How to Beat the Social Media Algorithm for Every Platform, Every Time

Why do you use social media?

No, really—why do you use social media? As a real-life person with interests, needs, and wants. Not as a digital marketing ninja (which you totally are).

According to Global Web Index’s 2018 study, your answers probably look something like this

Top 10 Reasons for Social Media Usage

The thing is, most companies are not using social media the same way that we, as people and individuals, are consuming it. Marketers often make the mistake of looking at social media as a platform for free or cheap promotion rather than customer connection. But here’s the secret: these companies are completely missing out. And this is how you can not only beat the social platform algorithms, but beat the competition, too.

Step 1: Figure Out and Build Your Social Media Tribe

The top thing that people use social media for according to the previously mentioned study is “to stay in touch with what my friends are doing.” Your challenge then, if you choose to accept it, is to establish yourself as a (potential) customer’s friend. You need to prove to them that you are part of their tribe or that they need to be a part of yours. This type of marketing is often referred to as tribal marketing. If you have about 20 extra minutes, check out this TED-Ed talk about tribes from the master himself, Seth Godin:

Although well accepted, tribe marketing is often poorly executed by up-and-coming companies who all too often succumb to the temptation to push product and features, rather than connection and benefits. Focusing on, and building your tribe around, the connection opportunities and personal benefits that your product provides will have a distinct impact on your social marketing.

Here’s a few things you can expect:

  • When executed correctly, tribal marketing leads to word-of-mouth marketing—widely accepted as the best way to get someone to purchase your product (and a great way to get new followers!).
  • Marketing to consumer tribes engages people naturally. No longer do you have to roll your eyes every time you’re forced to write yet another boring, and mildly aggravating, CTA. Instead, when you really understand who your customers are and market to them, they’ll actually want to click through. Crazy how that works, right?
  • Your followers will want to share on social media how they are using your product and how it’s impacting their lives, giving you even more social proof to attract new customers.

The caveat with tribal marketing is that this is a long-form game. Just like it took time to establish meaningful relationships and connections in your personal life, it is going to take time to establish deeply rooted relationships with your customers. But once that link is established, you’ll find that it will be a difficult one to break.

Step 2: Master the Principle of Give, Give, Give, Take

You know that one friend that only ever talks to you when they need something? They’re the worst, right? Yet, so many startup companies allow their social marketing strategy to revolve around constant asks for consumers. Click through! Snag the discount! Sign up today! They never end. And consumers are tired of it.

Instead, follow the principle of giving back to your customers in at least three posts for every time you ask them for something. Giving back to your customers can be anything that doesn’t directly involve them purchasing your product. Here are a few examples:

  • Ask for opinions: For ecommerce this can be especially fun (and beneficial) when trying to decide between product styles. This gives customers a little sneak peak and lets them know what you’re up to.
  • Be a source of information: Everyone likes to be in-the-know, so be the source to keep your customers in the loop. Are most of your followers in a certain geographical area? Post about fun, related events in the area! Are your followers made up of Star Wars enthusiasts? See if you can get them some hot tips on how to up their cosplay game!
  • Let them tell their story: Never miss an opportunity to allow your followers to talk about their experiences. This can be a powerful way to connect with them, especially if you have a platform where you can bring up topics that have a high emotional impact. At Grow, we make a huge effort to visit our customers in person and get their stories about how data tracking grew their company.
  • Be clever: Everyone loves a good clever quip—that little giggle can literally make a person’s day. And bonus: it’s likely going to be your most shared post, because who doesn’t want to share a good laugh?

You may have noticed that we specifically underlined the word directly when talking about these giving posts. That’s because we’re not telling you to never talk about your product or to not include your product in that many posts (then you may risk irrelevancy). The point is to position your product and company in a way that will allow you to post these types of content, so that customers can clearly understand the personal benefits they’ll gain from having you be apart of their lives.

Whereas tribe building is a long-form game, this strategy can be implemented right away and contributes to your consumer-tribe-building efforts. Although you may experience a small decline in followers and traffic initially as those who are not in your tribe prefer to unfollow you, you should be able to see a clear increase in engagement rates and CTRs as you create content that is engaging customers, not selling them.

Step 3: Track Everything

The thing is, you probably have a good idea already about the types of people that are in your tribe and what kind of content is actually interesting to them. However, you really don’t know which sub-types of that content will be the best (think inspiration mondays vs. funny fridays or quick votes vs. paragraph long stories). That is why tracking your post and post-type metrics are crucial to you beating the social media algorithms. Here are the two key metrics to start tracking today:

  • Engagement Rate per Post: This is calculated by reach so you can determine how engaging it was for the people who actually saw it.

( (Comments + Likes) / Post Reach ) * 100

Grow Social Media KPI - Post Engagement Rates by Week

With this particular metric, we would also recommend that you set a low, medium, and high rate of engagement. For reference, above 3% is good, 1.5-2.9% is fair, and 1.49% and below is poor. However, you can get more specific benchmarks for your industry by checking out Rival IQ’s Benchmark Report.

  • CTR per Post Type: You can pull this from most social platform analytics, and it will help you understand what CTAs, whether on a giving or taking post, are generating the most traffic to your site. By setting this up in Google Sheets, you can connect to Grow and clearly visualize which post types are performing best.
Grow social media KPI and metric - Click Through Rate (CTR) by Week

Once you have built out these metrics for each platform and have an established editorial calendar, you can start blending this data with your regular marketing metrics and KPIs to get a clear picture of what this strategy is achieving for your company—thus proving your marketing prowess to your superiors.

One last piece of advice…

Don’t ever forget to remind customers that there are real people behind that pretty logo. Especially as a startup company, you have a powerful story to tell. Every time someone purchases from you, they’re not just lining pockets and allowing someone to purchase their fifth Range Rover. Instead, they are helping a dad pay the fee for his daughter to be on the soccer team, or enabling a mom to purchase her son a new saxophone. They are helping real people reach real dreams, and they’ll want to help you if you help them, too.

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