The Next Big Thing in Reach: Social Media Algorithms
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
A typical human being’s lifestyle begins and ends with social media. Out of the 7.9 billion global population, 3.96 billion are actively using social media platforms. That’s a whopping 50%. Any place with such a large mass of population requires order. Algorithms do exactly that.
Social media algorithms are ever-evolving like technology. This volatile nature has made it hard for the marketing agencies to keep up with the changes because the same algorithm dictates their rank on popularity charts and decides the quality of their content. Let us dive into why and how social media algorithms have altered the way we consume content.
While social media has changed the way we consume content, algorithms have optimized content consumption. To be precise, algorithms filter our thoughts, interests, and association with the content to decide what kind of content we get to see and consume over our entire duration of online stay. To understand how algorithms can disrupt the marketing models and be the next big thing, one needs to know how they work.
How do social media algorithms work?
Algorithms are both crystal clear and vague at the same time. The main objective of algorithms is to show relevant and personalized content by ranking and parsing data based on specific criteria.
To an average marketer, all this may seem obscure. But the networks are transparent about their ranking process to cut the clutter. That brings us to the question “How are algorithms the next big thing?”
Well, there is no one straightforward answer but multiple ones to answer your question. Social commerce strategies target ‘digital behavior’ and ‘content consumption style' to tweak the algorithms and rank higher. As long as the algorithms keep on changing, businesses try to decode them. And, as long as social media platforms house marketable consumers, algorithms continue to rule the digital marketing space.
Algorithms are here to stay
Be it for businesses or individual content creators, driving organic traffic is merely a matter of time with adequate knowledge about the mechanisms. With the increasing digital population and digital literacy, awareness about algorithms is going to increase. Hence, whether you love them or hate them, algorithms are here to stay, not just for the benefit of businesses but for the comfort of both content creators and consumers.
Affordable marketing and minimizing the expenditure
Social media platforms are indisputably one of the cheapest mediums for marketing. With minimum time commitment, an ideal digital strategy, and a tinge of creativity, you can tweak the algorithms to produce higher revenues with just a minimum to negligible budget. Considering the massive population concentrated on social media platforms, it has grown into a potential tool for marketing and targeting the modern masses.
Content optimization and targeting users
Algorithms optimize everything and anything to simplify things, clear the chaos, and make content relevant and customized to make your online experience a delightful one. Hence, although businesses and creators tap into the potential of paid ad slots, algorithms will make them go head over heels as it is the sole thing that ranks and customizes the content.
Digital presence of businesses
Businesses are already getting impacted with social media presence gaining more prominence over organic reach. The trend is pretty visible. You get to see an ad after every three posts on Instagram. The same is the case with Facebook.
But if you ask me whether paying is the only option, not necessarily. You either have to pay to reach the surfaces or create relatable and quality content.
Let me give you a few examples. Bluelearn, a new ed-tech startup with limited funding, has garnered the attention of over 4500+ followers and attracted 40,000+ students in just a month.
A media and news company, “Mad over Marketing,” has achieved a massive one million followers with no aggressive marketing or draining their funds on social media advertisements.
The tremendous success within a limited time frame has been made possible with the power of algorithms. Both the businesses from two different fields realized and tapped into the enormous potential of algorithms. Digital growth involves appealing to the target audience with clever use of data and marketing expertise.
In the future, businesses no longer approach their masses like they are doing now. Algorithms do that for them. In that sense, algorithms will become the best assistants of both the content producers and consumers. By providing relevant and powerful insights to the businesses and showing only relevant content for consumers and customers, the day is not far away to see algorithms as 'digital business managers.'
The trend of paid ads is already creeping into all online platforms. If it continues at the same pace, the algorithm will be the only metric that matters in the digital marketing world.How are you and your business going to respond to these intelligent changes? Do you follow them or swim against the stream? Well, in that case, the existence of your business boils down to a ‘prosper or perish’ situation.
