September 3, 2020

7 Ways You’re Misusing Social Media Algorithms

The ominous algorithms behind the social media feeds that give us our daily dose of cute animals or stunning vacation pictures can make it feel difficult to make your business stand out. When investing your resources in developing a digital presence, it’s easy only to look ahead to find what more you can do to succeed. However, while it’s essential to be on top of the latest marketing trends and new social media tactics, it’s also important to consistently reflect on your past performance and cleanse your social media strategy of common mistakes. 

What Social Media Algorithms Mean for Your Online Presence

Engagement is the hallmark performance metric of social media marketing, which social media algorithms are heavily involved in determining. Engagement refers to how many people are clicking, liking, commenting, and sharing your post. The engagement rate for each post is in a feedback loop with most social media algorithms.

  1. The more engagement your post receives means better algorithm performance.
  2. The better it performs to the algorithm, the more likely your post appears at the top of a user’s feed.
  3. The more likely it appears at the top of a feed, the more likely it is to receive engagement.

Do you see a pattern? So, while it’s easy to blame these algorithms for every dashed social media dream, creating posts better suited for your viewers on each social media platform makes algorithms your best friend rather than your marketing villain. 

With frequent updates and ambiguous preferences, the sweet spot of these algorithms remains an elusive target. However, social media platforms do tell us some highlights of what strategies serve their algorithms best, and they give clues in historical performance metrics to the content types that will be promoted the most through them. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes that could be derailing your social media growth.

Your Strategy Doesn’t Optimize Your Content for Each Platform

Especially with software tools that allow you to publish content easily on multiple social media platforms, using the same content across your accounts can be an easy habit to develop. However, people consume content differently on each platform. The content that succeeds on Facebook won’t necessarily succeed on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on. Sharing the right content on the platforms in which people expect to see it and when they want to see it, you can set your posts up for optimum engagement and algorithm traction.

Additionally, your purpose on each platform shouldn’t be a stagnant broad goal. By crafting marketing goals specifically for each platform with their algorithm user goals in mind, you can develop a clear marketing strategy that uses your social media channels to their fullest potential. 

For example, Instagram can be used to cultivate a community with younger followers to develop brand awareness and long-standing brand loyalty. On the other hand, your Facebook page could consistently share educational content to establish brand authority. Set your marketing goals strategically for each platform, and you’ll naturally start to differentiate the content on each. Your followers will be more fulfilled, and your content will be better aligned with social media algorithms. 

You’re Overlooking the Power of Video

Social media algorithms love videos. In particular, they love the videos created by accounts themselves directly on the platform. So, the next time your business has shareable videography, rather than linking to a YouTube or Vimeo video, upload the video directly to the platform instead. 

Video performance on social media has recently boomed, mainly due to the preferences of algorithms. Whenever there’s an occasion for a content-worthy video, take the opportunity to capture it. Whether you’re sharing branded videography for lead generation or highlighting a fun office event, your followers will be far more likely to engage with it, and the algorithms will reward you for it. 

People tend to have shorter attention spans than we expect, and videos need to be digestible. Hence, there’s a reason Facebook divides the Watch section from regular content, and Instagram has IGTV generally separated from standard posts. So, make sure to capture videography with your user experience in mind, keeping your videography length appropriately short and dense with valuable content.

You’re Not Sparking Conversations with Your Followers

When writing captions for your posts, ensure that you are generating conversations with your audience. You can ask questions or start discussions with your viewers to encourage more engagement. When people engage with your posts, make sure to continue the conversation with them by promptly responding to any comments or questions. 

You’re Using the Wrong Hashtags (and Too Many of Them)

Hashtags tend to be a confusing aspect of social media for many. Deciding when to use hashtags, which ones are the best to choose, and how many to include aren’t always obvious. To get the most out of hashtags and the algorithm bonuses, try to use them when they add value to the user experience. Your post won’t perform well under a hashtag where it doesn’t belong, so think about what users would search for that your content could satisfy. Using trending hashtags is a great way to get your content in front of a broad audience, but only do so when you’re adding to that trend’s narrative and when it makes sense for your brand to do so. 

