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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

Hack the Algorithms: 17 Social Media Strategies You've Never Heard Of



"Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage."

Amy Jo Martin



Over the years, social media has become a powerful tool for individuals and businesses to connect and engage. However, with digital algorithms constantly evolving and competition growing fiercer by the day, it's essential to stay ahead of the curve. In this post I'll share some expert-level hacks, tips and tricks to help you elevate your social media game like never before.


But first, let's review why social media is still super valuable for your brand.


In a nutshell, it's because that's where you audience already is! It's where they're going every day to socialize, as well as find news, information, services and products to buy.

So the primary goal for solopreneurs and small businesses is to increase brand awareness, which can help boost trust and credibility, drive traffic, generate new leads, and increase online sales. Bonus perks? You can also build or strengthen your customer community and support.


Percentage of Traffic by Channel, according to StatCounter

Facebook: 45.5%
Pinterest: 21.08%
Instagram: 14.14%
Twitter: 10.95%
Reddit: 3.4%
YouTube: 2.8%


Understanding the Algorithms

Contrary to popular belief, opinion, there isn’t one algorithm per channel.


For Instagram there are actually five different algorithms, one for each type of content.


  • The General Algorithm is like the CEO of all the other algorithms, reads signals from all of your content as a whole.

  • The Post Algorithm: This algorithm is in charge of how well your carousel and single image post performs and is important for bringing in more followers to your account.

  • The Reel Algorithm: This algorithm is the most competitive and hard to crack but once you do it’s excellent for instantly boosting your reach and gaining more followers.

  • The Story Algorithm is Instagram's most unpredictable algorithm. All you require to nurture this algorithm is to ensure people are replying to your stories. While stories usually won't get you many new followers, it will help you build an engaged audience and community.

  • The Live Algorithm is a great signal to the general algorithm of how loyal and engaged your current followers are. This one is about building a community and allowing people to see the humans behind the screen!


It's about a domino effect: More reach and shares from Reels --> more followers and saves from posts --> more interactions from your Stories and Live --> better rankings and value perceived from the general algorithm overall.


So as you might imagine in order to grow your social channels, you need to take advantage of ALL the content types consistently. This is much asier said than done, of course, especially for solopreneurs.


The Foundations

In order to have a strong social presence, you'll need to first figure out which channels to focus on. These channels are going to be the ones where you audience spends the most time depending on their core demographics and interests. Not sure where to start? Considering "niching down" to a very specific ideal customer, and then expand to other topics later on once you’ve built a loyal following.


Next, you'll need to take time to set up and optimize your profiles on these channels - they're your 24/7 storefront after all. This means

  • making sure your page and privacy settings are as public as possible

  • setting your content topics, visibility and quality preferences according to your industry/niche.

  • crafting an SEO-focused page name, keyword-rich bio, and pinning the most relevant and important content highlights.


Hot: tip, make sure to login to your Settings on desktop, as some optimizations are not available via mobile. The most important step is to make sure to check “show account suggestions on profiles.”


Before you dive in to establish a regular presence you'll probably want to complete a competitor analysis to find any gaps and opportunities in the market. From there you;ll be able to create a powerful content strategy and calendar.


Your #1 goal to hack the algorithms is to get people to spend as much time as possible on your posts. This tells the channel that people like your content and thus it will help push it out to a wider audience. The section below is full of sure-fire ways to do this and increase your reach!


Lastly, in order to really make an impact you'll need to make sure to track and measure your performance, and adjust your strategies as needed. Analyze your insights and focus on these key metrics to understand whether your content is landing and resonating:

  • follows per post

  • non follower reach

  • explore page reach

Finally, if you've done all of this and still find that you need an extra boost? Then it may be time to look into paid ads and promotions.


"Content is fire, social media is gasoline."

Jay Baer


Top Tips & Tricks for Social Media

If you really want to start growing your followers then you need your content to reach new people, which means manipulating the algorithm in your favor. The goal is to get your content to appear as 'suggested posts' in non-followers feed and under the Explore page.


Go Big

Size does matter when it comes to social. This means whenever possible you want to share posts that are vertical (not square) so that you take up as much valuable real estate as possible on their screen.


The Follower/Following Ratio

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, maintaining a balanced follower/following ratio of at least 1:1 or higher is generally considered favorable. However, the level of engagement and relevance your followers provide is far more important than the exact numerical ratio. It's about Quality over Quantity.


Make It Clickworthy

Craft compelling captions that capture attention, evoke emotion, and encourage action. A one-line hook can capture your audience's attention from the start, followed by storytelling, humor, or intrigue. Always strive to be authentic, relatable, and conversational in your tone. Experiment with different caption lengths and styles to see what resonates best with your audience.


