For those in the furniture industry looking to raise their game on social media, the algorithm is king. It controls who sees your content and when they see it, and trying to overcome it without a guide is rather like climbing Everest in trainers and a jumper.
The truth is, the algorithms behind most social media platforms prioritise paid-for content, so your organic posts are always at the mercy of someone willing to spend money on theirs. Then there’s the set of rules by which the computers judge your content - who’s engaging with it, what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, what type of content your uploading … the list is pretty long, always hidden and often changing.
So, what can you do to combat the algorithm and make some headway in growing your followers?
Fortunately, there are a few rules you can follow that might help to make sure more people see what you want them to see. These aren’t a hard-and-fast set of rules laid out by Instagram or Facebook, but more some tried and tested, common-sense methods by companies such as ours that often yield results, so I might well be in trouble for giving away some trade secrets when my colleagues read this!
First off, social media platforms love a bit of video (many are explicit in it being part of the algorithm) and the more you can introduce videos into your posts, the better off you’ll be. Something as simple as a walkthrough of a project filmed on your smartphone (preferably with a gimble for a steady shot) can do wonders to improve your content in the eyes of the computers judging it. There’s been a sea change to video in the way we consume information online – whether that’s headline news or just updates from our friends and family – and the social media algorithms are just trying to replicate this.
Embrace the new
Use the new features of platforms as much as possible, particularly when they’re ushering in big changes. A prime example of this is the introduction of Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories to combat the growth of Snapchat in the youth market. The move certainly shook things up a bit – Snapchat has been losing users for over a year – and, naturally, Instagram and Facebook will be keeping up the pressure.
Prioritising the normal feed content of users that publish stories regularly is a way to do this. Also, with a limited lifespan, stories are a great way to inject a bit of humour and life into your social media activity without spoiling that corporate look (if you’ve got one to maintain).
Also reflecting the ongoing wars between social media companies, using cross-platform sharing tools to distribute one piece of content can also help to make you look good in the eyes of the algorithm-crunching machines. By creating one piece of content and then using the ‘share to’ functionality built into apps, you’re likely to record a better hit rate, particularly as that double dipping also means you’re posting more regularly on the platforms.
The clue to the next tip is in the very name of the subject matter we’re involved in. Be social. Whether that’s asking questions in your posts, commenting on other people’s posts or sharing other’s content to your feed (making sure it’s not originated from a competitor), this is a great way to show the algorithm that you’re interested in more than sharing monotonous, often repetitive content.
Along this line, hashtags are also a good way to get in front of the people that might be interested in your content, and even finding content that you might want to engage with by sharing or commenting. Just try and find the hashtags that are relevant – but not too niche to ensure you aren’t narrowing your audience unnecessarily. Also, don’t be silly – try and restrict yourself to two or three at most.
Time it right
Timing, too, can play a role in getting your post seen. Just think of the times you look at content – on the way to work if you commute on public transport, lunchtime, watching TV, etc – and mirror this with your posts. It’s pretty likely that there’ll be others in your industry following just the same routine.
I’m not promising that following these tips will be your answer to a dramatic rise in followers or page likes, but they’re certainly ones we use here to some success. Ultimately, it’s a process of trial and error, and experimenting is all part of it. Just remember, though, that paid-for content will always win through. It’s just the way things work.
Tom Bourne is the creative director at Select First (industry PR).