Welcome to the 23rd episode of the #AskAPrivateLender​​ Podcast brought to you by Mortgage Automator. This is another episode full of great marketing tips that can contribute to the growth of your private lending business.

This time, we take a deep dive into Instagram marketing and how to do it right. Our guest is Amanda Kohal, an award-winning digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur, and the founder of THE WOLFE CO. Amanda shared great tips with us about how to maximize your business’ Instagram presence and how to truly benefit from it. There is so much more to Instagram than just sharing pictures, and we cover it all in this episode.

Listen, watch, or read the interview below. And stay tuned for more episodes coming up!

Lawrence: Today we have a great guest for you today and this guest is for all of the people who’ve emailed me and called me saying, “How do I get in front of more people? How do I get more deals? I want to make more money.” Amanda Kohal is with us today from WOLFE CO. It’s an online platform where people go to learn all about marketing and how to get more exposure in many ways. Amanda, do you want to give us an insight as to what you do and how it works? 

Amanda: My company really supports entrepreneurs and helps small businesses use digital marketing and social media, primarily Instagram to build their business. We focus on content that actually converts either into a community of raving fans that is giving you referrals or into actual clients and customers. It’s very much supported by metrics and understanding how to read any of the metrics that you’re getting on Instagram. And we’re moving away from the surface-level types of things that you once saw on Instagram, like a number of followers and having a crazy beautiful aesthetic. We’re focused on reading those metrics and understanding people’s behaviors on the platforms and how they’ll convert no matter what industry that you’re in. 

My community is the Wolfies, and it really stemmed from a membership that I created, which we can totally get into at one point in this conversation, and the name just kind of stuck. We joke that we are a borderline cult, but full-fledged pack. I want to say that again. We are not a cult, but we are borderline.

Lawrence: When you started your Instagram, was it more for fun? Or was it something right away you knew like, “I need to start focusing on Instagram or other social media platforms to bring in that traffic?”

Amanda: I’ve been a pretty early adopter on social media even back in my first marketing role. I’ve been in marketing for 12-ish years. I got my feet wet with Facebook and Twitter when those first came out and just tried to navigate those platforms. And then it wasn’t until I started working in the educational space that I was doing social media advertising and Instagram had just kind of released their advertising platform. So I was getting into the nitty-gritty there as well as Facebook advertising, and I knew this is a really powerful platform. We already saw what Facebook had done to the industry and for marketing. And I knew Instagram was going to be next. The number of people that were able to grow super quickly and very organically was really impressive for a photo-sharing app at the time.

It wasn’t really until they started to introduce video and Instagram stories that I think a lot of real conversions started to happen because when Instagram started, it was very much, “Okay, you come to my profile, I am the influencer and you come and you like all of my content,” but now it’s really shifted to, “You come to my profile and I’m putting out content that is specifically for you.” So it’s way less about the influencer and more about the community. So I started my business on Instagram, but it was in the fitness space. So it’s not the WOLFE CO. that you see today where I’m teaching people how to use Instagram and other social media platforms, and just have confidence on video, and build communities, but I was doing fitness over on Instagram because that was a huge thing back in my day when it first started.

And then I built this online marketplace kind of like a supermini Amazon, specifically for fitness providers, if they had courses or products that they were selling, and I kind of just woke up one day and I was like, “What am I doing? This doesn’t even align with what I’m good at.” And I just kind of just shifted it. And so I had to ask myself, “What do I want to do in this space? How can I have an impact because I know I want to build a business here.” And then it shifted into me taking everything I’d learned in my years of marketing to decide I want to teach people how to do what I’ve done for their small business or as an entrepreneur.

Lawrence: When you’re coming up with a marketing strategy, what are some things to keep in mind? 

Amanda: Social media is the best place to start, I think. You don’t even have to invest any money into it. You can essentially just get started that day, but it’s about putting out the content and giving it enough time to marinate, and allowing a platform such as Instagram to start to calculate some of the insights and metrics on the backend. So I say, go out there, “Okay, I’m in real estate. I want to be posting and promoting my business, posting the different houses, different information that I’ve gathered, tips and tricks for new homeowners, whatever it might be. That’s the type of content that I want to post.” I’m not really sure the format of the content, whether it’s using video. Instagram has reels now, which is their version of TikTok, really short videos. They’re really punchy for our low attention spans in this day and age. 

