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Social Strategy: Outsmarting the Algorithm

"How do you get noticed on social/not get drowned out by the algorithm?"

This question was submitted to me via Instagram last week, and I couldn't resist accepting the challenge to help people with one of the most challenging parts of social media: beating the Algorithm.

Facebook's Algorithm is an enigma to most people, including those in social media marketing. It's always changing, and because they don't say "hey, this is our algorithm right now - do this to get noticed," it takes a well-developed strategy to get the organic reach we all crave. Adding to the challenge, according to Sprout Social's 2019 Index, Facebook is still the number one platform for both brands and consumers, so we can't just leave in frustration. It just means diving in deeper to our content development and planning to get the right messages out at the right times.

I count myself lucky; I am a Sprout Social User. They provide so many resources to marketers to make our lives easier. They also have their system set up to help you maximize your organic reach with options like Viral Posting Times and Sprout Queue. The Sprout Queue will allow you to upload a lot of posts in one sitting, and then their system will send them out to your audience when the time is right. These are two functions that, honestly, I refuse to live without. #SproutUserForLife

With the proper strategy, you can still reach your audience organically without sinking your entire marketing budget into targeted ads. Here are a few tips for you to try that can help you adjust your social media with ease.

For the Times They Are A-Changin'

Timing is one of the most important things that you can look at when it comes to your audience and when you should be posting. I know we all think, "I'm at work, this is our business hours...let's post now!" But ask yourself, if you're at work, is your audience also at work? If so, then maybe the 8-5 posting concept isn't the best one for you. Maybe 8 PM versus 8 AM. Instead try catching them when they are home and settled in with their favorite streaming service for the evening. Trying non-business hour posts is important if you are a B2C business and not B2B.

If you are trying to sell your service to people versus a company approaching them during their free time could be a big part of your success. While we all know we look at social media during the day, we also know a lot of companies have policies against this, so we don't want to miss out on reaching that audience. If you are posting during the day thing about the logical shifts in a person's day. Posting over lunch breaks, when a person may be out of the office to pick kids up from school or hits that part of the day where they need a break from their work to check out social quickly.

Look at the analytics that Facebook provides you as to when your audience is online most. Pay close attention to the days of the week, the time of day, and the number of your followers who are online at those times. Use that as a guide when it comes to post scheduling. If you're using a program like Sprout, HootSuite, or any of the variety of programs available to marketers, check out to see what options they have for analytics and posting suggestions.

Data is going to be your best friend through this process. The more you have, the better equipped you will be to set up the right plan to reach your audience, gain engagement, and make those vital connections with people.

Video Killed the Radio Star

Links and photos are no longer enough. Videos will stop people in their tracks and cause them to watch what you've posted. This can be done in several ways. There are a variety of options, finding the right one for you is most important.

Live videos are one of the more accessible options. You don't have to do editing, there's minimal prep, and the only thing you need is a camera on a computer or mobile device. Live videos also provide you the option to have your audience ask questions while you're on video that you can answer. It's building a one-on-one connection with your audience. You're talking to them as if they are standing in your office or store having that same conversation except using this platform more than just that consumer gets the answers. It's a more conversational way of approaching your audience.

Instagram and Facebook stories are another huge way to reach your audience using videos. These can be as short as a few seconds or done in 10-second snippets that add up to a longer video. Many people find this a less intimidating form of doing video. I will admit I am one of those people. I've yet to dive in personally to the live videos. I'm admittedly an anxious person, and listening to myself and looking at myself on video is too much, haha. That and let's admit it, most of us who work from home don't always look "camera-ready" on a given day. I think I have a few days worth of eyeliner giving me a raccoon look today.

The other way to get great video content is to use your fans and share their content. Did you have someone attend an event that did a testimonial about how great it was? Share that! Did you have a person do an unboxing of your product? Share that! If you are an organization with ambassadors or members, try having them put videos together. Maybe it's why they love your organization, why they are excited about attending something, what they have gained, their favorite product you offer, honestly the sky is the limit with these. People love putting a human face to an organization, and it doesn't always have to be the CEO or staff. If you've seen a celebrity unboxing a FabFitFun Box, you've seen this style of marketing at work. Influencer marketing is a great way to reach an audience, find a way to adapt it to your business and run with it.

The reverse is also just as helpful. Have those fans, brand advocates, or employees share your content. It's not just important that people see it from you, but see that people are excited about what you're sharing enough that they want to share it too.

All We Do is Win

Engagement baiting. Just don't do it. The Algorithm will find you, and it will not be kind in your punishment.

Not sure what engagement baiting is? Have you ever seen a post that says something like:

  • Justin Bieber or Harry Styles? Like this post for Justin. Share this post for Harry.

  • Comment YES if you love spaghetti as much as we do!

  • Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Tag four of your friends who are kind!

That is engagement baiting. The post is just looking for people to like, comment, and share on it. The individual gets nothing out of it. The brand, however, gains awareness because people are following along. Facebook's Algorithm looks for these posts and does it's best to hide them. So just don't do it.

Here's how to accomplish it properly. If you're doing a giveaway, say four tickets to your next event, try this.

We've got a great show on Monday night featuring The River Bottom Nightmare Band. Tag three of your friends and tell us why you deserve these tickets. We will pick a winner at random on Sunday night!

Facebook can see from the giveaway post that there is a reason you're asking for people to comment and that someone is going to win tickets. Another way to encourage engagement without baiting people into doing something for nothing is by asking a question. Here are some great examples:

  • Monday, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. How are you celebrating?

  • We LOVE pasta. What is your favorite noodle and sauce combo?

  • We can't stop playing Harry Styles "Fine Line" in our office. What is your current 'go-to' music in your office?

A critical part of having a question in a post is to continue to create engagement by responding to it. Don't just let it sit there. If they tell you their favorite sauce and noodle combo is bowtie with alfredo, ask if they add chicken or shrimp. If they tell you that they are currently jamming out to Lizzo, ask them their favorite track on the album. Your social media is meant to be conversational.

The one thing I want people to avoid here is fake giveaways. Have you seen your friends sharing pictures of a brand new Jeep, and it says one person who shares it will win and that they have to redo the giveaway because the winner was 17? THAT IS A SIGN. It's not real. Don't share it. Don't create that content. If you're doing a giveaway, give the thing away. Post who the winner is. Include a picture of them with their tickets or a photo of them rocking out to The River Bottom Nightmare Band. Bonus points to anyone who knows where I got that band name.

All Night Long

Let's be honest. I could keep going on about different tricks. There's a lot. But the few that I listed should give you a start to helping reach your audience, create engagement, and keep them engaged.

Still struggling and think you need a little more help? That's what I'm here for! I have a variety of packages available to help meet the needs of small businesses and non-profits. Set up a one-on-one consultation, and we can see if my services can be of assistance to you and your organization.

Peace, Love, and Data!


If you are interested in adding Sprout Social to your business's social strategy click here:

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