Why the Algorithm Isn't the Problem - And Never Will Be


I recently chatted with one of my students - she and I go way back - about her success with Instagram and I was BLOWN AWAY by what I heard. Over the past year, using Instagram, she sold over $2.3 million in real estate. It’s also important to note that she’s not some seasoned real estate pro who’s been in the game for decades...this was her first year. Wait...there's more...keep reading.

Here’s the really cool thing - Instagram is the only way she markets herself. 😱 Crazy huh? She’s not sending out mailers or knocking doors or lurking in neighborhoods asking people if they want to sell their house. Instead, she’s being strategic about how she uses Instagram to build relationships and close the deal (using the system I taught her YEARS ago that is STILL working to this day).

Let me walk you through how she did it using the what I call The BFFL System.

Oh...and in case you’re wondering (I know you are)...those sales resulted in a nearly six-figure commission check at the end of the year for her. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

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What it takes to sell on Instagram - there are just two things you need to know and understand to make it work.

People think to sell on Instagram, you also need a Facebook group, an email list, Facebook ads, and all these other things. I'm here to tell you that none of that is true. Listen, all of those are nice to have. Pretty pictures on Instagram - they're nice to have. 10,000 followers - it's nice to have. An email list or a Facebook group. All great things, but to get started and sell on Instagram, you just need two things. An audience and an offer.

The first thing when it comes to an audience, is clarity around who the heck you're talking to. You need to understand who you want to attract and who you do not want to attract in your business.

You need to get really clear on what they're looking for from you and how you can best serve them. Get really clear on their values and what's important to them. Know as much as possible about them so you can know what they want and how to best communicate with them. You can tell them everything they want to hear, but it won’t do any good if you’re not communicating in a way that translates to them.

The second thing is, you need to have clarity around is your offer. So, what are you actually selling to people? A lot of times, I hear people from across the spectrum who are selling products or services there's not a lot of clarity around what they're actually selling. From teaching my students in the Follower to Fan Society and in my own business, I've been learning how to get really clear on an offer.

When we think about our offer, our offer is more than just the product or service, right? The offer is the entire experience of purchasing from you. The offer is made up of the thing that you actually sell, but then how it's delivered to someone, how it's positioned for them, how it's presented to them, what the customer service is like and what the experience is like when that thing is delivered to them.

How she made sure Instagram worked for her business by setting herself apart and focusing on being herself (and not trying to be anyone else).

So what made this work really well for my student was that she had complete clarity on her audience and her offer. She knew she wanted to target millennial first time home buyers and her offer was her help in navigating the home buying process to make it easy and simple while taking into account her client's finances - their student loans, getting qualified, getting a mortgage - you know, adult stuff.

But what allowed my student take her business to the next level? I mean, there are lots of other realtors out there doing this. Just like in any industry, there are other people out there selling the same product as you. There are other people delivering the same service as you. So how did she, and how do you stand out?

Well, for her, she was herself throughout this whole process. She knew that if she wanted to stand out on Instagram, that she needed to show up as herself - truly, honestly and genuinely. And that was how she was able to set herself apart.

I’m not just saying that because it’s what she thinks worked, or what I think worked. That is what her clients told her. She talked to several of her dream clients about why they went with her, versus the other guys.

So, why did they choose her? Her personality and who she was, how she made the process simple, and how she took on the stress and frustration that went into home buying herself, so the client never knew about it. She showcased her personality through Instagram so that clients could truly get a sense of what it would be like to work with her.

That’s huge, right? That is something that she was doing as a real life human being, not a robot, not an Instagram celebrity, not someone with a cute happy little life where every other picture is a marble table top with a succulent on it. She was REAL.

What The BFFL System is and how you can use it to sell more on Instagram...without being sales-y, slimy, or sleazy.

So the BFFL system stands for best friend for life, just like the original acronym, I just like co-opted it.