Some people just want to post straight-up photos or they’re just not sure. So put the content out there and try the different features that any social media platform has to offer. Once you’ve done that for about 30 or 60 days, in the backend, they’re gathering insights for you so you can take a look at top-performing posts, the ones that got the most engagement. And on every single social media platform, they label what each is, there’s information of what it means when we say impressions, reach, all of that kind of stuff. And from there you can quickly see what’s working, what’s not. Now, you can really start to develop that strategy. It’s not really until you get out there and put the content out there on social that you know how the audience is going to react and how you’re going to move forward in your strategy.

Mikayla: It’s always good to be testing different things on social media. Your social media is a big part of the overall marketing strategy and goes with all the other things that you do to market yourself. So in your opinion, in terms of the strategy and piecing social media into that, how much importance does SEO and email marketing, and those kinds of things have, and what else should be a part of that strategy, and how do you make it all flow together?

Amanda: It’s everything. The searchability and how easy you can make it for people to consume your content. I think when we take a look at digital, we over-complicate things, but even on a platform such as Instagram, we’ll start there, that’s your primary platform, and then I’ll talk about how you can integrate some of the other channels. There’s SEO happening on the backend of Instagram. So in your bio, there are a couple of areas like your handle and the headline section of your bio that are searchable for the user, but on the backend, everything that you write, any video that you put up there, all the hashtags, location tags, Instagram is calculating this and piecing it together so that they can better put you into categories to help your content get found. So by using keywords in your Instagram bio as well as using keywords and language that you use in your business overall is really going to help your chances of being searched.

With Instagram, they don’t want people off the platform. They want to keep people on there, and we could kind of see how they’re moving towards this all in one space by now really focusing on e-commerce, you can do any type of functionality over there. I’m kind of waiting for when their editing capabilities come into play as well, but the easier you can make it for them to categorize you, the faster your content and your brand awareness is really going to grow. Now, there’s other platforms out there like Pinterest, which is not even necessarily categorized as social media. It’s a visual search engine or TikTok that has this totally new algorithm that I think all the other platforms are trying to mirror now, and it’s great for visibility. YouTube and even email marketing can really help drive traffic.

And when I say drive traffic, I mean drive audiences and new users to your Instagram page. So while Instagram is in this bubble, there’s still a ton of other platforms that can kind of penetrate that bubble and get over into Instagram. So you want to think about, “Okay, I’ve got Instagram as my primary platform. That’s set up. I’m going to create my original pieces of content for Instagram. How can I now repurpose this content on a traffic driver?” So I always recommend you to have that primary platform like an Instagram or LinkedIn and then choose a traffic driver like Pinterest, email, or even TikTok, Clubhouse we’ve seen come up, which is audio, to now bring over and as well, you can take people from Instagram now over there.

Mikayla: When it comes to marketing, there’s a lot of planning involved when sharing content on different platforms and stuff, but how do you keep that all organized? Is there a certain app or a calendar or a structure that you use to help you?

Amanda: I am considered a little bit old school. I don’t use a lot of the apps that are out there for scheduling content.

I write a lot of stuff in my notebook, but I use Google Sheets and I’ve used a lot of the applications that the Google suite has to really organize everything. But in terms of content scheduling and planning, you’ve got great software like Hootsuite, Later, Planoly. It really just depends on how you want to navigate your business and what’s easy for you that you can actually stick to. And I think that this is probably where people get tripped up on social media as well, because we see this rise of this social media guru, and they’re almost positioning it as a one size fits all formula and approach. So anybody that’s new to the platform is like, “Oh, my gosh, if I’m not posting five times a week, using reels two times a day, have every single social media listed, I’m not going to be successful,” but that might not work for you.

So instead of asking questions like, “How often should I be posting?” It’s, “How much capacity do I actually have to post?” And if that’s once a week that you can commit to sending out an email to your community or posting to Instagram, do that and stick to it because it actually gets so much easier over time and then start to layer on some of these new features and really start to have this Omni-channel approach. And when I say omnichannel, I mean you’re using multiple platforms. So like in Instagram, you’ve got your TikTok account, you’ve got your YouTube, you’ve got your email, and you’re posting on these platforms regularly. It’s not necessary, it’s just there and it’s set up. You’re very active in it to just really enhance your brand awareness.

