What Counts On Instagram

What Counts On Instagram

by TwoBrain Media

The ego loves likes.

But the brain knows better.

On Instagram, a string of hearts is a good thing: It means people took the time to double-tap and like your content. That’s engagement, and it’s important. A like is better than nothing, but a comment is even better still. Comments mean people stopped scrolling and took the time to write something, ask a question, offer a compliment, and so on. They didn’t just give you a high five in passing. They stopped to say, “Wow. I really like what you did.”

That said, likes and comments are the singles and doubles of Instagram, to use a baseball analogy. Profile visits can be considered triples, and website clicks are home runs. A profile visit means you did enough to make someone want to learn more about your business. A website click means you moved a person to get off Instagram and get onto one of your properties, where you can educate, inspire, help and ultimately earn clients or customers.

Not to be overlooked: shares and saves. Both are good. A share means a person thinks a friend would be interested in what you have to say, and the sharer is helping you get the post in front of a potentially interested party. A save means a person wants to spend more time with your content later on. It might mean someone is interested but rushed or it might mean a person wants to revisit your content. Either way, you’re winning.

All of this insight is available to Instagram business accounts, but it’s very easy to miss it when you’re watching a string of hearts pop up in your notifications.

Here are actual stats from three posts a gym made in January 2019:

Photo 1: 72 likes
Photo 2: 192 likes
Photo 3: 230 likes

The second and third photos were big hits for this account and generated far more likes than an average post, which receives about 50 likes per post.

So which post was the most successful? You might say Photo 3, which was a creative riff on a popular challenge. The post lacked a call to action and wasn’t designed to do anything in particular. Photo 1 and Photo 2 did have calls to action. The former directed people to a YouTube video, and the latter asked people to book a free consultation. Here are the actual engagement stats for each one, and it should be noted that half of all comments were written by the original poster as responses to organic comments:

Photo 1

72 likes – 5 comments – 2 shares – 0 saves
61 actions: 34 profile visits/27 website clicks

Photo 2

192 likes – 25 comments – 16 shares – 3 saves
12 actions: 12 profile visits/0 website clicks

Photo 3

230 likes – 16 comments – 0 shares – 2 saves
18 actions: 18 profile visits

Photo 1, which had the fewest likes and comments, had a huge number of actions, including 27 clicks that directed the viewer off Instagram and into a branded YouTube video designed to establish expertise.

Photo 2 didn’t have any website clicks—which was the desired outcome—yet the post was shared 16 times. A bit more info: the post featured seniors working out, and 16 people decided a friend needed to see it. This recommendation carries a lot of weight, and in this case it’s hoped that younger viewers of the original post sent it to parents who might need the services featured. Without being able to pinpoint the exact result of the shares, it’s certain that the post reached a warmer audience by virtue of the share.

Photo 3 had a landslide of likes and a decent number of profile visits, but viewers didn’t do anything else. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: They still looked at branding and read more about a business. But a profile visit is far less valuable than a website click.

In short, insight is essential on Instagram. To access your insights, ensure your account is set to “business.” You can do this through the settings menu. To access collected insights, go to your home page, then click “insights” in the menu found in the upper right corner. To access insights for individual posts, click on your post, then click “view insights,” which can be found directly under the photo or video.




Hopefully this short exercise motivates you to look beyond likes and take a closer look at your Instagram data. You’ll find valuable information there, and you can use it to determine which posts to boost, what sort of content to create, and how certain content motivates people to interact with our business.

Systems Before Sales

Last night, my son’s hockey team finally won a game.

One of my service goals is to introduce kids to fitness and sport in our community. So Robin and I sponsor teams, manage teams, and coach teams. I’m not much of a hockey coach, but I do know this: offense wins games, defense wins championships.

We won because we scored the most goals. But we scored the most goals because our defense created a lot of chances.

When the defensemen keep the puck in the other team’s zone, the forwards get more chances to score. And their team really can’t score when the puck’s in their end of the ice. So a few of our kids scored–including mine–but the win can be credited to the defense. All of our offense is built on their foundation.

When I sought out a mentor in 2008, I was looking for sales. I needed money badly. I didn’t even have the money in my account to pay him. So when he started teaching me business systems, I panicked.

