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What the f#ck is ‘The algorithm’? Why should you care? And can you beat it?


When it comes to running a business, social media is pretty crucial nowadays.

Part of being successful on social media is getting as many people as possible to see your posts.

The ‘algorithm’ is what decides how many people see your posts.

This leads me to the original question…

What the f#ck is ‘the algorithm’?

…also, why is it being a dick about my posts?

Quick (and very basic) explanation of the algorithm and how it works.

Let’s say Steve has 1,000 followers on Instagram

When Steve posts on Instagram the algorithm doesn’t show his post to all 1,000 followers.

Instead, it will show it to the handful of people who usually engage with Steve’s posts.

(This is also why the same few people are always at the top of your feed when you open Instagram, even though you follow thousands of others)

For the sake of the example, let’s say that’s 25 people.

If those 25 people engage with the post, by liking it, commenting on it etc…the algorithm will assume it’s a good post and show it to more people. Say, another 50 people.

If those 50 people engage with it, it’ll get shown to more people. Say, another 100.

And so on, and so on…usually for 24/48 hours.

The total amount of people the post is shown to is called ‘organic reach’

Why does the algorithm exist?

The job of the algorithm is to make sure everyone stays on the social media platform for as long as possible (ultimately, so it can show them more ads…because that’s how social media sites make their money)

The algorithm does this job by showing every user a perfectly curated feed of posts they want to see.

The algorithm uses hundreds, if not thousands of data points to accurately predict what you want to see when you open up your social media feed. That’s why it’s so damn difficult to close it down once you’ve started scrolling!

Long story short, if you want to be successful on social media, you need to satisfy the algorithm.

How to beat the algorithm

With all this is mind…here are some of my tricks that you can use to satisfy the algorithm, so it rewards you with more organic reach.

  1. Avoid adding links to your social media posts – Remember the job of the algorithm is to keep people on the platform. If you put a link on your post that takes people away from the platform and to your personal website, the algorithm won’t like it. And it won’t show your post to many people.
  2. Avoid posting from 3rd party apps – If you post via a scheduler rather than directly on the platform the algorithm doesn’t like it. I do this a lot because it’s convenient. But doing this means fewer people see your post. Weigh it up for yourself and make your decision.
  3. Engage for 20 minutes before posting – If you spend 15-20 mins commenting on other people’s posts before you put your own one up the algorithm will reward you with more organic reach. You’re bringing people to the platform with your comments, so the algorithm will like you!
  4. Use multiple images – Posts with 3 or 4 images always seem to outperform posts with a single image. But don’t go overboard with hundreds of pics. Nobody looks through all of them. I’d say 5 is the max you should use on any social media platform.
  5. Keep videos short – People have short attention spans. 15 seconds is usually touted as being the optimal length. Under 1 minute is good. Never go over 3 minutes unless you’re on YouTube.
  6. Post consistently – Social media platforms need content to keep going. If nobody posted anything they’d be shut down in a week. Because of this, the algorithm will reward people who post consistently. Think of it as building up brownie points. Your organic reach will steadily increase over time if you post consistently.
  7. Use stories – Another way to post more frequently and make the algorithm like you is by using stories. So don’t forget to do these too!
  8. Respond to all your comments – If someone comments on your post, make sure you respond to them. Each time you do, you are bringing people back to the platform. The algorithm loves posts with lots of comments. (Also, it’s polite!)
  9. Ask questions with your captions – When you create a post, try and include a question. Invite people to respond and comment. This will mean your posts get more engagement and the algorithm will reward you with more organic reach.

Want more free tips on marketing specifically for decorators? Of course you fucking do.

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