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Secrets of the algorithm

Snow covered sistletoe with text reading "Uncover the secrets of the algorithm"

Do you want to beat the algorithm? Ensure your posts get seen by all your followers? Boost engagement, double your DMs and hit a million followers?

We all love these quick fix promises. Tips that ‘guarantee’ an overnight change in your social media fortunes and, possibly more importantly, lay the blame for a stagnating growth rate at the door of The Algorithm™. The problem is that there is no quick fix. There is no secret sauce. There is no “beating” the algorithm.

The secret of the algorithm is that there is no secret to the algorithm.

The real secret is that even the likes of Facebook don’t know the secrets of their own algorithm. They set it up and the algorithm then teaches itself based on the billions of actions on the network every day. You can’t beat the algorithm; nobody knows how and it is constantly changing anyway.

Snow covered sistletoe with text reading "Uncover the secrets of the algorithm"

Everyone’s feed is different

Social media algorithms are designed to make the network as addictive as possible for every single person, so they show every single person different things based on their personal interactions with content on (and off) the platform.

Platforms are aiming to show content to people which keeps them on their platform longer, that makes them engage more on the platform. If someone has bought from you, likes your page and regularly engages with your content, they will be shown more of your content. If someone likes your page but always scrolls past your posts, they will be shown less of your content. This is partly what creates the “I’m only shown my top 25 people” style posts, you’re not but if you only regularly engage with certain people you will be shown more of their content and less of everything else.

We control our own feeds; what we consume and react to is what we get more of.

The “trial” feed

There is a theory that posts are shown to a percentage of your followers initially and, based on their response, then distributed more widely.  I don’t work for any social network so I cannot confirm nor deny that. What I will say is that if it is the case, you shouldn’t be changing your content or tactics because of it.

Shadowbanning

There is evidence for this. Certainly if Instagram considers your activity to be sketchy; liking/commenting/following too fast (i.e. like a bot), using banned hashtags or if you’ve been reported several times, they will limit your reach for a period of time.  Honey Bee Social have an excellent article about Instagram shadowbanning and banned hashtags which includes a full list of banned hashtags.

How to beat the algorithm

Create great content.

It really is that simple. Create content that is designed specifically for your target market. Be interested in their ideas, experiences and opinions. Add value, ask them questions, be more than a sales account. Offer people something and be clear about what you want. Be a human!

It’s hard work and time consuming, that’s partly why you need a social schedule which you can maintain, not a more more more attitude. Putting out content which is truly tailored to your ideal client will always give you the best chance at success on social media.

The algorithm tl;dr*

If you’re struggling on social, the first place to look is your content. Nobody wants to consider that their content isn’t great or that it’s not what their clients want but it’s far more likely than The Algorithm™ taking against you.

For advice on where your content needs tweaking and how you can improve your social content, my social media audits are just €50/platform. I also offer monthly social media management for all sizes of business, book a free, no hard-sell discovery call now to chat about your needs.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

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Twitter Chats

Following on from my last post about the basics of Twitter, I wanted to talk about Twitter chats which are a brilliant way to build & engage your community on Twitter. They are real time discussions around topics and questions which users can follow via the chat’s hashtag on Twitter’s website or app, or on various websites which also collate all the chat tweets for you. My method of choice for Twitter chats, and Twitter as a whole, is Tweetdeck.

The key aim of Twitter chats is engagement. They could be considered the digital equivalent of an Ann Summers party; while you may have things available to buy, selling is not the focus. Digital dildos aside, your Twitter chat should aim to provide fun and/or information while truly engaging with those attending.

Twitter Chats: How To

  • A great way to ensure you have time to reply and retweet during the chat is to schedule the topic announcements or questions in advance.
  • Plan out the timeline of your chat, an hour is common but many over-run, and schedule content that inspires discussion over that time.
  • Consider how long it will take for people to read and reply to each question; some will likely be more in depth than others so take that into account.
  • Remember that you are not providing all the content, you are providing a skeleton which other Twitter users will flesh out with their answers and opinions.