Lawrence: I went down a rabbit hole, basically on what you’re talking about on your Instagram, where the name GaryVee popped out to me and I’m like, “Okay, what is this 180 thing about?”. He has this thing where you have to comment on the top 10 trending posts, start a conversation or give your opinion, but you’re saying that you don’t really have to do that anymore. That’s not a thing?

Amanda: No. And don’t get me wrong. I love GaryVee but I also love poking holes in his Dollar 80 strategy. It was something you needed to engage with. So you need to comment on about 100 people’s posts a day. And these weren’t necessarily comments where you’re trying to start a conversation. This could even be two words, one word, but just kind of getting that brand exposure. While this did work at one time, and it was a fantastic strategy, it’s so dated now because platforms like Instagram are built on communities and having conversations. And I say that because Instagram has put a lot of effort into their messaging platform, which is the DMs. And Instagram is owned by Facebook. Facebook has put a lot of effort into WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook as well as their Messenger platform. And what happens in Messenger platforms? Chats with your community, with your friends, with your family.

So that type of behavior should really be mirrored over on Instagram, that if you’re just popping by and saying, “Nice post,” how is that making you stand out or really adding value to the conversation? So something that I’ll teach my Wolfies and my community is binge engagement. I only talked to 5-7 people a day if I’m going out to engage with them, but I’m going down a rabbit hole of their content on their page, and I’m literally going back maybe even to posts from 2018 and leaving these comments, because I’m genuinely interested in the content as opposed to just a task on the list of like, “Well, you already told me I needed to engage with this many people a day. Did my engagement for the day,” but you’re not even present or doing it because it’s something that resonates with you. You’re just doing it to do it.

Lawrence: Every time I see a comment like that, I’m just like, “What is this?” I know they didn’t even read the post. I completely get where you’re coming from. And things are changing so rapidly. New platforms come up, they change their algorithms. New things work, old things don’t work. What are some new effective things that you’ve noticed on Instagram to get that traffic lately? Is there anything else that’s new or interesting that you could share? 

Amanda: So from day one on Instagram as we spoke until about day 60, you’re putting out content and you’re seeing what sticks, the insights are really going to give you that feedback. Once you have that, you’re starting to double down on the content that works. But the areas where you’re going to find the conversion are in places like Instagram stories or over in the DMs, because how the content funnel kind of works is the feed is very public, right? Anybody can kind of come across your feed and you’re just scrolling through so any content that you’re putting there should be more so of a higher level so that you can use features like stories to go deeper, because in the stories that’s connected to the DMs. So you can immediately have that one-on-one conversation as well, you can start to share more of that, like a behind-the-scenes type of content.

If you’re just getting started, have at least 9-12 posts on your page that people can land on. Again, we don’t know when they’re going to find your profile, if your Instagram profile is even the first one that they see, but have content that they can land on, that they can consume and that they can start to engage with. Over in your stories, you’re essentially extending that conversation or adding an extra nugget of information from the post into your stories because you’re delivering the content in a very different platform. If you can get those 9-12 posts up, you can essentially stretch the content for months and months and months, because Instagram has so many different media formats for you to communicate the same message.

I’ll give you an example. I’m an avid story watcher. Again, I don’t know where you’re going to see my content first, so I want to make sure that that message is cohesive with whatever features I’m using over on Instagram. And if the more and more you can kind of repurpose, the easier you’re making it for people to fall in love with your personal brand, consume your content and essentially navigate your page to become a client or a customer. But if you’re of the mindset of, “Okay, I posted this one thing to my feed. I can never, never talk about it again.” Your content becomes very patchy and it’s really hard for people to kind of sink their teeth into it, and for you to start positioning yourself as a thought leader in that space. The more you repeat and the more you repurpose, the better. And I know it’s scary because you really do think, “I’m repeating myself,” and it sounds mean, but no one’s paying as much attention as we think they are.

Lawrence: On DMs, do you comment on their post first publicly, and then you kind of continue the conversation as a direct message or do you just immediately write them privately and start having conversations?

Amanda: No. Think of it like dating. You need to build up that rapport.

You don’t just go in and shoot your shot right away because you can miss so many opportunities without having that good foundation. So getting your feet wet a bit on their feed, consuming some of the content on the feed, and then if you want to go over into stories, the easiest way to get into somebody’s inbox is replying to a story. Because again, those two are connected. So I would say if you want to just go straight into the inbox, reply to a story.

