Welcome to the 21st episode of the #AskAPrivateLender​​ Podcast brought to you by Mortgage Automator. Continuing with our efforts to bring you more information about how to grow your private lending business, in this episode we have covered another very important, but often overlooked, part of marketing your business—social media.

Our guest is Tracey Nguyen, the founder and CEO of BOWO CREATIVE Inc, a Toronto-based social media agency. Tracey has built her career by cultivating her personal brand, and now she is helping other entrepreneurs do the same. She is highly proficient in all things social media and had some great insights to share with us. If your private lending business is not on social media, you are missing out on business opportunities. Listen to this episode to find out why!

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

 

Lawrence: Today I’m joined by Mikayla, she’s our social media coordinator. So, if you’re ever browsing our Instagram, our LinkedIn, Mikayla is the great person who deals with all of that stuff. Why we have Mikayla with us today is because we have an incredible guest for you. Tracey, thank you for stopping by today, we really appreciate your time. For those of you who don’t know Tracey, she’s the Founder and CEO of BOWO Creative, an incredible social media agency. She really does it all, but she got her start in the beauty industry and really exploded her business from there. 

Tracey: Thank you so much for having me.

Lawrence: So you are the all-around entrepreneur, content creator, business coach, mentor. Can you tell us, how did you get your start in the social media arena? 

Tracey: Long story, but I’m going to try to keep it as short as possible so we can talk about more important stuff. I graduated from York University in business, and I’ve always wanted to get into marketing. But, for whatever reason, I went into management, instead. And so, after I graduated from school, I got a corporate job in management. Quickly, three months after working at that job, I realized that I was not made for this. I just hated sitting at the desk all day and looking at numbers, and I just found myself watching other YouTubers creating their content.

Back in 2012, Instagram was very new and very organic. Just literally take a picture, apply one of those ready-made filters that they have, and post. So I was like, there’s something about this, I don’t know where this is going to go, but I saw some potential in social media. And then I was looking to start an online business, actually, something that I can do on the side, kind of like a side hustle, while I still have my corporate job, because I couldn’t just quit my job and pursue entrepreneurship.

So I started looking into different options, and a friend of mine actually introduced me to a network marketing business structure. So, I was like, “Great.” They checked some of the things that I didn’t have, and I didn’t have to put my time and a lot of my effort into it. And so I registered my business, I got in, and I realized it’s not what I thought it would be. 

That was just not how I wanted to create that image of me and just wasn’t authentically me. I couldn’t see myself hosting home parties and getting people over. I wasn’t blessed with that kind of personality, so I was like, “Let me take a look at what other channels out there that I can really be myself and build my business at the same time.” So that’s when I discovered the blogs and YouTube, and social media because I wanted to just review products and tell people what I really think about them, and whoever could relate, then they might become a customer. That’s how I got started.

I was just reviewing a bunch of makeup products that I was selling, and then I started getting emails from agencies and other brands were sending me free products. It started with free products, and then it became paid partnerships, and I started to see more potential than just my network marketing business at the time. And then even within that network marketing business, I was able to climb up pretty high, and was almost like the top retailers and top recruiters of the year, in most of the years, because I was building this personal brand, and I didn’t do it the traditional way.

So, at some point, the corporate in the US also asked me to train their distributors on how they could build personal branding as well. So that’s when I started thinking, “Wow, not only can I build this for myself, I can also help other people create a brand that is really authentic to themselves and generate income or revenue for the business.” And then I was doing the training, I got more people coming to me for more questions, and it just kind of snowballed into an agency now.

I left the network marketing business a while ago because I just feel like my business, the agency, right now, really speaks to me, and I can talk about branding all day long, I can talk about helping entrepreneurs all day long, and I get really passionate about it. So, I will say the network marketing was actually a blessing in disguise, in the sense that it gave me the opportunity to see things that I couldn’t see before, and now we’re here.

Lawrence: It was a stepping stone for you. I always feel like it’s a formula. And if you understand the formula, whether it’s in beauty, mortgages, lending, you stick to that same formula, and you understand how to get it to the next level, read the statistics, see what’s working, see what’s not working, and build whatever business it is. 

Social media hasn’t been around for that long. I think that there was a period of time where the big brands weren’t really interested in it. They were doing their traditional marketing, their television commercials, their billboards, etc. Over the years, of course, things have changed. How do you stay on top of all the latest trends, and is there something that businesses should focus on to ensure that it’s always going to work, and their social media platforms are always going to be great, regardless of all of the things that are surrounding and happening?

Tracey: Absolutely. Earlier this year, in January, I woke up one morning, and my Instagram account was disabled, it was completely gone. Absolutely no warning, no reasons, nothing. And I have grown this Instagram account since 2012, and I had around 23,000 followers on that account, and it was gone like poof, overnight. I’m still fighting to get it back, I still don’t have it. I decided to take six months off because I am a big believer that the universe has your back. So when that happened, of course, I was in shock. It took me a few days, and I realized maybe this happened for a reason, and maybe I need to take a step back and really focus on actually building my business, and create a system behind this whole social media thing. Within six months, our agency doubled our revenues. We hit our 2021 goal in six months, without social media. 

I’m so glad you asked that question, because a lot of the time, people think that they have to put all of their eggs on social media, it’s like an all-or-nothing kind of mentality. And then they get really overwhelmed every time there is a change in algorithms and all of those changes that Instagram does. I think the best thing to do is to go in with the right strategy and have a goal. Because sometimes business owners or entrepreneurs feel the need to be on social media because their competitions are on there, but they don’t really have a clear strategy for themselves. They just kind of jump in and be like, “Oh, she’s doing that and he’s doing that, and I should be doing this.”

