The role of the social media algorithm is to create an online “experience” that retains our attention for long enough to analyse our behaviour and harvest our personal data.
In second-guessing our thoughts, it attempts to populate our social world with content that it deems worthy of our attention. I do not believe that it achieves its goal. While the algorithm might scratch the surface of our basic motivations, its input will continue to come from the masses rather than the individual. In terms of its output, the notion of whom it deems worthy is highly subjective and open to external influence.
No matter how complex the social media algorithms may become, they can be gamed and that is why they will ultimately fail. As a result, they serve up a homogenous mess of influencer-led like-bait that is sadly just about relevant enough to merit engaging with. Thus, the vicious circle of the algorithm continues to reward those who speak to the masses rather than the individual.
That being said, the individual will soon be fighting back.
People are starting to tire of the self-reinforcing echo chamber of social media, and there are signs that social media is poised to pivot towards the individual. Just as social media companies use algorithms to sift through the masses of data on the internet, so this pivot will allow each of us to make our own choices on social.
Everyone will have their own deeply customisable algorithm to create the online world that they want rather than what Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn wants them to see.
Let’s say that I am looking for a job. Compiling a list of potential companies will be a simple matter, but then comes the interesting part. My algorithm will allow me to distil the essence of their employer brand by analysing what they and their people are writing and talking about on social (going back in time for as long as I like).
Employers will make an effort to talk about what they believe in if they realise that it will reach an interested audience (rather than get lost in the current content black hole).
In much the same way, for recruiters and other B2B service providers, their marketing efforts will change from push to pull. Rather than try to game the social algorithms to get their voice out there, the move to personalised algorithms will allow them to talk about what they really care about without worrying about how many likes they get. If one of their audience is interested in what they are saying, the content will find its way to them.
When a client takes a deep dive into a selection of potential recruitment partners, or a candidate investigates a potential employer, what will they find?
That question will drive recruitment and employer branding for the next decade.
So, forget your tired cynicism about the current state of social media. Over the next few years, online citizens will seize control of their content choices. If recruiters and employers talk about what their audience are interested in, they will be on their radar. If they remain silent, they will be invisible.
I have written content for recruiters and employer brands since 2012. With the inexorable rise of the personal algorithm, having something to say has never been more important.
Let me help you craft your voice.