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Attacking the algorithms and finding your followers

Tom Bourne, is creative director of Select First, a long-standing media agency specialising in the flooring sector. Looking after traditional PR and advertising, as well as digital outreach and social media for companies in the industry; he has first-hand experience of the nuances of sector.

For those in the flooring industry looking to raise their game on social media, algorithms are king. They control who sees your content and when they see it. 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 you’re uploading; the list is pretty long, always hidden, and often changing. So, what can you do to combat the algorithms 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 and reels into your posts, the better off you’ll be.

Something as simple as a walk-through 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.

New platforms
Use the new features of platforms as much as possible, particularly when it’s big changes. A prime example of this is Reels on Instagram and Facebook Stories that are aimed at combatting the growth of TikTok in the youth market. Stories provide an opportunity to include and promote user generated content alongside your own images. This may involve encouraging customers to get on board with tagging your products, but it’s a great way of highlighting credibility, and seems to be ticking boxes with current algorithms.

Cross-platform sharing
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 cross-platform ‘share to’ functionality built-in to apps – think Meta here – you’re likely to record a better hit-rate, particularly as that double dipping also means you’re posting more regularly on the platforms.

Be social
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), 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 or even to find 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. There’s always a debate on the amount of hashtags to use, but for new starters it’s recommended that you use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram and around three to five on Facebook. Don’t forget to follow hashtags so that you keep up to date with key trends and conversations.

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.
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