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‘Beating the Algorithm’ How businesses can learn from the world’s most successful YouTuber, by not trying to!

28th March 2024

Algorithms are everywhere.

They decide what we see online, they dictate what search engines show us and the content we receive.

They’ve certainly changed the way the world does business and if you’ve spent any period of time online, you’re likely to have seen the term ‘beat the algorithm’ get thrown around. There is a notion, particularly in content terms, that beating the algorithm is what you need to do to get seen.

But how much of this sentiment is actually true?

Exactly what is ‘the algorithm’

It’s a somewhat ominous term. The notion of a central intelligence pushing Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok feeds. A machine that decides what Mob recipe you’ll see on Instagram this evening, what witty social media meme LinkedIn will feed you on your lunchtime scroll.

It’s not quite Skynet. But it is a set of rules and parameters to decide on the following:

1) What content to show to each individual user in their feed

2) How to rank and order that content in the feed

3) When to display that content to the user

Now ‘the algorithm’ looks at a lot of different factors and variables when making these decisions. It looks at users previous interactions, the types of content you’ve been engaging with, post time, engagement signals and the ‘perceived quality’ of the content itself.

So it’s doing quite a lot before it serves you your content.

The goal of the algorithm is to keep each user engaged and satisfied by showing them more of what they want to see… in theory.

But we all use social media and we all know that theory and practice are two very different things. This is why content creators cannot simply rely on techniques that “beat the algorithm” in any particular moment… it’s a mercurial, constantly shifting beast.

 

Lessons from a 25-year old Youtuber

Speaking of beasts…. Mr Beast aka Jimmy Donaldson. It might be a name that you’ve heard.

If you haven’t MrBeast is the world’s most successful YouTuber. Over 116,000,000 subscribers and a net worth of around £500million. It’s safe to say he is making the most out of content creation.

Some might say MrBeast is ‘beating the algorithm’ but is he really?

Search for MrBeast and what you’ll find alongside his insanely well-performing content, is adjacent content titled something along the lines of “We’ve stolen the secret to MrBeast content.”

The irony is, that these videos don’t have anywhere near the levels of reach and engagement that MrBeast does. Despite them claiming to have unlocked the cheat codes to the internet and here’s how you can be the next YouTube multi-millionaire.

If it worked, why isn’t everyone doing it?

To actually game the system and ‘beat the algorithm’ would require you to do nothing other than live in the trends section of every social channel, 24 hours a day, reacting and making content totally on the fly.

Now Jimmy Donaldson has the capacity and the resources to do this. But he’s also spent years honing his craft and getting himself into the position he is now. What Jimmy does, isn’t hacking or beating the algorithm, he makes content that he knows people are going to watch.

Jimmy didn’t ‘beat the algorithm’ Jimmy spent years studying virality and learning what content his audiences liked to consume. He put in the hard yards and now it’s paying off.

And that’s the real crux of the algorithm argument… you can’t cheat a content strategy.

Building consistency over time

Successful content is a skill that is built over years… it simply does not happen overnight.

Of course, you may find the odd piece outperforms or maybe even goes viral – which might happen once in a blue moon.  But to build any level of consistency will take time… and patience.

So rather than put your focus into ‘overcoming the algorithm’ focus instead on what your audiences want to see and hear. Play the algorithm and you might have a bigger audience, but is it the right audience?

Build it and they will come, right?

Focus on posting quality, relevant content!

By focusing on creating engaging content that is relevant and valuable to your audience, you will put yourself in the best possible position to build a loyal following.

By using data analytics and algorithmic information, you can make conscious decisions as to what formats and types of content are performing best at any given time. Leveraging data can help you create more effective content.

All roads lead back to making the kinds of content that your audiences want…

Be entertaining

People don’t want to watch boring content. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

They’re too time-poor and bombarded with content from every possible angle. Your content might have the best call to action, but if it’s too dull or not engaging from the outset, the viewers are never going to make it to the stuff you really want them to see.

Engage

Don’t be a monolith, engage with your audience.

Don’t disable the comments and don’t leave clear questions and engagements unanswered.

Content strategy is much about creating a community than it is actually creating the content itself. Engaging with your audiences will heighten the likelihood of them remaining engaged with you moving forward.

This is probably one of the few areas where the notion of ‘gaming the algorithm’ is actually applicable. Replying to comments and creating engagements in the chat will actually boost your ratings in the algorithm. If it sees comments, it thinks ‘people like this, I’m going to show it to some more people.’

You might be able to ride the crest of a wave now and then. Jump on a trend, see a spike in engagement. You might, if you’re really lucky, go viral.

But these are temporary. They’re fleeting moments,

Ultimately there is no hack, there are no algorithmic cheats. There is no quick fix. You just have to put in the hard yards.

 

Navigating a new content strategy can be a daunting task and getting an experienced agency on board can help guide you to create a new content plan that will see success for your brand, so get in touch now

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About AMBITIOUS

AMBITIOUS by name and by nature, we are a PR led communications agency that delivers integrated strategic communications - online, offline and everywhere in-between. Proud to be crowned winners of The Drum Magazine's RAR Best PR Agency of the Year.

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