If you are still not convinced, IDC’s Worldwide Big Data and Analytics 2016 predicts that the value of the future business lies in the algorithms. The study assessed that organizations with data-backed insights garner an additional $430 billion compared to those companies that do not equip data-backed decision-making processes.
Data-driven decision making
What is data in the virtual social space? I mean, without algorithms, data is just facts and figures having no specific purpose. Algorithms have necessitated businesses to know their audience and feed them customized content. They have revolutionized the marketing field and altered how marketers ideate to resonate well with the audience.
Modern-day consumers are no more buying the conventional marketing strategies that enlist the pros of buying their product or service. They feel connected with the content that resonates and relates. But, how do marketers know the consumer interests, who are on the other side of the screen? That is where the algorithms jump into the game. Besides optimizing the content, algorithms provide insights into consumer behavior.
The demographics and actions taken can be well analyzed and utilized by companies, creators, and businesses, to create more similar content. That is how algorithmic data is influencing the decision-making processes of even big companies. It is just the beginning. The potential is bound to reach higher places with the clever AI.
Algorithms are already influencing a great deal of our life. Human cognition has been influenced by the content they consume. Customized content allows the users to see only one side of the coin, while the algorithms hide different perspectives from consumers. Most of the users are forming biased opinions and gaining half-knowledge solely because of this reason.
Social media has accommodated every aspect of human life as information dissemination, knowledge consumption, and general awareness. But the one-sided stories and narrow points of view may create an imbalance in the future, which is already quite visible.
Who we talk to, what place we visit, what we buy, who we marry, and what field we choose are all influenced by the content, opinions, thoughts, and information consumed. But, the beneficial part is that we have more affordable access to information than we had a decade ago.
Had it not been for the algorithms, our feeds would have been a circus of irrelevant content. The joy and comfort of seeing what you like are just because of algorithms. The optimization scene continues to evolve till eternity to enhance the user experience.
As long as the content is optimized, we choose to live the life, visit the place, eat the food, and connect with the people social media recommends. It has its own set of pros and cons. But, remember, the quality of life you are leading now is made possible because of the same optimization and the constant urge of algorithms to improve your experience. The same algorithm may indeed influence your lifestyle. Only time can reveal.
These niche-specific creators, Shethepeopletv, thesignaldotco, and humansofcinema, are perfect examples to showcase the power of quality content. No paid ads can bring the traffic that algorithms can. You have to feed the right content to it that satisfies the artificial intelligence.
The relevance of ads on social media has gained tremendous prominence as more and more people spend their time in the virtual world. Yes, ads aired on televisions and billboards are still a thing. Yet, these methods are least successful in evaluating the marketable demographics, actions taken by the consumers, and demographics to create tailored content. Because we do not have offline algorithms. Even if they are present, it is a tedious and less efficient tactic.
The day is not near where the whole marketing shifts to digital space with the increasing digital population. We, as humans, are spending more time online than in the real world. Then, it is fair enough for businesses and marketers to focus on digital space too. I mean, companies go where the customers are there. The modern lifestyle is dependent on the digital world. The relationship is bound to grow. The marketing expenditure is a waste if it cannot generate revenue. Spending on digital marketing expertise yields higher ROI as a majority of the marketable population is concentrated on virtual spaces.
With that being said, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are continuously working on improvements and updates in their algorithms to make virtual places more user-centric. If AI continues with the same rage, the digital space will evolve into an alternate world for marketers and consumers.
The social media giants like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are currently the sovereign rulers of this field. But, with the advent of newer virtual spaces like Clubhouse, Twitter spaces, and more interactive places like Discord, the crowd may shift to these platforms. If that happens, the surface is going to get bigger with diverse demographics concentrated on different platforms. That may necessitate a shift in the functionality of the algorithms to capture the user interest and moderate the content consumption. That is a big leap for businesses to collect data from different platforms and algorithms that provide diverse insights. All this is just an added advantage to companies and marketers.
The digital space is all about consumers and producers. As long as the relationship is between these two stakeholders, algorithms retain their top position on all social media platforms. And, as long as that continues, social media algorithms continue to thrive and not just survive.