In which Sarah compares the algorithm to a washing machine

Does the word ‘algorithm’ fill you with dread? Does it make you go all hot and cold and bring you out in a spin? 

To be honest, when I started in this social media game, I hated the word. I avoided it as much as possible thinking it was something only really techy folk worried about. It wasn’t long before I realised that the algorithm isn’t complicated at all. It’s just a computer programme which affects how posts appear in other people’s feeds. 

I don’t have to write an algorithm, I don’t have to look at one, all I have to do is understand what it does then I can make it work for me. Do you know how a washing machine works? I mean the workings, how the spin speed is determined or how it knows when to put the detergent in?

Me neither – but I do know that if I put wool clothes in a 60 degree wash, they’ll come out the right size for my gecko, or that if I put too many clothes in one wash they won’t get washed properly, or that if I leave my washing machine door closed for a long period of time, I get a waft of something pretty unpleasant when I open it, (is there a name for that smell as it is horrible?). 

If you think about the algorithm like a washing machine, you’ll could get better results here on LinkedIn. So, if the algorithm is a pre-written computer programme, how do we get it to work to our advantage?

Here are a few tips to help you – and I promise you they’re easy to follow and to do.

1) Write content that is relevant to your industry

If you’re a florist, for example, don’t suddenly write a post about your thoughts on Brexit. The algorithm ‘sweeps’ posts for key words and if it finds a load of ‘unusual’ words in your feed (i.e. words which don’t normally appear in your feed), it won’t promote the post.  

It’s a bit like putting that black sock in with your hot whites – it’ll ruin the whole wash.

2) Use keywords

If that algorithm is reading your posts, it’s on the lookout for keywords. Use them (but don’t mess up your copy, keep them in context.) Keep your whites with your whites and you’ll be cushty.

3) Write good quality content

Poor content will be spotted by the algorithm and won’t get pushed into other user’s feeds. If you use a low quality detergent, your clothes won’t be as clean as if you use a better one!   

4) Be consistent

Now I know some of you save up all your washing and do it in one go when you’ve run out of clean socks. This is fairly tough on your poor machine however. Your machine prefers to be used regularly and one wash at a time. Also, if you leave your machine for ages, you risk that yeuchy smell too.

I’m afraid the algorithm doesn’t like to be ignored for long periods of time either. It prefers you to post consistently rather than ‘batch posting’ all in one go.

It’s better to post once a week, every week, than 4 times one week and then not post for 2 weeks.

5) Listen to your audience

Ok, so who doesn’t read the instructions on their washing machine and ends up using one, maybe 2 programmes all the time? If you spend time seeing what that machine has to offer, you could use different programmes for different clothes and your clothes may last longer!

If you spend time reading your audience’s post, you’ll get a better idea of what they want so you’ll know what content you should post to attract them.

6) Talk to your audience

No one likes someone who just talks and talks at them. If you spend time liking and (more importantly), commenting on other people’s posts, they’re more likely to do the same to yours. Tit for Tat I believe is the phrase.

Ok, the washing machine analogy fails me here but I think I did pretty well don’t you?

So, don’t be frightened of the algorithm, embrace it. What it wants you to do is be a pro on your social media so follow these tips and keep your reputation as clean as your washing! 

How do you do your washing? Could you drum up a different way of using your LinkedIn posting to get better results?

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