Why Most Algorithm Advice Is Useless For Creators

Sep 28, 2021
Edited by the author — Original from Pexels


I’m sick of creators pretending they know the secret to the algorithms on whatever platform they are on.

They don’t. I don’t either.

Yet people will confidently preach their opinions and reference the “algorithm” to give themselves pseudo-credibility. They’ll gain a cult-like following of people who desperately want to be successful. If any of them truly had a hack to beat the algorithm then they’d be millionaires not tweeting it out to their 23 followers.

I’ve talked to people behind the scenes on different platforms. They don’t know how the algorithm works themselves! By design, they are complex beasts and constantly adapting to try to serve the human audience better.

I want you to shift your thinking from beating the algorithm to adding value to people. If enough people love your work, in the long run, you can’t fail.


Avoid jail

The one thing algorithm-related you need to do is make sure you don’t get flagged negatively.

This isn’t anywhere near as hard as some people make it out to be. Most platforms have detailed guidance and huge knowledge base banks. Yet people don’t bother reading them then complain instead. Never message more experienced creators asking for advice if you haven’t even read the manual.

Read the rules.

Follow the rules.

I’m assuming, well hoping, you aren’t posting anything illegal. If you are please close this article and shut down your device. Don’t switch it back on again. Thanks.

If your content is legal then you could be flagged for several easily fixable things such as misleading headlines or poor quality. Getting to this stage is the bare minimum level and after this, it’s all about connecting with the audience.


Don’t post this much

I’m expanding into YouTube soon and the way I work is that I research the hell out of something before I do it. I’m a nerd like that. I lost count of the number of videos telling me you need to post this many times per week at the same time because the algorithm rewards that.

It feels like an assumption repeated often enough by enough people who reference each other.

I don’t buy it. A consistent schedule might help the creator find their groove and ensure they keep putting good work out there. But does the algorithm have a clause to say if they post at the same minute every week then send them more views?

People still insist you need to publish something every single day on writing platforms because of the algorithm. Take it from someone who published 1.5x a week and built an online business big enough to quit consulting. You don’t.

Writing huge amounts of quality means you’re more likely to get a few lucky ones. It’s like if you wildly fling a thousand darts at a board you might hit the bullseye. If you take your time on each throw then the likelihood any given dart hits the bullseye is much higher. I take more pride in the second approach.

If your tactic is to flood the internet and hope something sticks then be my guest. Just please don’t pretend it’s because of some magical insight into how a platform works.


The rollercoaster

Narcissistic Creator Syndrome is where all the bad months are blamed on the algorithm and all the good months are because of individual brilliance.

Sound familiar?

My views go up and down each month, it’s the nature of a world where I’m not the main character in everyone else’s lives. I can’t hack the algorithm to deliver the same views each month. The algorithm can’t hack humans to force them to read rather than go out with their friends.

The algorithm is not our enemy. The whole point of it is to promote the work it expects the audience to like to generate more views and engagement. Every platform wants the same thing at a high level as every creator. Yet this is the big picture and what you and ten of your mates experience are unlikely to represent the entire creator community.

When it seems like views are down everywhere, everyone blames the algorithm. Poor thing. It’s an open secret more people were stuck inside last year than ever before. Doesn’t it make sense for there to be fewer views this year as the captive audience has been freed in many parts of the world?


People, not algorithms

We need to shift the focus back to humans again. If your primary aim is search rankings or getting pushed by the algorithm, you’ve already lost in some ways. I want my content to speak to people for it to inform or entertain them.

The algorithm likes titles like this.
No, humans like titles like this.

The algorithm likes images like this.
No, humans like images like this.

The algorithm likes these subjects.
No, humans like these subjects.

So many growth hackers fail because they forget the point of all this. Using every dirty trick in the book to get more views and followers can only work for so long until your quality needs to back up your marketing.

The beauty in all this is you are a human. You know other humans too. Rather than trying to game an algorithm you can’t possibly understand, you can get feedback to appeal to more people on a deeper level. Don’t mystify things more than they need to be.

Humans are complex enough as it is but studying them rather than lines of code will mean your work makes a greater impact. I’ve read pieces optimized for SEO and they suck because they are trying to appeal to algorithms.

Let’s humanize content again.

Amar's Letter

Real talk on driving impact as an imperfect human.