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The Problem with Social Media Algorithms

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Shafqat M. is presently Head of Content at Locate Translate UK.

The Problem with Social Media Algorithms!

The Problem with Social Media Algorithms!

Controversy Surrounding Social Media Algorithms

Controversies aren't hard to find these days. They are in and around everything, and social media algorithms are no different!

Blatantly put, algorithms play gatekeepers and allow only content to feature in user feeds that it deems meets certain requirements. Since requirements vary from one platform to another, marketers find it hard to please each and every algorithm.

Those requisites aren't necessarily quality assessments, but parameters on which social algorithms rely while ranking users' posts. I've discussed those parameters or criteria or signals fairly enough in How Do Social Media Algorithms Work.

So the controversy is that marketers see algorithms as barriers of sorts that:

1. Bars them from free access to their target audience,

2. Curtails the reach of their content or brand message!

You can say algorithms are boogeymen of sorts sitting on marketers' backs.

Algorithms can severely injure the reach of business posts. This has been the subject of much controversy surrounding social media algorithms.

Sometimes anomalies or bugs creep into algorithms and cause platforms running on them to hide 'certain' content. Which by the way is done at random, and may crush even fully optimized posts.

The exact opposite is the YouTube phenomenon where some videos out of nowhere happen to garner millions of views only because YouTube algorithms recommended the video to millions of random viewers.

What is the Cause of Problem with Social Media Algorithms?

The evolving nature of social media algorithms is the cause of the problem for many marketers. Algorithms are constantly evolving and in their evolutionary spiral, become more sophisticated with each update.

Good for algorithms though, it's marketers who have to bear the brunt of complications arising from the continuous evolution of algorithms into smarter beings.

A major complication is that it puts marketers in the flux where they've got to adapt to the changing and evolving algorithms to reap the benefits of social media marketing.

Consequently, marketers have to tweak their content strategies every time new updates are rolled out. Adapting dynamic marketing strategies is the only way to stay relevant, and not to forget, to remain in the good graces of algorithms.

Nevertheless, social media algorithms ensure, for the most part, that good content ranks fairly well.

Deploying machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science techniques, social media algorithms parse data and rank posts based on its relevancy, resonance, and user engagement.

Shrewd marketers also perform hit-and-trial experiments with algorithms to get a better idea of what and what doesn't work.

The result of this shrewdness is that marketers have got the inkling of Instagram algorithms cracking down on brand posts explicitly endorsing social selling.

And the same fate is in store for transaction-specific posts, which bear the brunt of Instagram algorithms.

Are Algorithms Helpful to Marketers?

If algorithms are friends, not foes, then why do social media algorithms irritate marketers?

Certainly, social media is the best place to promote your business if you're into social media marketing (SMM) but algorithms are irritating, so say, marketers.

The reason they say so is because of the updates social media algorithms receive frequently that disturb their content's ranking of these platforms.

How marketers can utilize social media algorithms in their favor?

There are two ways to deal with social media algorithms: one is to consider them a hurdle and the second is to work through them to turn them in your favor.

The second way seems practical and very prudent than the first approach and makes sense too because algorithms cannot be overlooked. Any attempt to circumvent social media algorithms will do more harm than good, and in the long run, may even destroy your prospects.

Learning to work with algorithms is the way forward and can prove to be a rewarding strategy. Once, as marketers, you understand how social media algorithms work, you will be better equipped to

a) optimize your content,

b) make your campaigns more effective, and

c) grab the top position in user's feed.

You can achieve all of this by creating content to the satisfaction of social media algorithms. And creating such content means understanding algorithms and the ranking mechanism and criteria algorithms leverage to rank posts.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Shafqat M

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