You will never beat the algorithm. Here’s why.

desktop with notebook, pen, keyboard, cactus, candle

Was that title too harsh? I know you might not like to hear that, but I would never lead you astray so I’m coming at you with some hard social media knowledge this week as your partner in marketing your business.

How many times have you overheard marketers say, “we need to beat the algorithm to get our content out there!”? I’m going to set the benchmark here at 100 times. And that’s conservative.

At first listen, it *sounds* like a great plan. You want people to see your content. Social media algorithms prioritize certain content, much of which remains a mystery, so surely the best way to reach new audiences is by getting around the algorithm, right?

Ok, no. And let me tell you why.

For one thing, if the algorithm controls the content people see, how can you get around it? I don’t think you can just call up Mark Zuckerberg and tell him you’d like to opt out, thank you very much. (Unless you can because you’re his friend or business partner, in which case, please email me so we can be friends too.)

So you need a new plan. A better plan. And here it is:

Work. With. The. Algorithm.

You heard me. This is one area of marketing where you don’t want to be swimming upstream. Leave that for your creative ad strategies.

So now you’re probably wondering: how do I work with the algorithm when I’ve spent so much time trying to get around it?

The good news is that even if you’ve been trying to get around the algorithm, you haven’t. So all of your post data will guide you through this strategy shift.

Take a look at the likes, comments, shares, and other engagements on your organic (unpaid) social media posts from the last 6 months. Look for your best performing posts and plot out the common themes. What were the topics? How long was the post? What type of image or link did you use?

Once you gather and analyze all of that data, you’ll be better equipped to understand how the algorithm has been sharing your content. The next step is pretty basic: do more of what’s working.

Seriously. That’s it. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel every week. Do more of what’s working and reevaluate every 2 weeks or every month to see if your patterns still hold true. Make adjustments as needed.

Need some help sorting through your data and coming up with an approach? Reach out to me! I’m happy to help get you started.

Crucial editor’s note: organic social media, no matter how well you are sticking to what works, can only get your business so far. And it’s not very far. Working with the algorithm is a smart strategy but it’s not a miracle cure. Facebook and Instagram absolutely prioritize paid content so you should make it a marketing goal, if you haven’t already, to set aside $50-$300 each month to promote your content. Do that on top of your new organic social media strategy and you’ll get a lot farther ahead each month. 

Good luck!

Basic Marketing Tips for the Non-Marketer

Small Business Marketing

You’ve recently started a small business driven by your passions. You love what you’re doing, but now it’s time to get noticed. You have no marketing experience, but you know your business inside-out and backward. Here’s where you start:

Be present on the right social media platforms — not every social media platform

Marketing your brand, like every other aspect of your business, should be strategic. It’s important to recognize two important factors when you consider social media channels. First: not every social media channel will suit your brand. Second: if you can’t maintain a social media channel, consider whether it’s even worth having an account.

Are you a social activist? Take to Twitter. Is your target customer base 50-year-old women? Take to Facebook. Are you looking to reach millennials? Consider Instagram. Do you blog consistently? Go for Pinterest. These are generalizations, but it gives you an idea of how you can start thinking about which platform may be right for you.

Keep in mind that algorithms on these platforms favour those who consistently produce original content that resonates with and engages other users of the platform. That translates to: if you are a makeup artist with no intention of tweeting, your efforts are much better spent on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest that favour visual content. You also won’t be struggling to find random articles to tweet, but can focus on what you do best and showcase that work.

Put your best face forward

When we’re really passionate about our business and our brand, sometimes we hide behind our logos. But humans are looking for human connection, online and offline. Don’t be afraid to show your face! Share photos of yourself on your social media channels, and share your story. Why are you passionate about your business? How did it all get started?

Depending on the type of small business, it may also be beneficial for you to take advantage of face-to-face marketing opportunities like trade shows, night markets, food festivals, etc. Making that personal connection will heighten your chances of landing a client or customer.

You don’t have to do it at all

It takes time to build and implement a marketing strategy! Don’t try to do it all at once, especially if you’re riding solo in your business. Focus on the basics, like actively maintaining just one, maybe two, social media channels. Collect the email addresses of folks you interact with at trade shows; keep a sign-up list on your table.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to build lead generation pages, beautiful landing pages, and master Facebook ads in the first month or six. We can’t compare ourselves to folks who have been at it for years. Take it one step at a time.

Don’t overlook the obvious

With digital marketing and all of its possibilities, we can overlook some more obvious, traditional methods of marketing that are easily at our disposable.

For example, can you list your business online? If you have a brick and mortar shop or office, be sure to list it on Google. If you’re a registered social worker, or counsellor, consider registering yourself online with sites like Psychology Today. If you’re a freelancer, list your services on some of the many sites like Fiverr, or Upwork.

Hosting an event? Invite local newspapers to attend. You may not land a ton of earned media, but you might get a local paper like Snap’d to photograph your event. Free advertising? Yes, please!

Do some research and take advantage of what’s offered to you. 

Numbers aren’t everything

When you’re putting tons of effort into curating visually-pleasing, engaging content, you want to see the reward. I get it. You want more followers, more comments, more profile views. But those numbers aren’t everything. One engaged, supportive follower is better than fifty vanity followers who never interact with you or your business. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use analytics to determine better-performing content— that is absolutely a great next step when it comes to your social media strategy. Just don’t let the numbers get you down. 

When you’re genuine, it shines through in your content. Focus on being you, and talking to your target customer. Engage with their accounts. Reach out. Write the blogs they’d want to read. That’s how you’ll find your people.