The algorithms utilized to determine social media rankings have been a source of controversy among the business community since their inception. You are either a beneficiary of them or stuck in the quagmire of poor results while cursing your luck.
They were designed to make it easier for end users to find and follow the content they are most interested in and are continuously tweaked to ensure the best possible results. As social media marketers, it is nearly impossible to keep up on each opaque change and maintain the market share needed for commercial success by traditional methods (i.e. just throwing darts on the proverbial wall).
The only way to stay on top of these changes is to completely change how you approach social media. By understanding the underlying approaches in this new age of social outreach, you will be better positioned to adapt and stay ahead of the competition. Thankfully, getting this understanding is vastly easier than it appears on first glance.
Social Media Algorithms – What Are They?
These algorithms are developed by recording user interactions and developing a mathematical model that is updated on a regular basis. In short – it is a social media company’s attempt to quantify human behavior. The end result is a social media feed based upon what is determined, mathematically, to be of interest to the end-user.
This is in stark contrast to the older method which rewarded material based upon “freshness” alone. Now, the impetus has been shifted to the content creator to continuously prove that the material is worthy of sharing. Informative, accurate, and entertaining content will win out over new material any day of the week theoretically.
Why Were They Developed?
Money – specifically advertising revenue. Social media sites needed to develop a funding mechanism that would not alienate their product (the end-users). These companies were able to maximize time spent on site, and thus increase potential marketing opportunities, by finding a way to more easily connect interesting content to readers.
The results have been staggering, with Facebook alone rising to have well north of a billion users just ten years after creation.
It also helped advertisers that could not afford traditional marketing by creating increased opportunities for organic growth. The increased focus on interesting content rewarded creators that took the time to understand their target demographic and develop engaging material, creating a virtuous cycle that occurs much more readily than in the early days of social media. All you need to do is engage with your followers and the community will swell around you.
Beating the Algorithms
There are many ways to develop a social media campaign that leverages (or at least neutralizes) these algorithms. Here are some popular tips that can help you obtain success with your next marketing endeavor:
Ask For A Share
This is one of the easiest ways to organically boost your social media ranking. Include a request in your CTA for users to like, comment, or share your material. The results will be of note even if just a small fraction of the readers do engage in this manner.
The more engagement occurs, the higher your post will rank. Strive to create an active conversation between your brand and the end users with every possible opportunity. Some ways to start this include:
- General Inquiries
Here is an example of a Twitter poll used by Urban Outfitters - and it was a huge success from an engagement perspective, with over 5,000 votes, 50 retweets, and 80 favorites!
Request Users Authorize Push Notifications
Push notifications cut out the middleman when reaching users. With push notifications you will be able to notify end users immediately, eliminating the risk that the almighty algorithm scores your content too low for inclusions on the regular listings.
Doing so will also help solve the “chicken and the egg” quandary that plagues new posts, at least for those that already have an established presence.
Share Interesting Content That Reaches Your Target Demographic
Engagement will not occur if the material is not interesting. Make certain that your material is of note to your audience by understanding the market demographics and segmenting the population accordingly. For instance, a single campaign may have dozens of posts targeting each subsection. In this instance, the old method of creating engaging content is the same as the new. Know your audience and you will succeed.
Reach Out To Users With “Tags”
Notifications are sent to end users whenever you tag them on a social media platform. Invariably, this will encourage them to visit your post and start a conversation on the topic. Just be careful to not randomly “tag” people – only connect with those that have a stake in it. The author of an article is a good example, or an individual you know will be impacted by the content of the post. Here is an example of a tag on Facebook from Mari Smith:
Pay Your Way
Fresh brands often have the most difficulty in establishing a stable foothold. The reasons for this vary, though the solution is often direct advertising. Every major social media network, from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram, offers companies the opportunity to purchase promoted posts that are guaranteed to reach your target audience.
Just remember to treat this like any other SEO (search engine optimization) advertising endeavor and experiment with a limited budget first. You should be able to transition to a more organic growth pattern after success here.
Review Your Stats
Any marketing endeavor comes with uncertainty. It is a wise idea to always assume that a component of your advertising campaign is unoptimized in at least a few areas and to take the time to identify and correct them. Additionally, you may discover new opportunities for your campaign in both the organic and algorithm departments.
Organic Social Media Marketing Will Survive Algorithms
Algorithms have shaken the social media marketing industry to its core in both good and bad ways. Much like polling changed the way traditional advertising is approached, these algorithms provide a way to better understand end users and reach those most interested in your content. You will be able to more readily engage with your audience without wasting time or capital by developing a familiarity with these systems.