If you’re adding just about any related hashtag you can think of to your social media posts, that’s a habit to leave behind you. While this may seem like a great way to put your post in front of as many users as possible, viewers tend to look negatively upon these long lists of hashtags, and you likely won’t see traffic from many of them. Typically, a few key hashtags are optimal to make your post successful. Additionally, rather than having a list of hashtags trailing your caption, try incorporating them organically into the copywriting where it makes sense. 

You Haven’t Found the Right Publishing Frequency

When considering when to post and how often to publish content, think strategically about what will best serve your users, and meet their expectations. It’s often best to reflect on your own past performance for insights into these considerations. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide to creating a social media publishing schedule, so finding what works best for you will require experimentation alongside performance monitoring and adjustments.

On Twitter, feeds are still mostly chronological. Thus, the frequency at which you post will be a factor in your viewings. While it’s important to have quality content everywhere your brand engages, the timeliness of Twitter posts may still give your content an upper hand with their algorithms. Try igniting timely discussions to combine timeliness and personability for even better algorithm performance.

On LinkedIn, think strategically about this being a business network platform. According to Hubspot, posting during business hours is optimal, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to show better engagement rates, but weekdays are generally the most critical publication days altogether. 

Posting more isn’t always better, as Facebook and LinkedIn accounts tend to see a significant drop-off in engagement after their fifth post of the week. If you don’t have valuable content, delaying your schedule will be better than posting erroneously. As a rule of thumb, you should be posting at least twice per week on every social media channel that your brand operates.

Instagram and Pinterest tend to allow for more frequent publications, as cannibalization between posts tends to be less significant. These platforms can be used best by posting more often throughout the week, safely up to once daily. Pinterest allows the most frequent publication for success with multiple posts each day.

Your Social Media Focus is On Your Own Business

People love people, and the same goes for people behind brands. Get out of your comfort zone when promoting your brand by:

Doing so gains your audience’s attention and interaction much more effectively. While followers love your products or services, businesses are humans first, and social media is a great place to garner lead generation through a variety of unique strategies that build into your brand and tie deep connections to your community. 

With content centered on people and the aspects of your brand that go beyond your product and service, you can engage more viewers and benefit from algorithms that prefer less sales-centered content, uploaded photos and videos, and account interactions.

You’re Using Your Call-To-Action As Your Caption

Lately, social media algorithms have been cracking down on posts that only serve sales and offer little other content-rich substance. While these will still circulate, they may not see the reach and engagement as in the past. When writing your captions, keep your copywriting clear, but make it engaging. Avoid typical sales language and entice viewers to convert. In the same way a salesperson merely standing in your office couldn’t boost sales without convincing customers, your posts won’t drive conversions without engaging copywriting. 

Make sure to pair your sale posts with engaging graphics or captivating videos to elevate your content further, capture your viewers’ attention, and gain traction with algorithms.

Get the Most Out of Your Social Media Efforts

Social media is a valuable tool for your business to engage with your audience, grow your presence, and drive conversions. Traversing social media waters with waves of new updates can be overwhelming, but with the right strategy and team, you’re sure to succeed.
Converting customers starts with converting social media algorithms from your foe into your friend. For help crafting a strategic marketing plan that will propel your business’s growth with social media algorithms on your side, connect with our marketing team at PHOS Creative.

Whitney Snyder

Whitney Snyder

With faith in fostering empowerment through imagination and building community through connection, Whitney’s excited to spark meaningful relationships with clients. During her time as an Inbound Marketing Intern, she aspires to help clients integrate their voice and purpose into creative marketing strategies that continue to share their narratives with the communities they serve.

While away from PHOS, you can find Whitney studying for her degrees in Biology and Business Administration at the University of Florida. Her free time is usually swept up in testing out a new recipe in the kitchen, cultivating an indoor jungle in her apartment, and belting out to her favorite showtune classics.