“Who cares how often I sweep the floors? I need more clients!” that was the thought I shared with my wife. But I did the work, built the foundation, and started selling.

Many of the clients who were around in 2008 are still around NOW. Most of the same coaches, too. We can sell more memberships and keep people for a very long time because we built the foundations first.

It’s very tempting to chase marketing plans before solidifying your operations. The story usually goes like this:

  1. Gym owner runs a short-term challenge for a bunch of people
  2. Gym owner sees some positive revenue for the first time in awhile
  3. Gym owner becomes a huge fan of the marketing “system”, and repeats it
  4. A year later, the “new” clients are gone, and have taken the old clients with them
  5. The owner still doesn’t feel safe in their business
  6. Sometimes the owner is still working a day job, but doing more work than ever
  7. Coaches are burned out
  8. Ad costs are going up
  9. Lead quality is going down

…and the owner stares into The Abyss, seeing his life spiraling downward. He hates his business, hates his job, hates some of his clients, hates his lack of control over his life. This is NOT what he signed up for!

In our Incubator program, we fix operations and build systems first. That means a career roadmap for coaches; a meaningful long-term relationship for clients; and a few days off for the owners.

We have the best sales and marketing mentorship program in the industry. But we start with systems first, because defense wins championships. When you can keep the puck in the offensive zone, you spend less time fighting fires and more time taking shots on net.

Flipping The Script on Value

Flipping The Script on Value

“My clients would never pay $250 for a gym membership!”


Well, they’ll pay $250 for something. What?


If you asked, “What’s the worst way to price my service?” I’d give you one of these answers:

  1. Copy everyone else, and then drop your price by $5
  2. Take the average of everyone selling “CrossFit” in your area
  3. Guess at “what feels right”
  4. Decide what you can afford to pay, and charge that.

I know, because I’ve done all four of them. Here’s why they’re wrong:


1 + 2: other local CrossFit gyms probably have no idea how to price their service, so they did the same thing. Every new generation of gyms in your town now sells an identical service for $5 less per month. Guess what will happen two years from now? Yep: someone will do what you’re doing for less.


3 + 4: you’ll guess wrong. We all project our budget onto our clients. When we’re in the Founder phase, we have less money than our clients do. Stop projecting your own poverty and fear onto everyone else; it stinks!


The right way to set your rates is mathematical: you calculate your desired income and your projected expenses. Then you figure out how much money you need to break even. You should be able to reach breakeven on 50 clients or less; 30 is better. At 150 clients, you should be paying yourself and at least one solid coach.


“But…30 clients?!? I’d have to charge $250 per month! No one will ever pay that, when every gym around me charges $95!”


Maybe you’re right. Flip the script: instead of asking, “What will people pay for CrossFit?” ask, “What service can I sell that’s worth $250 per month?”


Maybe that’s a 1:1 package. Maybe that’s a small-group session. Maybe that’s a nutrition + group plan.


Sell it, and LIVE UP TO IT. Deliver $250 in value every single month. Signal value in everything you do: look professional, speak professionally, and give them exactly what they’re buying.


It’s probably something that no one nearby is selling. Don’t be surprised. If every gym understood value and its relationship to price, the average CrossFit gym would be charging more than their 2010 rates, not less.


Filling The Media Gap

You need to hit “Publish” more.

When people in your community want to know, “How do I lose weight?” they should immediately think, “I know – I’ll ask Dave!”

I’ve been writing about your need to establish authority for years. We give TwoBrain clients tools to do it: 30-day content challenges, prewritten emails and templates, and even Fill-In-The-Blanks video.

Your business relies on media. If you own a CrossFit gym, and haven’t been publishing content you made yourself, then you’re relying on HQ to do it for you. So far, that’s been working…at least, a little bit. Counting on HQ to make your media is like counting on your clients to tell their friends about you. It’s a beautiful wish. But it’s too passive.

Time to start producing your own. And social media doesn’t count: Facebook and Instagram are distributors of content, not hosts.

Here’s a cue to get you going.

First, ask yourself: am I more comfortable talking in front of a camera; writing a blog post; or recording myself with a microphone?

It doesn’t matter which is best. Pick the one you’ll do.

Second, set a clock for ten minutes. You know how to do that.

