic, so you might as well own who you really are.
We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?
In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Ruth.
Influencer Cory Ruth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Women’s Health Expert, and the CEO of The Women’s Dietitian. She built her wildly successful brand through social media by supporting women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Cory started her journey after years of suffering from her own PCOS diagnosis without any relief! Sick of the ‘one size fits all’ recovery options, she decided to flip the script, dedicated her career to this complex condition, and built a massive following on Instagram & Tiktok to help women heal. Now, Cory empowers women to take back control of their reproductive and hormonal health through science-backed research, individualized nutrition and lifestyle changes, as well as her affordable online programs and supplements brand, VITA-PCOS, that treats the root cause of the disorder’s debilitating symptoms.
Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to chat with you! After I got my Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science and officially became a Registered Dietitian, I worked at, what felt like, every “Dietitian job” under the sun such as clinical, food service, and more. But none were fulfilling enough for me. These jobs happened to coincide with a very pivotal time in my life when I was really struggling with my own health after receiving an official Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis.
My experience, like so many other women who are diagnosed with PCOS, included my doctor telling me to take Metformin (an anti-diabetic medication) along with the birth control pill. I hated both of these solutions, because I felt like they were only masking my symptoms instead of treating the underlying issues causing my condition. I continuously thought to myself ”there has to be another way” aside from the typical treatment solutions given to us by our doctors. From there, I decided to dedicate my entire career to helping women like myself heal from PCOS, because as a Dietitian, I knew the connection between our hormonal health and our diets were closely related. I was meant to pave the way to better health for women dealing with this condition.
I opened the doors to my practice at the beginning of 2019 and started getting clients from my Instagram page shortly after. I now have over 116,000 Followers on that platform and have never looked back. Women who work with me understand that there is so much MORE they can do to manage PCOS than to just take a pill! My social media content, packages and programs really put them back in the ”driver’s seat” of their lives, empowers them to advocate for themselves in a medical setting, and provides science-backed education and knowledge so that they can finally experience control over their own health.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?
Connecting with my audience on a human level has been instrumental in my growth as a business owner and influencer. I’ve found that it is important to remind my followers, and those who come across my pages, that I’m a person too. Like my audience, I have struggle(d) with some of the same issues that they’re experiencing as a fellow PCOS warrior and now are trying to tackle. In a seemingly anonymous digital world, I encourage other influencers to be vulnerable and share their personal stories (the good, the bad, and if they’re comfortable with it, the ugly too) to make that deeper connection possible.
We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?
Getting any health diagnosis is scary. Many of us are diagnosed with PCOS in our teens and told that we’ll never be able to get pregnant without some kind of complex fancy medical intervention. That’s an incredibly hard pill to swallow at 16 to 18-years old. My platform gives women with PCOS hope that they can have completely normal, healthy, fulfilling lives and go on to have the families they’ve always dreamed of, without incredibly expensive and emotionally taxing fertility treatments.
Alternatively, so much of what my followers love about my platform is the confidence and inspiration that they gain from my own story with PCOS; as well as my science-backed, no BS, strategies to combating their symptoms.
Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and gamble! Some of my colleagues who have tried to build successful businesses on social media (and failed) are so fixated on playing it safe and coloring inside the lines. By doing this, they never end up thinking outside the box and letting themselves be seen by much larger audiences. Yes, it can feel scary at first, but it’s 110% worth it! The way I think about social media is that it’s a playground for us to have fun. You can mess with something over here and get your hands dirty over there. It’s all just one big giant “experiment” to see what resonates with your audience. Embrace what makes you unique in the sea of millions and play that up! For me, it’s been humor. I hate “dry as toast” healthcare accounts and so I try to inject lots of playfulness and silliness into my platform. I also find that it takes a scary and serious diagnosis like PCOS, and transforms it into something extremely relatable and digestible.
Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?
There have been so many jobs that I absolutely loathed waking up and getting ready for. I don’t think that I have ever felt that way about my work since I opened my private practice. Being a woman is hard enough, so at the end of the day when I lay my head down on my pillow, I rest easy, knowing that I’m making it a little easier for women all over the world. I’m improving the key indicators of health like blood sugar, weight, and cholesterol. I’m making babies possible for families who thought it would be impossible, and empowering women to take their health back into their own hands. All of this makes me truly happy, and to me, happiness is the definition of success in life and in business.
I also think that freedom is important. I love that owning my own practice means nobody is telling me what to do. I can take a day off here and there for a last-minute vacation, mountain hike, or hot stone massage, which are all extra perks 😉
What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?
There really are two “Cory”s — work Cory and family Cory. Sometimes as an entrepreneur (okay…let’s be real, most of the time) those lines easily blur. Everyone and their mom talks about how important it is to maintain boundaries between your work and personal life, and while I somewhat agree, I actually make an effort to include my family into my work life and vice versa. This way, it never feels like I *have* to pick one or the other throughout my week. I’ll bring up a Reel I’m working on and get my partner’s opinion on it over breakfast and then I’ll turn around and ask my Instagram followers what their top pieces of advice are for surviving toddlerhood. To me, letting them coexist takes the pressure off of me to “perform” as either one exclusively and live in this sort of black-and-white dichotomy.
How do you reduce or mitigate stress?
I wish that I could say I bathe in rose scented water by candlelight and practice medicinal Buddhist chants on a nightly basis, but the reality is that I have a 2-year-old and another baby on the way. Most days just washing my hair feels like an absolute triumph. My perspective on self-care has shifted so much in the last couple years that I’ve become better at appreciating the small things in life, like putting together dinner for the family or watering the peach tree outside in the summertime. Those are self-love and stress-reducing acts in and of themselves. Sometimes, I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself of the things in life that I am truly grateful for, like kissing my daughter goodnight. These all become tiny collective events that calm my anxiety each day. If everything were to fail in my business tomorrow, I have my partner, our kids, our dog, and that damn peach tree to water. All is well.
