ATYPICAL

Should We Care About Algorithms?

By Sarah Malcolm
Marketers constantly scrutinize search results and news feeds to figure out how to hack their algorithms. When these automated decision-makers decide how many people see your content, the importance of understanding algorithms comes to the forefront. But how much should we cater to algorithms when designing our marketing strategy?

Marketers constantly scrutinize search results and news feeds to figure out how to hack their algorithms. When these automated decision-makers decide how many people see your content, the importance of understanding algorithms comes to the forefront. But how much should we cater to algorithms when designing our marketing strategy?

Algorithms have a job

No one person can keep pace with the millions of content pieces published every day. Algorithms act as the gatekeepers to what people see or don’t see. Their purpose is to serve people with the information matching their personal interests.

These algorithms are constantly being tweaked by their owners. Facebook alters its news feed on a weekly basis, looking at thousands of metrics to make decisions about its code. Google also regularly updates is algorithm and discusses how it search works here.

The problem with emphasizing algorithms

So should you put tons of emphasis on what the algorithm is or isn’t doing? 

The answer lies in your beliefs about digital marketing. 

My point-of-view: focus on people.

When you create a digital marketing program centered around quality, people notice. Algorithms factor in how people respond to the content they’re served. The more people click-through or engage with your marketing, the more likely the algorithm will “serve” you up. 

Don’t do it the other way around. Spending time trying to figure out the algorithm and serving its needs ultimately ends failing. Remember, algorithms are in a constant state of flux, but their ultimate purpose is to give people what they want.

The engineers themselves have experience with the algorithm-first approach backfiring. When Microsoft engineers made an algorithm for a Twitter bot to chat with people by responding to their prompts, in hours it was replying with racist and sexist tweets. 

Connect with the people

The ultimate purpose of marketing is making authentic connections and having meaningful engagements. So be you. Listen to what your audience wants. Let the algorithm worry about the rest. If you’re really concerned about being served first, then you need an ATYPICAL approach. 

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