Harness the power of hashtags to increase your visibility and reach a broader audience. Yes, they're still effective even in 2024! Research trending hashtags in your niche and your location, and incorporate them strategically into your post captions AND comments. Aim for a mix of up to 30 popular and niche-specific hashtags to maximize your reach. The more, the better, as long as they're relevant. Avoid overly popular or viral hashtags, as those can actually hurt your posts performance.


According to Instagram, apparently the sweet spot is 3-8 hashtags in your post caption (not the first comment).


In more recent years, SEO has also become more popular. So make sure to you valuale keywords in your posts, sans #.


"The first rule of social media is that everything changes all the time. What won’t change is the community’s desire to network."

Kami Huyse


Break It Up

To keep your reader interested, break up lengthy captions into digestible chunks using line breaks. Use emojis, bullet points, and whitespace to enhance visual appeal and draw attention to key points.


Express Yourself

Don't be afraid to have fun in your content. Emojis enhance social content and could prompt greater audience engagement because they

  • add softness to text-heavy captions

  • adding visual appeal and interest

  • conveying emotion

  • emphasize key points

  • break up text

  • inject personality into posts - filling in when words simply don't do the photo justice


Of course, it's important to use emojis sparingly, ensure they align with the posts tone and context of the content, as well as the brand personality. Avoid overusing them to maintain professionalism and readability.


Go Big

Want to really make an impact? Consider trying a 1 month intensive per channel. Simply focus on consistent daily posting and engagement for 30 days on a single channel at a time, and watch your metrics soar.


Make It Visual

Instagram is a visual platform, so take time to Invest in the look and feel of your grid. Always prioritize professional-quality photos and eye-catching videos to stand out in the crowded social media landscape. The following Feed patterns and themes can help you create a cohesive and captivating brand page: collage, borders, rainbow, pallette, shape, filter, background, horizontal or vertical, shapes, checkerboard, video only, people only, typography, color, etc.

Ask Away

Harness the power of polls and surveys to gather valuable insights, increase engagement, and encourage interaction with your audience. Use them to solicit feedback, spark conversations, and then tailor your future content to their preferences.


Be Social

Engage with your audience consistently by responding to comments, liking and sharing posts, and participating in relevant conversations. Some say that doing this 15-30 mins before and after your daily or weekly posting can trigger the algorithm in your favor.


"Focus on how to BE social, not on how to Do social."

Jay Baer


Go Direct

While third-party apps and schedulers offer convenience, they may negatively impact your reach and engagement due to algorithm restrictions. Instead, prioritize native posting on each platform and post directly for optimal results.

Collaborate & Connect

Aim to work with with 1 or 2 other accounts per month. It's a win-win for all because you double your reach.


Listen Up

Use trending audio, especially from the suggested "sound collection" to make sure you're not breaking any usage laws.


"Engage, enlighten, encourage, and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort; everyone is an asset."

Susan Cooper


Post Frequently

If you have the resources and bandwidth to post 5x a week then you'll be fortunate enough to get vital data which will help you build a longterm strategy. Ideally this will look like at least 2 carousels (stills) and 3 reels (videos). If 3 posts is the most you can swing, that's ok too.

Be Bold

Share your opinions or get vulnerable to really stand out from the masses, and your competitors. Anyone can post tips and tricks, but not everyone can shine with authenticity.


Call It Out

Include a clear call to action prompting your audience to like, comment, share, save or subscribe driving further engagement and interaction. You can even do this in a carousel slide!


Benchmark

Make sure you take note of what kind of content appears in the Explore page of your account. Strive to emulate these accounts primarily, as they're the gold standard of how to rank.


Work Smarter, Not Harder

Save time by cross-posting across platforms like Instagram/Facebook. Find as many opportunities as possible to automate your processes.


Bulk It Up

Batch content creation involves creating multiple pieces of content in one sitting, allowing you to streamline your workflow and save time. Once the content is created, scheduling tools enable you to plan and publish all your posts in advance, ensuring consistent posting and saving your "the mental load" of daily posting.


Leave A Note

Incorporate "bonus content" into your comments to add extra value and incentivize engagement. Include a clear call to action prompting your audience to like, comment, share, or take the desired action, driving further engagement and interaction.


Bonus: Don't forget to also Save & Like your own posts to activate algorithm further!


Write Your Own Rules

If you really don't want to do any of this then simply... DON'T! If you feel pressured or forced to post or be creative then none of your marketing efforts will be sustainable. Social media is not for everyone. Be your authentic self and your ideal clients and customers will find you and connect in their own unique way.


"If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business."

Bill Gates


Wrapping It Up

There's no way around it: Social Media is here to stay.


A well-crafted social strategy is essential for maximizing your visibility and reach and connecting with your customer and clients. By understanding how the algorithms work, experimenting with different types of content, and leveraging analytics to inform your strategy, you can effectively grow your digital presence and boost your brand awareness.


The key is to be authentic and stay consistent, above all.


Ready to take your social media strategy to the next level? I'd love to help point you in the right direction. Reach out today for a chat!


 



Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.


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