I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.
- Be authentic — In a big, growing digital world where we can so easily feel like “just another fish in the sea” it’s important, no, it’s ESSENTIAL to show up unapologetically as YOU are! Your uniqueness is your superpower on social media. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and let your freak flag fly. When my husband left me while I was pregnant with my daughter, I was so fearful of what my followers would think — “Would they judge me?” “Would I be given a single mom scarlet-letter?” It turns out that sharing a little bit of my personal journey really uplifted other single moms out there and a lot of women follow me just to embrace the hands we were dealt in taking on this pretty awesome role. Whatever makes you, YOU! The truth is people are always going to appreciate that. Plus, they can smell “phoniness” from a mile away when you’re being inauthentic, so you might as well own who you really are.
- Post consistently — It’s totally okay to recycle older content, so that you don’t feel like you’re completely reinventing the wheel every single day. However, post at least five times a week so your audience continues to learn, grow, and receive value from your page. To continue, consistently putting high-quality, valuable content is key as well, especially if you want to stay relevant. I know, I know, you’re busy! If you find yourself totally overwhelmed by the idea of this, take the pressure off by implementing a quick, easy system to generate new content. For example, set aside an hour every other week or so to create a big “brain dump” document where you jot down random content ideas that your followers might really resonate with. That way, when you’re in heavy content creation mode, you have plenty of ideas to pull from.
- Don’t post and ghost — I had a business coaching client who consistently posted great content. She always posted her graphics and Reels at peak times, and had a killer hashtag game. But the problem with her platform is that she would post and then “ghost” her audience…She’d never answer comments in a meaningful way or take the time to answer direct messages. She was giving out great advice, but wasn’t cultivating a community for her followers to feel at home and among their “people.” Engagement very much drives the community aspect, and not interacting with comments/messages does your account a total disservice. Pencil in some time to nourish those online relationships and I promise it will be worth its weight in gold.
- Stick to what is relevant, even if it’s a reach — A common mistake colleagues make is picking an area to specialize in and then desperately trying to cover every topic under the sun that interests them. For example, a Dietitian that I follow on Instagram positions herself as a “body positivity” and “food freedom” specialist, but posts an awful lot about the best practices when feeding a picky toddler (likely because she has one). It’s confusing to me and very likely perplexing to her followers because the two topics conflict. I always suggest that you pick an area you are passionate about and narrow your focus on that one thing. By doing this, you’ll ultimately position yourself as an ‘expert’ in this one arena, which is an excellent place to be! Moreover, always post what is relevant to your speciality, even if that means making a few “reaches” here and there. An example of this would be, I focus on women’s health and PCOS. If I create an Instagram story about my afternoon walk, I would relate it back to how much it calms me and reduces my anxiety, which relates back to many women who struggle with hormone imbalances that have stress triggers. Am I talking about these things directly in this story, no, but I am relating what I am posting to my overall theme, yes! Followers will appreciate you staying in your lane, but venturing out here and there to explore is okay, as long as it is relatable within your speciality.
- Take risks — All successful business owners will tell you this, and businesses in the social media influencer space are no exception. When I first started my private practice and Instagram account, I was hellbent on focusing exclusively on women’s health and only working with women. Friends and family members cautioned me that I was excluding roughly half the population and would lose out on profit, but I never saw it that way. I took a risk and honed in on a specific problem that I knew a large portion of the human population struggled with, ie: hormone imbalances, periods, and fertility. It felt risky at the time, but looking back, I could never have imagined my business any other way. I’ve had some major flunks since I started my influencer and online healthcare practitioner journey, but I always dusted myself off, learned some hard lessons, and kept continuously viewing risks as opportunities to always improve. Now, thanks to some of those big risks, I’m making more money than I ever imagined, doing what I love, and reaching more women than I ever thought possible! AND I am happier in my career than I have ever been, flunks and all. Don’t be afraid to take the leap.
What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?
I always take the time to answer questions and calm fears. Whenever I get into the mindset of “I’m too busy for this,” I remember being that scared little girl who just needed some answers and a little reassurance, and I remind myself that I’ve been there too. This small reminder allows me to draw SO much necessary empathy for my followers and paves the way to better, deeper connection with all of them. I’m never “too busy” to pacify fears, answer essential questions, or simply allow people to vent. After all, that’s why I started this platform in the first place!
As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think many of us can agree that our healthcare system here in the US is severely lacking in some areas. By no fault of our amazing doctors, we just don’t get the time and attention that we need for the majority of our visits due to a variety of factors like ridiculous patient-loads and rushed schedules. Our healthcare system needs a makeover, from our affordability to face-to-face patient time. What would make the biggest impact, in my opinion, is moving into a healthcare system that focuses exclusively on preventative approaches like educational workshops, screening, nutritional interventions, and therapy. I know this is a stretch, but we’d be so much more physically, mentally, and emotionally better off!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂
Private breakfast?! Well pass me a scone…I would LOVE to chat with Dr. Lara Briden over coffee. She’s a pioneer in women’s hormone health and has inspired so many women, and healthcare providers like myself, to tune in and recognize the lack of care out there, as well as the steps we can take to better our overall health.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
Social media is always a great place to follow my work. You can also learn more about my practice, supplement brand, and PCOS programs on my website at https://www.thewomensdietitian.com/.
Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!