But really, what works for you might not work for other people, and vice versa. So you need to really have that strategy for yourself and build it in a way that social media is like icing on top of the cake, but your business system is the cake in itself. Also, use social media as an amplifier for your brand, not something that you put all your eggs in. So there are still many other things that you should take into consideration, like, do you have a funnel in place? Can you get leads while you sleep? Are you collecting your potential clients’ information in your database? Because at the end of the day, you don’t own that social media space.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Clubhouse, whatever it is, that’s just a place that you rent to market your business. But you have to follow their rules. If you have a website, and you have a lead funnel or some sort of leads magnet going on on your website, you have content on your website, at the end of the day, you own that database. You have people putting email, phone numbers, and whatnot.

I was actually talking to another software company because we want to implement SMS marketing with our agency as well, because we are seeing how these days people are even reluctant to give their email. So you have to really have a strategy with that email marketing. But email marketing, till today, is still the best form of conversion. It has the highest conversion rate compared to any social media platform. So, there are so many other ways that you can build around your social media strategy so that you are solid.

Mikayla: Right. You mentioned strategy and how you can incorporate social media into, say, email marketing, like you have a funnel, which is very beneficial. Of course, you need to have your goals in place, your strategy in place, and social media is just a piece of that puzzle. Since you know our audience, how would they be able to use social media, and what other kinds of things should they be doing or would you recommend for them to have in their strategy?

Tracey: I like to call the content strategy the three E’s. If you work on these three E’s, your content will, guarantee, attract your target audience. But before that, you need to know who you’re talking to. You need to really understand your entire audience, where they’re hanging out, what kind of information they’re looking to get.

But the three E’s essentially are, number one, if your content is sending some empowering message that attracts a lot of people. Because we all need some positivity, especially during this time. And then number two, educational. Especially for your target audience listening to this podcast and the industry that they are in, education is really important, because people need to know more about you, what you do, and then feel that they could trust you to actually come to you and do business with you because we’re talking about lending and mortgage.

And then the last one is entertaining. We see this with Instagram reels a lot. Sometimes I start scrolling reels, and two hours later, I’m still on the phone, because it’s just so entertaining. If you can combine being entertaining and providing education at the same time, that would be amazing. I have a feeling that Instagram is trying to drive TikTok out of business, like how they did with Snapchat. So, they’re really prioritizing content like Instagram reels right now.

I know it can be very intimidating for a lot of people who are not in the social media world, but trust me, it still takes me half an hour to an hour to create one reel. So, we’re all going through that. Stop focusing on having perfection, and just put something out there and be authentic, and you’re going to attract the right audience.

Lawrence: But is it quality over quantity, or quantity over quality?

Tracey: Absolutely. Quality over quantity, but sometimes I feel like when I say that, people think the quality is like, “Oh, I have to look like this influencer or this person that has millions or thousands of followers.” But you can still get customers, and you can still build a business with less than 1,000 followers on social media, if you can deliver the right content to the right people. So understanding your audience, number one, is super important, before you even go out to do anything.

Number two is understanding you, who you are, how you want the world to see you, instead of looking at everyone else and trying to do what everyone else is doing. I cannot dance, and so on my reels, you won’t see me dancing whatsoever. But I really enjoy doing those lip syncs, and people love it. So I’m like, “Oh, that’s my lane.”

So find something that works for you and you actually have fun doing it. Number three is, have a goal in mind. Like, what is it that you achieve by putting out this content? Because again, followers and likes and all that stuff are vanity metrics. At the end of the day, how much money is your business generating from this content that you’re putting out is more important?

Mikayla: You mention IG Reels, and that’s a really popular form of content these days, short-form videos. You mentioned TikTok, as well. TikTok has been a popular up-and-coming platform, and also Clubhouse. What are your thoughts on platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse coming into the social media game, and businesses jumping on those? 

Tracey: I think that you have to understand your audience, the very basic part to start because then you will know where they hang out. I am personally not on TikTok, just because my type of clients are small to medium businesses looking to scale the business and are overwhelmed already. They don’t have the time to run social media, that’s why they’re looking to hire our team to come in and help them. So they’re not going to be on TikTok watching my content.

But let’s say, if I have an online course that teaches a solopreneur or new entrepreneurs to grow their brand and their business online, then maybe TikTok is the place to be, to give them some tips and tricks and get them to see that I have values to offer. But that’s, unfortunately, not my current target audience, so I’m not on TikTok. I’m also not on Clubhouse, because again, that’s not where my target audience is. I think that every single social media platform that you see out there has its own potential, but the good news is that you don’t have to be on every single one of them, and the good news is that once you know exactly who you’re talking to, you can really have a solid strategy to go about those.

Lawrence: What about how Facebook started as a university platform. It started with Harvard, and then other universities, and then it opened up to anybody, and then it opened up to children. And then you see the same thing with Instagram, where it started out as a younger demographic, and now it seems like… Mikayla puts posts up on the Mortgage Automator Instagram, and my mother’s commenting on them. Things change. So when you’re talking about demographics on a TikTok, for instance, and now it’s a younger crowd, I think I’ve seen a shift a little bit to an older crowd. Do you think that in five years, if TikTok is still around, it’s going to be a different platform? If it is a different platform, do you want to get an early start, or do you just figure it out later?

Tracey: Good question. I think Gary Vee has a really good talk on this one because he always recommends going into the lane that is not too crowded … because it’s easier for you to stand out, because your content is different than the rest of th