The Algorithm and Your Small Business: How to Make Them Work Together

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It’s astounding to think that the MySpace, Friendster, and Multiply eras were more than a decade ago now. Back then, social media was much simpler yet diverse, and frankly, more enjoyable. They existed for the primary purpose of communicating with our friends. It let us upload photos without thinking of likes and comments.

But businesses during those times didn’t use social media yet. They only began to market in social networking sites when Facebook rose to fame and dethroned the old-school social networking sites we’ve come to love in the early 2000s. So from the perspective of a business owner, social media today is probably more beneficial than many years ago. With their own Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts, they can reach out to a wider audience, and increase brand awareness way easier than how brands did before social media existed.

However, because of our increasing dependence on social media, it is starting to become bigger than us. How? By using algorithms to control what we can see on our feeds.

How Algorithm Affects Businesses

By definition, an algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem. A computer program is considered an algorithm since a computer program solves certain problems by creating specific computer functions. In mathematics and computer science, it’s also an algorithm that solves a recurrent problem.

Today, we mostly see algorithms as the tool that decides what online content is relevant or not. In other words, what we in our screens. If you visit your Instagram feed right now, chances are you won’t see your closest friends’ posts right away. Instead, you’ll come across sponsored posts from brands you use and those similar to them. You’ll also see an influencer’s post garnering more likes by the second. During the MySpace era, such wasn’t possible. Your feed only consists of the updates your friends have posted.

The algorithm today affects businesses in good and bad ways. On the positive side, it lets you encourage your customers to make a repeat purchase because once an internet user orders products from a particular website, the ads and social media posts of that website will keep reappearing on their feeds. That’s because the algorithm stores our data, which are the actions we perform online. In fact, just visiting an online store already triggers the algorithm to show you its ads and other content on other sites.

On the negative side, the algorithm works quickly, if you aren’t fast enough in your robust digital marketing strategies, you’ll fall behind, and your competitors will beat you in manipulating the algorithm. Their posts will be more visible on your customers’ feeds and search engines. If they’re lucky, they can entice a purchase from them, too.

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The Keys to Controlling the Algorithm

Fortunately, you’re not at all helpless against the algorithm. If other brands can beat it, then so can you.

If you have a dedicated website, make it share cookies with its visitors. Cookies are the small pieces of data that track an internet user across websites. If you use cookies on your site, you can tailor its content based on a user’s interest or previous activity.

For instance, if they ordered a disinfectant spray the last time they visited your site, other disinfectant products can show up on the “recommended” section of the website. If they bought a cleaning product this time, then you can recommend them cleaning tools next. You’re basically predicting your customers’ next purchasing decisions based on what they buy at present.

Regularly update your website’s content as well. Post informative blogs, use high-quality product photos and ensure that the web design meets the current trend, and is user-friendly. These strategies will improve your ranking on search engine results pages. Google prefers regularly updated websites with quality content, so pass this standard.

Controlling Facebook Algorithm

Facebook deserves its own section here because 89% of marketers prefer this platform, and so do 69% of consumers. Hence, if your audience is on Facebook, you have to beat its algorithm.

Facebook decides what to show on a feed based on three categories: who the users typically interact with, the type of content the users engage with, and the popularity of a post. Since engagement and popularity are there, your posts have to attract those to make the algorithm favor you.

Post content at the right time, and regularly. If you’re a B2C business, the best times to post are at 9 AM — 10 AM, 12 PM — 1 PM, and 4 PM — 5 PM. Basically, the times when people are off work. If you post on those times, people are more likely to see it and engage. Not to mention be encouraged to buy.

And that’s the easiest way to control the algorithm. Pop up on people’s feeds when they’re particularly immersed. If you have a special promo coming up, then it’s even more crucial to post at the right times. When your customers see the word “sale” on your posts, at the right time at that, they’d race to your website and add stuff to their carts.

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