Third, start with this sentence:

“My name is _____, and I opened my gym because…”

Then just tell your story.

End before the clock stops. But go ahead and use the full ten minutes if you want.

Then, publish your recording. Publish the FIRST take.

Video: upload to YouTube.

Upload to Facebook.

Upload to Instagram TV.

Blog: publish on your website.

Email to your list.

Audio: Publish to your podcast.


Do NOT try to make this first one perfect. Quantity is still more important than quality. It’s just important to build the habit. Tomorrow, tell another story.


Until today, CrossFit Media has been doing a lot of your job for you. They’re attracting attention to your brand; they’re giving you media to share and replicate and educate. They’re building trust and authority your town, whether you know it or not. What if that all went away? It’s time to take control of the horse pulling your cart.


16 Years, Still A Beginner

16 Years, Still A Beginner

by Josh Martin, TwoBrain Mentor


Back in 2002 or 2003, my brothers started attending a place in our hometown called Velocity Sports Performance. Maybe some of you have heard of this place. In talking with the coaches there, my parents told them that I happened to be going to the University of Florida to study exercise science. They said: “You should have him stop by next time he’s home to see what we’re all about…we think he’d like it.”


That was all it took.


After that, I spent every waking moment I could just hanging out there. Asking questions. Watching training sessions. Studying books and videos. Learning everything by basically following all the coaches around like a lost puppy. Anything that they needed to be done, I was the first to dive at the opportunity.


Sweep the floors? I’ll do it!


Reorganize equipment? I’m on it!


They taught me how to watch and analyze movement in the real world, not just a textbook. They taught me how to write up a single training session and how that single session tied into the overall plan for a specific athlete or even an entire team.


But through all that – the shadowing, the learning, the questions – I still hadn’t officially coached yet. But one day I was sitting in the coaches office talking with them and glanced at the clock – 3:50…about 10 minutes before the next class starts. This struck me odd as normally by this time all the coaches were out on the floor, mingling with the incoming athletes – checking in, seeing how they were doing, etc. I ran out of the office to make sure we had people coming in. Sure enough, we did. I came back in to let them know people were out there and I received a “Ok, we’ll be there in a second.”


Five minutes later…I was back in there: “Guys, are you coming out here?”


“Yea…we’ll be right there.”


Last chance, 3:58, I run back – “GUYS! Its almost time to start class!”


And then they leveled me with: “Oh Josh…we forgot to tell you…you’ll be coaching class today! Get them started on time. We’ll be out there to watch and help if you need it…but we know you’ll be fine. You are ready.”




Talk about pressure and being put under the microscope. I can remember being so nervous that I almost ran to the bathroom to throw up. But you know what? I did just fine. As they said, I was ready…I just didn’t know it. They had been grooming me for this moment for months, they just hadn’t told me. Afterwards, they all shared a big chuckle at my expense, but then lavished me with praise. We all retired back to the coaches office where they each reviewed the things I did well and areas that I needed to improve. They also told me that they wanted me to start coaching regularly if my schedule allowed.


Pay? Not one penny.


Experience? Priceless.


Fast forward three years (in which I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience at the collegiate level) and I begin working at IMG Academies right before I’m set to graduate.


At this point, I had been coaching pretty regularly for a 3 or 4 years. I had experience with professional athletes, D1 collegiate level, youth and amateurs, even “average joe” types that just wanted to get in shape and be healthy.


As the new kid on the block, I also had typical “new kid” duties to earn my stripes – you know, the stuff most people don’t like to do: clean-up, straightening, making things look consistent (and professional) for everyone that came through the doors. You could say that my OCD was honed here! But we did things like this because they truly mattered. Not just to the clients, but to all of the staff too. We took pride in our facility.


At both the mid-point and the end of my time at IMG, we were given reviews/evaluations.


“Josh does a good job of performing duties that are assigned to him, and is very intuitive about the field, but lacks self-motivation at times. Still needs work on being an effective coach in a large group setting.”


Whew, tough huh?


Nope. That’s not how I took it at all.


Wouldn’t trade that for the world either. It is what has kept me motivated not just for the success of my clients (and my gym), but also for creating opportunities for others to master the craft of coaching.


What did your last evaluation say?


What steps are you taking to improve?


