Are Influencers Too Good?

The algorithm. We’ve all heard it referenced in one way or another. The word algorithm has been used a lot on social media whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Being able to be found by a potential audience is alpha and omega on social media, and the algorithm has a lot to do with how all of this works. In this piece, we’ll focus on what the algorithm actually is, how social media platforms are tweaking it constantly, and why influencers are obsessed with ‘gaming the algorithm’.

Facebook has 2.4 billion users. If you add Instagrams (which Facebook owns) user number of one billion. Facebook has a user base of over 3 billion people

What is the algorithm?
No matter if you’re on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or any other social media platform. The content, that is shown to you, is dictated by an algorithm in one form or another. The way that all social media platforms work are that you as a consumer is presented to content that the platform thinks that you’d like. Whether it’s driven by likes, comments, or something else entirely, an algorithm figures out what content is popular, but also what content that you specifically would like to see.

Let’s take YouTube as an example. The reason, YouTube is interesting, is because they’re known for tweaking their algorithm rarely but in huge bumps at a time. Unlike Instagram, who regularly and often tweaks their algorithm little by little, YouTube makes major changes in biannual or annual updates.

Whenever you go to visit YouTube, you’ll be presented with 6-10 recommended videos. These videos are picked out by the YouTube algorithm and are picked from a mix of factors, such as your personal taste, what’s trending, the tone of the video, etc.

The reason this is important is that everyone uploading content to YouTube lives off of views, and the best way to gain views is to be found by viewers who were recommended to you.

More on that later.

How platforms tweak their algorithm 
As one of – if not the biggest industry in the world – social media, has become big business ever since MySpace was sold for close to $600m. back in 2005. The fight for users’ attention has never been tougher than it is right now. That’s why Facebook and Google are so interested in making sure that you have a good experience every time you visit one of their platforms.

Their way of making sure that their platforms feel fresh and new every time you visit them is – put a little simple – by tweaking their algorithm. If you end up seeing the content from the same few influencers, you might feel as if the platform doesn’t offer you enough diverse substance. And that’s how platforms tweak their algorithm constantly to make sure that the content user’ are engaging with is as diverse as possible. 

However, both Facebook and Google are now experiencing content creators who are becoming too good at utilizing the algorithm to their advantage. Influencers’ who stay at the top of the feed no matter how platforms make their demands.

On Wired, Emma Grey Ellis described it this way

“It isn’t just Google framing people who use SEO-boosting practices as deviant or “schemers,” either. Media coverage of influencers using SEO strategy or comment automation tends to describe them as “offenders,” and their techniques as tricks or scams, prompting “crackdown” and “punishment” from platforms.”

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Gaming the platform
Especially in the last couple of months, a new term has blossomed – gaming the platform.

Content creators use this term as a way of describing how they make sure that their content stays popular among both service providers and their core audience. Influencers have become specialists in SEO, SoMe optimization, and click-bait… And the platforms hate this, calling people who use these shortcuts, schemers or deviants. 

As with almost everything, it started out relatively innocently with YouTubers figuring out that their content was watched by more people if their content had a colourful and exciting thumbnail. Next came the fact that YouTubers got paid more by Google if their videos were longer than 10 minutes. And it didn’t end there. Today influencers have an arrangement of tools in their arsenal which helps them make sure that a lot of people are exposed to their content.

This makes it a lot harder for new content creators to enter the stage since they’re not in the known of which tools to use. Furthermore, Facebook and Google are getting tired of these influencers since the content ends up suffering in quality due to shortcuts putting videos in the top of the feed – instead of quality. And if the quality starts dropping from content viewers will leave in the long run.

All of this leaves one very important question… Are influencers becoming too good at their own game?

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