Social Media

Slaying the Algorithm: Conquering the Beast of Social Media

By Ali Ryan on July 10, 2023

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A group of people on on their phones as notification bubbles come from all of them for various applications.

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, whether we like it or not. It shapes the way we connect with each other, how we share information, and also how we consume the world around us – for better and for worse.

Behind the scenes, social media algorithms play a crucial role in determining what pieces of content users see at any given moment. Understanding algorithms is essential for the modern-day communications professional to make an impact in the digital realm.

In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of algorithms, explore their significance, and discuss practical strategies to navigate their complexities.

First of all, what is an ALGORITHM?

At its core, a social media algorithm is a set of ‘rules’ and patterns of behaviour that determine the order in which content is displayed on social media platforms. Algorithms use a variety of factors to determine what users see, including engagement metrics, user preferences, relevancy, and a lot more that is likely beyond our comfortable comprehension.

We won’t even discuss why we get served ads for searches that we’re only THINKING about (lol).

Each platform has a unique algorithmic system designed to enhance the user experience and maximize engagement. Algorithms have even advanced in a short period of time to predetermine what types of content can go viral or which audiences they will best serve – just in estimation.

We know, CRAZY to think about.

A person is holding up smartphone to a storefront. The smartphone is focused on a dress and various notifications appear.

Okay, now why should we care?

Simply put, understanding how algorithms work allows us to optimize content to increase visibility and reach the right audience.

Algorithms also enable us to understand our audiences better and more concisely. We can leverage this information to create highly personalized and targeted campaigns, leading optimally to higher conversion rates and improved ROI.

Algorithms also make our strategies, from a 360 perspective, so much EASIER. This includes optimizing how often an account needs to post and what trends brands or creators can jump on and offers a window of insight into what types of content to create that will best resonate.

It feels like Thanos and the Infinity Stones for the Marvel buffs out there. Those who understand algorithms can create content that goes the longest mile. Commanding the ‘infinity stones’ of wisdom when it comes to an algorithm allows you to catapult your brand strategy tenfold.

How do I ride the wave of the algorithm?

To get fantastical (again), think of the algorithm as the beast that it is.

What does the algorithm like? Well, the algorithm rewards high-quality content that is relevant, informative, entertaining, and valuable to the target audience. Read that again.

Focus on authenticity. The algorithm can smell a fake from ten miles away! Algorithms value authentic interactions that encourage a sense of community. Responding to comments and actively (and authentically) engaging with the audience helps to establish a strong online presence in flow with the algorithm’s likelihood to serve your content.

What does the algorithm think about when it’s falling asleep? Data, data, data. The algorithm pays as much attention to your analytics as YOU should, too. Regularly analyzing performance metrics and audience insights can provide valuable insights for optimizing your content and strategies.

The algorithm also despises the status quo. Algorithms are constantly evolving, and what works today may not (and likely WILL NOT) work tomorrow. Make sure your team is testing different content formats, posting times, and strategies to adapt to algorithmic changes.

Gulp! Now I’m scared of the algorithm.

Don’t be. This ties back to the importance of empowering your social and community managers and leaning on them to be the experts in engagement. A dancing, unhinged green bird is taking over TikTok? Sure, listen to them. In the fast-paced world of social media, understanding and becoming one with the algorithm is essential for communications professionals. By cracking its code, you can leverage knowledge to craft effective content strategies, enhance brand visibility, and drive meaningful engagement. Adapting to the ever-changing algorithms and embracing data-driven approaches will empower you to harness the true potential of social media.

Only if you’re up to take them on, of course.

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