How Shortcuts Can Hurt You

When can a shortcut help us, and when can it hurt us? Here’s a four-question test.

We all need marketing now. For the first time, gym owners have access to marketing that works–at least, in the short-term. That’s a huge problem solved. But the next problem to solve is, “How do I pick the marketing that will benefit my business in the long-term? How do I know the difference between a strategy and a shortcut?”

Because we all know that some shortcuts can actually hurt us. We’re fitness coaches, after all, and we spend part of every day telling our clients to stay away from 800-calorie diets and Slim-Quick shakes and pyramid schemes for supplements.

At TwoBrain, we want you to attract clients one at a time; form a personal coaching relationship with them; and keep them for a decade. We use Affinity Marketing, content marketing and high-level Facebook marketing to do that (and it’s all in the Incubator). The other option is to run challenges of 30-40 people at a time through your gym using cut-and-paste Facebook ads. The first is powerful; the latter is a powerful shortcut.

I try not to quote Seth Godin more than once per year, but his podcast today featured a great framework for determining which shortcuts can help and which can hurt. When he’s presented with (or finds) a new strategy for growth, Godin asks these four questions:

  1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a crash diet?
  2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on our culture?
  3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time?
  4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?


Let’s hold group challenge marketing up to Godin’s four questions:

  1. Is it repeatable? Yes…for a few rounds, anyway. But anyone who’s run a large group six-week challenge will tell you that it’s pretty exhausting. Imagine running the CrossFit Open every six weeks, and trying to bring the energy every time while explaining the air squat to a few dozen beginners.
    Big group challenges are fun the first time (I enjoyed the first New-You Challenge we ran at Catalyst two years ago.) But the challenge class times inconvenienced my best members. My coaches got worn out. And the new group took a lot of energy to manage…and then left.
  2. Is it non-harmful? At first, running a big group challenge seems like a positive: new potential members, and a little revenue spike. But more and more gyms are telling us they’re losing their BEST members when they run big group challenges. Their seed clients get less attention; they’re inconvenienced; and they’re often paying more for less service than the new kids get. In addition, if you’re offering bait-and-switch challenges, you’re poisoning your well of potential future clients.
  3. Is it additive (will it improve over time)? Unfortunately, lead quality tends to go down over time, and ad costs go up. When you run challenges over and over–especially the same group challenge–its value decreases every time you run it.
  4. Can it survive the crowd? When multiple gyms run the same ad campaigns in the same city, the problem compounds: ad costs go up quickly, and lead quality decreases, because the best applicants have already done the program. They’re looking for the next thing.


Now, let’s ask the same four questions about marketing to one person at a time, which is what we teach. For background:

Affinity marketing is in-person relationship marketing, referrals and “help first” conversations.

Content marketing is building a foundation of trust and slowly nurturing each potential client toward registration.

And the Facebook Marketing taught in the Incubator is personal “journeys”–sometimes we even call them challenges, but they’re not group challenges. For example, a person might see the ad, do a No-Sweat Intro, and have a six-week challenge designed for them; but their challenge is different from the next person’s, and leads to a long-term relationship with the gym.

Holding this type of marketing up to Godin’s four filters:

  1. Is it repeatable? Yes, you can have conversations forever. You can run ads forever with a lower ad spend, because your’e not counting on one big “splash” of revenue every 2-3 months. And since you’re just adding jet fuel to your normal process, you’re not going to put your staff through the meat grinder; you’re just speeding up your regular process.
  2. Is it non-harmful? Yes, because every new client goes through your typical intake process, and gets introduced to other members when they’re ready. That means you can still keep your primary focus on existing clients instead of ignoring them. And you can get new clients without tricking them.
  3. Is it additive? Yes. As you get better at conversations, you’ll convince more people to join your gym. You’ll also become better at conversions as you do more in a 1:1 setting. And since you’re not running the same ads as every other gym in town, you’ll get better at judging what works, and spend money on only those.
  4. Can it survive the crowd? Yes. We have several cities in which TwoBrain gyms are operating in cooperation instead of competition. They’re meeting different people, running different ads, and still becoming very successful.


There are shortcuts to profitability. Marketing can be one. But big-group challenge marketing is potentially harmful to the long-term success of your business.