BFFL is all about relational marketing. Now, this is going to be a mindset shift, but I want you to think about whenever you are on Instagram. How many of you feel like whenever you’re on Instagram, you feel like the energy that you're putting out on Instagram is a pushing energy? Do you feel like you're pushing your product or service out there, you're pushing an idea out into Instagram, you're pushing a concept onto your followers?

Instead of asking yourself, “How much content can I push out? How often can I push my content out? How frequently can I push this offer out to my audience?” I want you to shift your focus from pushing to pulling.

Instead of pushing your product or service out there, pushing your offer out there, pushing a sales page out there, pushing content out there, you are pulling your followers closer to your business and you're inviting them to learn more about you, what you do and why you do it. When you adjust your mindset and you recognize that instead of pushing your content out, you’re going to focus on pulling people closer to you. That allows you to create content that's more interesting for your followers because it's not overtly salesy.

I actually find this way of working to be more fun as well. It’s not just posting and running off of Instagram. It's more fun to create content, because there's this genuine intention that goes behind it. You can create it more honestly, because you're not just trying to create content and push it out there from a, a kind of a place of trying to get a sale or the scarcity mindset, right? So instead we want to pull people closer to us. We want to tell our story, so we pull them a little bit closer. We want to educate them, so we pull them a little bit closer to us so they, they see the value in following us and being a part of our communities online. We want to inspire them, so we pulled them a little bit closer in and they feel like they can do this too, whatever that may be.

So, we want to pull them in and build a real relationship with them. That's where direct messages come in. That's where Instagram stories come in. That's where using posts that have calls to action that invite our audience to comment, come in. When I say pull, I'm talking about creating content that is valuable, educational, inspirational, and that is inviting them to have a conversation with you.

So the first part of the BFFL system is to shift the focus from pushing to pulling, and the second part is to find the one thing you will use the system for.

You want to speak to one person about one topic with one type of content with one end goal in mind, and that's it! One thing is what drives success on Instagram. That's what the most successful Instagrammers are seeing. So for example, for me, I talk to creative entrepreneurs about how they can market their business online by creating content that's meaningful and intentional and my goal is to get them to become a part of my community and join the Follower to Fan Society. That's the process. That's what it looks like for me. If you don't have that one thing in your business, it's going to be really, really hard for you to make this work for you because you're going to get very scattered on Instagram.

One person, one topic, one type of content with one goal in mind. So for my student, as I told you earlier, this was her speaking to millennial, first-time home buyers about buying a home with content that was all about why she was the best person to walk them through the home buying process. And then she filled in the gaps with her content to let them know she was the one for them. The goal was to get them to the place where she could hand them a set of keys to the home of their dreams.

Why "the algorithm" isn't the problem and it never will be.

What you are hearing about Instagram for other folks who teach Instagram can get a little bit too algorithm focused, right? I actually did an interview recently and someone said, “How can we beat the algorithm? How can we hack the Instagram algorithm?” And the truth is, you can't. There's no way to, and also we don't need to! The algorithm is actually really valuable for us as entrepreneurs and as content creators because it makes our content last longer and makes sure that only the right people are seeing our content.

Since our content is visible for longer periods of time, it allows us to create less content. So, when we do create content, it's higher quality. There are a lot of really great benefits of the algorithm. We're not going to beat the algorithm. Instead, we need to learn how to use marketing strategies on Instagram that are effective and they get our point across and that allow us to connect with the right people.

The algorithm is not your enemy. Also, the algorithm is just an excuse that a lot of people blame for not having success in marketing their businesses online. But, we all can take ownership and responsibility of what we’re doing.  Take ownership and responsibility of this process. Take ownership and responsibility of building relationships with people.

Use the BFFL system to get really clear on the one type of person, the one thing, with one type of content, with one end goal in mind, and to focus on the relationship and pulling them in closer, instead of trying to push a bunch of content out onto them to make it happen.

And that's how you use Instagram to market your business. That's how you use Instagram to grow what you're doing. That's how you use Instagram to sell. That's how you close out a year. That’s how you make $2.3 million in sales from Instagram. It's pretty incredible.

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Keagan Trahan