There is one word that can stir fear into the hearts of content creators, and that word is the algorithm. This computer-generated action can make a piece of content go viral. It can also leave a post hidden in the back corners of the internet.
If you’re a content creator or business owner with an online presence, you’ve probably had your own battles with the algorithms. Feeling ecstatic when one post gets over 10,000 views then utterly confused when your next post barely gets over 100 views.
Not to fear, there is a way to overcome this battle with the algorithms. In this article, you’ll learn five tried and true strategies to beat social media algorithms and build an authentic and engaging community online.
What are algorithms and what purpose do they serve?
You may be wondering what ever happened to the organic posting. Why do social media algorithms exist?
Contrary to popular belief, they don’t solely exist to drive content creators crazy. They are actually a way to put the content you most enjoy in front of you more often.
According to Sproutsocial, algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy instead of publishing time.
It’s a more forward way of recommending content from your favorite content creators. This way you see the latest posts from your favorite makeup artist instead of numerous dog pictures from your aunt.
And although this sounds practical in theory, algorithms are far from perfect and sometimes suggest random videos and content. Since it’s not a perfect machine, there is no perfect formula to follow. One day you may be in sync with the algorithm the next it treats you like a brand-new account.
However, there are a few techniques that marketers and successful content creators have used to stay on the upside of the algorithm Follow these five steps to increase your online visibility.
Engagement, or how viewers interact with your account, can help you grow if you have it. Without it, your account will stay stagnant. Depending on the platform, engagement can be the number of likes, shares, reposts, comments, mentions, and clicks on a post. Engagement tells the algorithms that people aren’t just swiping past your content and are really interested in it.
Here is a breakdown of what engagement can look like across different platforms with recommendations from Hootsuite.
Instagram: Instagram pays attention to who you message, comment on, and share content with. If you want to boost your engagement make sure you encourage people to comment on your posts and that you respond to those comments quickly. Also, engagement through direct messages or DMs can also help bring your posts to the top of someone’s feed.
YouTube: With YouTube, they measure engagement through likes, dislikes, and subscriptions. This is why it’s important that you remind viewers to click the like button and subscribe to your channel. The seemingly mysterious YouTube algorithm also measures click-through rates, which is how likely someone is to click and view your video based on your thumbnail image and title.
TikTok: This platform focuses on likes, comments, shares, and views. Therefore you want to make videos that people can leave comments about, and want to watch the whole way through.
Twitter: Twitter is a little different than the previously mentioned platforms as engagement is based on retweets, favorite tweets, and who mentions you in their tweets.
Overall to increase your engagement you want to create content that people can interact with. The goal is to get them from mindlessly scrolling to intentionally consuming.
2. Don’t focus on going viral
With people making entire careers from simply posting videos, it can be easy to think that all you need to a few viral videos to reach internet success. However, going viral isn’t a great long-term strategy.
Viral videos are known for getting tens of thousands of views, which can feel pretty good to any content creator. The problem is people interact with the video, not the account where the video is from.
In addition, if you’re running a business and using social media for marketing, your end goal is to attract clients, not just followers. Viral videos can help your audience grow, but if you’re not in front of your ideal clientele, your engagement will suffer.
Instead, focus on the quality of your content. Think about what information your audience would find most helpful. How can you create content that answers their questions? What content would they enjoy and want to share with their friends?
Remember that social media is a social system. A few viral videos might get you some attention but your time in the limelight will eventually fade.
3. Use a call to action
A call to action is a little reminder for people to engage with your content. You may be familiar with other influencers commenting in their video with phrases such as “ remember to like and follow. “ Yet to create a powerful call to action, you want to include the why. For example, adding commentary such as “ follow me for more fashion tips “ or “ subscribe for more travel hacks”. People are more likely to follow the call to action if you give them a good reason.
If you want to take CTA’s a little further, you can get viewers to sign up for your email list. This a magical place where algorithms don’t exist. Everyone gets a chance to engage with your content.
4. Follow the trends
Having trendy content might seem to like you’re selling out. Yet there are some advantages to following trends. Now, this isn’t to say that you need to replicate every trend you see. Instead follow the trends when it feels right to you, and when you feel you can add your creative spin to it.
When you recreate trendy content, it’s more likely that the algorithms will take notice of your video because you’re using something most people like. When you add your unique spin to it, you can connect to new audiences you may not have reached before.
5. Use hashtags and keywords
Hashtags have been around for years and now are commonly used both within and outside of social media. However, more than just a symbol followed by random words, hashtags when used correctly, can help you increase your visibility. They’re a great way to connect to other accounts with similar interests or raise awareness.
Here are the most important things you need to know about hashtags.
- Follow and use hashtags of your competitors or influencers in your niche
- Use hashtags that are trending
- Use hashtags that are specific to your brand
Keywords work similarly to hashtags and can help new people find your account. Keywords are phrases and words that users commonly put into search engines. For instance, some keywords for fitness may be, ‘workouts’ or ‘workouts from home’.
When using keywords, Amanda DiSilvestro from Neilpatel.com recommends using keywords in your social media headlines as well as your bio or description.
Bonus tip: Follow platform accounts
Sometimes, it might feel like algorithms are secretly evil and only play favorites with certain creators. However, the truth is that social media platforms want everyone’s content to perform well. This is why many platforms such as Youtube, and Instagram give you bonus information and tutorials on how to use their systems. Check out the creators’ account on Instagram as well as the Creator Insider channel on Youtube to get professional advice on using different features. Following these types of accounts will also help you stay up to date on any algorithm changes.
When it comes to posting on social media, the most important thing to remember is to try not to outsmart the algorithm. It is a machine, not a video game or a person. If you post content based on what you think the algorithm likes, you’ll end up fighting a losing battle. At the end of the day, some content will do well and others won’t. When this happens pay attention to analytics and adjust accordingly. The most important thing to remember is to make content that you care about and for the people you want to influence.
As a strategic content creator and blogger Meredith San Diego, she advises that you sometimes have to say “screw [the algortithm] & create for you & for your audience.”