Depending on the topic of, or reason for, the chat, it can be a nice idea to provide a highlights post a day or so later. There are also a variety of apps and websites which can collate all of some of the tweets into a shareable document, though I would recommend doing it manually if at all possible, something your social media manager could help with!

Ultimately, whether running your own Twitter chat or joining in someone else’s, ensure you focus on adding value; share thoughtful answers to the questions and leave the sales pitch at home.

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The Basics: Twitter

Continuing my series designed to help you get your small business on social media, even if you can’t afford a social media manager just yet, let’s look at an often misunderstood network; Twitter.

As a micro-blogging platform, succinct needs to be your watchword. With only 160 characters to play with in your bio and 280 in each tweet, Twitter is not for the verbose! To find out if you should be on Twitter, check out my post about how to choose a social network for your small business. If you’ve already decided that Twitter is for you, here’s what you need to know:

Your Profile

Twitter profiles are very much a less is more situation, so keep this in mind when setting up your profile.

Username: Your username or handle is @_____. This should, if at all possible, be the same as on every other social network. Usernames can be up to 15 characters in length so shortening of business names is often required. Be creative, but not too creative; people still need to know who you are. You can change this later but remember that your followers may find themselves tagging the wrong user if you do.

Name: Your name, the bold text that appears next to your username, can be up to 50 character and may contain emojis and special characters. Using either your real name, if you are a solopreneur, or your business’ full name are both good options. You can change your name at any time and it will not affect people tagging or searching for you on Twitter.

Profile photo: This is the small, circular image that represents you, it will appear next to every tweet you send and in your profile. Remember this image often appears very small, especially on mobile, so logos may be difficult to see. I recommend a photo of a face, with or without your logo on it, which both engages others and is more easily identifiable on the feed.

Cover photo/Header image: This is the large, long image at the top of your profile. Ensure any image you upload is designed to be the correct size for this space and takes into account the location of your profile photo before being uploaded. This is a great place to add sales, seasonal events or a little more visual information about your business.

About: Use your 160 characters wisely! Be specific about what you do, allow your personality to shine, embrace emojis if they fit with your brand but do not ramble. This is your sales pitch to anyone considering following you; make it good.

Website: Ensure you link to your website or, if you don’t have one, a landing page, email sign up page, or even another social media account. If you are pushing something specific you can change your website URL for the period you are promoting that to make it easy for new followers to find your special offer or event.

What & when to post

With the speed of the Twitter feed more is definitely more but do not sacrifice quality just to keep up. You can re-share evergreen content from your website/blog, tweaking the phrasing and/or image in the Tweet, retweet and share other content you love from across the internet. Again, be creative. You can use nuggets from a blog post to top up your Twitter feed. If you want to be really radical, don’t link to the original blog post, just offer up that useful content as is!

Consider including your thoughts on relevant topics or news items in your Tweets, this is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. What did you learn today? What went on behind the scenes today? Share your tips and tricks related to your business. Use the ability to post so often without it being spammy to offer a variety of content which can engage all kinds of people.

With that said, don’t feel you have to be posting constantly. Choose set hours on set days and spread your content out. The feed moves quickly but you don’t have to be in it all the time. If you can find 100 pieces of great quality content every day for Twitter, more power to you but, in my opinion, upwards of 5 tweets a day, 4 or more days a week is a winner, and remember to schedule time in your day to check and reply to messages.

As ever, remember that this is social media; engage, add value and forget the hard sell.

Twitter scheduling

I recommend scheduling your tweets. Unless you have time to sit on Twitter and manually post 5 or more times a day, apps like Buffer can save you a lot of time and also allow you to quickly re-schedule still relevant tweets, meaning less time scrambling for more content.

The Twitter basics tl;dr*

Be concise! Don’t feel you have to post every hour of every day, find a schedule that suits you. Try a variety of content and don’t be afraid to re-share things you’ve already posted.
And of course, get posting and see what works!

If and when you’re ready for someone to manage your social media for your small business, please get in touch so we can discuss how I can help you free up your time and take the stress out of social.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.