Recent Blasphemy

Algorithm Blues: A Social Media Rant

“Anonymity is the least you can do.”

Social Media is a poison that we all willingly ingest, and I hope you partake of your fair share as I post this article anywhere and everywhere I can.

In a brief text exchange with a friend last night I admitted my disdain of social media, while also sheepishly admitting how much time I spend on it. I’ve copped to this hypocrisy before. On one of my podcasts it’s been a theme to vent about social media, usually during the announcement of yet another account opening up. To paraphrase what I said on one podcast episode, it’s hard to turn your back on social media (Facebook was used in this example) because…

…”YOU’RE ALL ON THERE!”

For someone who produces content, unless you actually want to operate in a vacuum (and I’m supremely jealous of you, if that’s so), you need to post your output where people will see it. This is no mysterious equation to follow, and it requires no degree of intelligence or marketing savvy. Unfortunately, and where your guile comes in handy, the real work is in the next step(s)…manipulating the various “algorithms” so that the social media sites actually ALLOW your content to be seen. Facebook, like in many other areas, is the absolute worst for this. Since it remains the most popular platform traffic-wise, I excoriate them here.

Here’s a recent example. This past weekend, I launched a second music podcast on Radio Free Satan, called HELLABALOO! From my experience with my other podcast, and various personal music projects, I have a set procedure for promoting posts on Facebook. Bear in mind, this is my modus operandi that doesn’t involve spending money on advertising. I am not opposed to paying for advertising when I feel the situation requires it, but I admit to succumbing to cynicism when it comes to giving Facebook my hard earned coin going forward. I digress, but will return to that point later in this post.

To explain my approach as simply as I can, for my podcasts, I do two main public posts in total. I post the website link to the latest episode on Facebook to both the show page, and the Radio Free Satan network page. Then, I take the post from the network page and like and share the living hell out of it using both my personal account and the various other pages I admin. This is very simple to do, although slightly spammy, but there is a method behind this. The Facebook algorithm REQUIRES you to “like and share” posts as much as you can, or people will just NOT see it in their news feeds. Yes, we all know that business pages have the “follow” button, along with the option of prioritizing a page’s posts in your news feed. I’m not going to call it total hokum, but it’s bordering on that. Facebook will still limit your news feed presence unless your post is shown to be “popular”.  Switching your news feed from “Top Stories” to “Most Recent” also seems to be pointless, as Most Recent will still filter out content that you may want to see. It is supremely important that you get engagement from “likes and shares”, and comments, for your post by any means necessary.

Let me digress again and say, yes, it’s incumbent on your post and content to be WORTH liking and sharing in the first place. Responsibility for the quality of the content is solely on the producer of said content. Tastes are subjective, and it’s entirely possible that people just don’t like what you’re putting out there. All artists, writers, and musicians need to evaluate themselves and their output honestly. That topic can be covered separately, and we’ll keep this article to focusing on how to overcome the actual external roadblocks content producers face when posting on social media.

To return to HELLABALOO!, here’s a picture to show what I’m getting at.

SM-1

“1 person reached”. That’s two days after the show was posted. Now to be fully transparent here, the page itself is brand new and currently has just 30 “likes”. Still, 1 person reached out of 30 is pretty weak, and that’s even after I did some minor algorithm manipulation. I’ve seen this trend with the Furious Sound page as well, so I focus most of my attention on promoting the Radio Free Satan version of the post as it seems to have a greater impact in exposure, for both my post and the network as a whole.

To show a further example of the current inanity of Facebook posting, here is a picture of the Furious Sound post with the furthest reach. I didn’t pay to boost this post, nor did I even shoot the video shown. It’s just a YouTube link I shared. To add to the fun, the Furious Sound page itself only has 130 “likes” total.

SM-2

The post itself received one “like”.

So, is Facebook’s algorithm random, or highly advanced? It’s hard to say, and hard to say if it matters from your standpoint. The point being that, regardless of what it is, it’s working against you unless you pay to boost your posts, or do everything you can to get attention. Facebook may be “free” to join, but for content providers there will come a time when you will probably need to drop some coins in their cup. I have done so, grudgingly, in the past when needed, and will probably do so again.

Of course this updated algorithm has had a profound impact, negatively, on The Devil’s Lair page. It was reported recently that the algorithm was being further adjusted detrimentally for business pages. (A similar story that Facebook would also “limit friend posts to 26 people” was exposed as bunk.) I can say with absolute certainty that the once strong reach of TDL on Facebook has dwindled over the last two months. As an experiment, I’ve been running this poll on the TDL page for the last week…

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So, out of 2500 page likes, it garnered 55 views, zero likes or shares, and 8 votes total. (I was the 8th vote.) This is standard engagement for the majority of posts at TDL now, whether it’s one of our own blog posts, photos, or even when we link to interesting stories from the CoS news feed, it gets similar results. I did find it curious that Facebook turned off the Boost for this post, probably because it’s a poll, but as you can see, “Promote” buttons are never far away. I should also note, that with virtually every post I’ve made in the last two months, I get a notification from Facebook asking me to boost it. Usually with a “$10 dollar credit” attached. Again, Facebook is a business so their intentions with these notifications are clear, even if they don’t specify clearly which post they mean. (Click-bait.)

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As far as the other main social platforms, the results are similar. “Organic” engagement is devalued. I enjoy Twitter, but I won’t advertise there as I don’t feel it would have the same impact as Facebook. Instagram, although tied to Facebook, seems to be a pointless endeavor unless you prefer their format, and their “news feed” is a random mess in my opinion. Facebook ads usually cover both sites. YouTube is, also in my opinion, becoming perhaps the most disappointing site of them all based on recent behaviour. They have demonetized most small accounts, and some larger ones as well, for seemingly random reasons along with impacting visibility of the videos. I had opened up a TDL YouTube page with the intent of posting videos, and to host a possible podcast in the future. I recently received an email from YouTube that the account would be demonetized within 30 days, and my terms under their Partner Program would be terminated. This was slightly humorous, as I’ve never made a dime on any of my YouTube channels, but at the same time it was a frustrating reminder about how little control one has over these pages, and possibly your very own content. (I’ve had videos with MY OWN MUSIC flagged for copyright by YouTube.) So, I decided to be proactive and flat-out deleted the Devil’s Lair YouTube channel. Should the day arrive that I need to explore that avenue again, I will. However, I admit to hoping there’s a new alternative for videos by that time.

Bottom line, or the “TL:DR” version, Share and Like the HELL out of your own Facebook posts. Shares and comments are most important, and “Loves” outweigh “Likes”. If there is a page you want to support, give the content creator a boost once in awhile by engaging with them. It will have an impact.

For content providers, like myself, it should go without saying to simply continue to enjoy what you do for your own selfish reasons. The “likes” may follow naturally, but don’t ever neglect using your wits and guile to give yourself as good a chance to succeed as possible. Always learn and understand the platforms you use, along with all their quirks and foibles, to the best of your abilities.

Anonymity is the least you can do.

HS!

-M

 

 

 

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