And it’s personal. It’s now one on one, which is why a lot of the conversions happen on stories. There’s so much deeper in the funnel because these people are coming back to watch your stories every single day. They’re warmer of an audience than somebody who has just started following you and is only consuming your content on the feed. That’s why I said you want to think about posting content that’s a little bit broader and higher level on your feed, and then taking it deeper into the stories. If you can get fans of yours in your stories, the conversion and the length of time it takes for somebody to convert is so much shorter because it becomes that personal one-on-one interaction.

Lawrence: Do you see people making a lot of mistakes with their marketing and is there stuff that people should avoid doing?

Amanda: Yeah. And it’s just not a one size fits all type of platform, which I think is probably the biggest mistake. Us thinking that there’s this magical checklist of everything we need to do, whether it is in email marketing, social media, whatever platforms that you’re using, but it’s not like that. It’s so much more based on how your community is reacting to your content, as well as the capacity that you have to keep up with these platforms. Again, post once a week, if that’s all you can handle right now. The faster you get at it, the more you can just layer on. That is definitely the biggest mistake in following the guru’s advice that, “This is the only way to grow, and it’s the only thing that you can be doing.” 

You really need to do a little bit of work of like, again, “What’s that capacity that I have for this? Does this actually make sense for my business?” And I’ll give you an Instagram example here. So I have a friend and he is a video producer. When he first started posting on Instagram, he was posting a lot of text-heavy content. There’s this feature called carousels on Instagram. It basically allows you to add up to 10 photo posts or even video posts in one. And he was posting a lot of text and copy on his page and we had this conversation and I asked, “But you’re in video production. Where’s the video on your page?” And he said, “Well, I heard that if I post quotes and stats and stuff, I could really grow my following.” So I said, “That doesn’t even make sense for your industry because your actual outcome of your product is video. So you should actually be posting in video format and showcasing that skillset. Even get yourself on TikTok. Maybe even start a YouTube channel, use Instagram stories, go live, whatever video. Yeah, you can get your paws on, sink your teeth into that.” Because of his output and what he’s essentially charging people for is video production. So it makes no sense for him to be posting text, quotes, those types of things, which a guru told him was the way to grow on Instagram. If you post a lot of quotes, inspirational types of content, you’re really, really going to grow your platform, but it doesn’t match up with what he’s doing.

Lawrence: Earlier you said these platforms are trying to take TikTok’s algorithm to figure out a way that their users could gain more followers and make more connections, but wouldn’t they know the best way on their own platform to accomplish that, and why wouldn’t they tell their users that if their overall goal is to make sure that their users get more connections and conversations and conversions?

Amanda: So actually, I should say the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has actually been doing Q&A’s and live sessions where he is updating people. There’s actually become a lot more transparency. And he won’t flat out say, “You need to be posting this many reels a day or posting this much to your…” He said things like, “We’re now putting a focus and a priority on video content. So it’s up to us now to put that together, I should be getting on lives, reels, posting videos to my feed, and even getting into stories.” That’s a really good question though, because their mandate, any social media, is to keep people on their platform for as long as possible, especially Instagram because a lot of their income comes from advertising.

They want people to be clicking on those links so they can get a kickback when somebody buys the product and people keep advertising on their page. And now e-commerce on Instagram has become huge. So it would be in their best interest to just tell us what to do, but that’s where companies like mine come into place where I’m like, “Okay, you’re in the real estate industry, here’s how you can go about approaching your Instagram. Here’s what a schedule can look like for you if you don’t have a lot of time, or here’s what a schedule can look like for you if you’re going all-in on this platform. Maybe you’ve even hired a team to start executing on that.” So there are many different ways where you can find this information, but you’ve got to essentially do the research yourself.

Lawrence: You don’t really know how much work goes into it, how much thought is put into it. And it’s not like you’re going to wake up on a Tuesday and be an expert. You really do need help and guidance to get you to where you want to go and I do think a program like yours is a great place to start. I mean, it’s not overly expensive for the results that you’re going to get back, right?

Amanda: It’s one of those things because look, my parents cannot explain what I do to save their life. Neither can my friends. They’re on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to social media and even they are just like, “How did you learn this platform? How long did it take you?”. It’s one of those things that only experience can really teach you, and getting in there, and picking up on the nuances, if that makes sense, because it’s kind of hard to explain, but just like your area of expertise, there are things that only you really know because you’ve been doing it for so long, and you just understand how people move in that industry and in that space.

