The Social Media Fallout
Have you ever put a lot of effort into a Twitter or Instagram post, on a topical subject, only for it to be completely ignored? Or posted a YouTube video that you put your heart and soul into filming and editing… but it gets, maybe, 50 views? If you have, you have fallen victim to the dreaded “Algorithm”.
“The Algorithm” is a simple word for a complex system of automated processes that social media sites use to decide who, and what is seen by the masses. Your YouTube video might be amazing, but may be all but hidden by the site because it mentions something about religion, sexuality, civil rights, or politics (although conservative views don’t tend to be shut down as swiftly and voluminously as progressive views). Your tweet, or reply to a tweet, may be hidden under several layers of “See More” because you’ve used words that the little blue bird doesn’t like.
Now, these rules don’t tend to apply to everyone. Celebrities, influencers, and especially politicians will almost never have their tweets or videos hidden. But an upstart company, or growing online personality? Post that tweet, and watch as the likes and retweets... don’t roll in.
This is making it incredibly difficult for new companies and personalities to find a foothold in social media. How can you get discovered by potential fans and customers, if the platform itself is working against you?
Well, social media platforms have a solution for you. Paid ads! That’s right. If you’re new to the social media game and don’t already have a following, you can pay Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to lift their restrictions, and let people see that you actually exist. This sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it’s actually been stated as the intent on stockholder calls for both Google and Twitter.
But there must be a way of getting discovered online without forking over your whole marketing budget to Facebook, Google, and Twitter…right? Of course. But it does take a bit more work. One very effective way of getting discovered online is to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Making a connection with a social media personality that already has a following. They talk about you or your brand, and suddenly their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers know who you are, and what your product is.
Sponsoring content via blogs, YouTube Videos, Twitch streams, and Podcasts is another great way to spread the word in a more organic way. These types of deals usually end in the social media personality getting a certain percentage of each sale made. So they don’t get paid unless you get paid. A much better arrangement than paying Google and Facebook for ads whether you make a sale or not.
“The Algorithm” is, slowly but surely, hurting social media sites. Content creators across the board are jumping ship from the monetization model created by The Big Three (Twitter, Facebook, Google), in favor of more unconventional models. Popular producers on YouTube, who once relied on the site’s monetization algorithm, have seen their monthly income drop drastically as YouTube/Google changed their Algorithm and made certain videos harder to find, and harder to monetize. So these creators have moved to Patreon and Twitch. As a way to fight back against the ever-changing algorithm, they’ve begun not allowing YouTube/Google to monetize their videos at all. Adding copyrighted content from different sources so that multiple ownership claims will be placed on the videos, making it impossible for any payment to be processed. The same has been seen with Twitter stars who leave the little blue bird in favor of Instagram, where it’s much easier to build up a following because the app isn’t actively hiding your content.
As creators flee from the established social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, so too should growing businesses and brands. It’s good to have a presence on the oldies, of course, but it might be better to focus on platforms where it’s easier to be discovered by people who aren’t already looking for you. Retail businesses should start directing more attention to Instagram, where it’s easier to be discovered, and photos of your product are front and center. Another great way to gain a following is to stream live videos on Twitch and Instagram Live. Where you can interact with your followers directly, and show them parts of your business they may never see otherwise. It helps create a connection with your customers that overly produced Twitter and Facebook posts never could.
Now is the perfect time to look into some alternatives to the established social media models. We’re on the cusp of another massive change in the way brands advertise online, so don’t let your company fall behind.