Lawrence: I also think it’s a benefit that because you work with so many people, you see the results of all different types of industries. So rather than you having a friend that is giving you advice, they only know about their one industry that they’re working on, whereas you, you run the gamut and you help all sorts of different entrepreneurs. So definitely a benefit.

Mikayla: Circling back to analytics. I know you talked about how important it is to look at your metrics, whether that’s on social media, email marketing, sometimes it’d be really hard to tell if your efforts are paying off with your overall marketing strategies. So how do you measure your return on investment and what kind of things in the analytics should you be looking for?

Amanda: So, I always relate it to what is the goal. So if you are starting out on Instagram, your goal is most likely going to be brand visibility and you want to grow your following of course, but an organic and a real following no bots, none of that, people that are actually going to engage with you. So you’re going to want to take a look at insights like your reach, which means the amount of people that have seen your content as well as content interactions. And you can essentially divide the two and figure out what your engagement percentage is from your reach with content interactions, but those are the two to look at. If you’re a little bit further along in your journey and I’ll use my account as an example, I had the goal one month to increase the amount of DMs that I was getting and the amount of story responses that I was getting, because again, the two are connected. So I wasn’t posting to my feed.

And I went all in on focusing on my stories and putting together calls to action in my stories, getting them to answer the questions boxes in the stories or the polls, the quizzes, whatever it might be, to get them used to taking action on my account. So I almost eased them into sending me more DMs. And that’s what I was really honing in on. But going back to the common mistakes, when we go on a platform, it’s like, we want to do all the things all at once. And we’re like, “I need every single number to be green, and if one of them is red, I’m a failure and I suck at this,” but you really need to hone in on where you are in your journey and what are the goals attached to where you are in that journey. And that’s how you can kind of make that progression forward. But doing it all at once is just setting you up for a good cry in the shower, essentially.

Mikayla: You mentioned brand visibility, and brand recognition is really important on social or even in your own general marketing strategy. Brand recognition is really hard to measure as well. So how important is brand recognition? What importance would you say that has?

Amanda: It’s really, really important, especially if you’re a personal brand or you’re trying to position yourself as that go-to expert in your industry. And some of the things that you can kind of take a look at when it comes to in terms of metrics for that are the saves and the shares of your content. Those go hand in hand with thought leadership pieces of content and you provide that high value to your audience. But keeping that in mind when you’re just getting started, you’re figuring out what’s working for your audience. Once you do, again, I know I sound repetitive, but we talked about the importance of repeating yourself, double down on that.

Maybe quotes do work for you. Maybe video content does work for you. Do more of that because that’s how you’re going to be kind of known in the social space as the go-to for that particular topic in that particular industry. Everyone kind of has their shtick, right? Even if you do three other things beyond the main thing that you post about, that’s what people will primarily come to your page for. And then in places like your stories or over in the DM, you can start to impact some of the other layers and levels of your business, where they can really get to know you.

Lawrence: It’s not about putting a billboard somewhere and hoping someone calls you, right? It’s much greater than that. Let’s talk about the WOLFE CO. though. What kinds of services do you offer clients that come to you looking for help, and is there anything specific that you really specialize in? It sounds like Instagram is your go-to, but what do you offer?

Amanda: My bread and butter is definitely Instagram, and the primary offer that I have is my membership. But it’s not just teaching Instagram because I’d bring in other experts, whether they are in the podcast space, partnerships, LinkedIn, TikTok, whatever it might be to teach in their zone of genius. So when you come into the WOLFE membership, this is kind of track one of being a Wolfie, you get the lowdown on how to optimize your account, how to really grow on the Instagram space. But if you’re using any of those other traffic-driving platforms, as we talked about, you can get courses on all of that.

So it’s really all-encompassing, but where I show up and I teach is specifically for Instagram. And now, for those that are looking for more of that one-on-one type of interaction, a done-for-you service, I do strategies for clients where my entire team comes together and we build your strategy, we create your content, we schedule your content and we help you build your community. So you focus on showing up for that live or delivering the content in your course whatever your zone of genius is. So those are my two primary offerings. There are others, but you guys can find that information in my stories.

Lawrence: @thewolfee.co on Instagram. That’s how you can get in touch with Amanda. Amanda, this was a lot of fun. I think you’ve said it all.

Amanda: Thank you for having me.