Why I do not believe in the Social Media “growth hacks”

Growth hacking is being used by many in the field of marketing and sales. Simple tricks can improve the process of client acquisition, and in the last years, we could see a real boom of Growth Hackers or Growth Hacking companies. 

This discipline has become so broad that people started to specialize in a particular field of Growth Hacking. One of these fields is Social Media Growth Hacking that is about to increase the number of followers, likes, comments or content reads or views.

Why I don't believe in social media growth hacks

These hacks are very tempting for everyone who starts their journey in Social Media. I also have been trying to use these hacks. Maybe my expectations were too high, but after a while of testing these tricks, I came to the conclusion that they either don’t work or work for particular cases, which disqualifies them from being hacks, eventually. I’d like to share a shortlist of examples explaining why I do not think you can build your Social Media channels by using hacks.

Post your content on particular hours

We’ve created a place that had descriptions and real photos of national products of that sort. Also, we’ve established a Facebook profile. While posting content on Facebook, we’ve been testing various approaches to posting the content and checked the results. Back then, indeed, there was a difference between posting on particular hours.

Time passed, and now Facebook algorithms are more sophisticated. At the top of it, the platform is now enforcing you to pay for ads by cutting ranges of non-sponsored content. Then it introduces a set of various filters on the content depending on thousands of factors. May happen that a post published today won’t be visible to your friends or followers until tomorrow. Or even ever. So it does not matter if you post it at 9am or 3pm. There are more things beyond, which determine when your post will eventually be visible to others.

Same goes to LinkedIn. I’ve read, in many places, that posting between Tuesday and Thursday afternoon is the right time to publish. As a LinkedIn user, I notice that LinkedIn enforces “Top” sorting of the feed despite the fact I always set it to “Recent”. So when I check my feed, I often see posts from a couple of days ago. It means that even the date of posting the content is meaningless, not to mention the hour.

So, in my opinion, it does not matter what time you post. Maybe posting at night and during the weekend has less impact.

Content tricks, what should your post consist of

I think that there are whole books about what your content should look like, what it should consist of, what graphics are desired by what type of social media. I can agree on a thesis that posts with images grab more attention, but this is not a trick- it’s common sense. 

In one article I’ve read that it is better not to put a link to the page you want your readers to go. Instead it is more effective to publish content without the link and then edit the post and add that link afterwards. Or post that link in a comment. It’s said that this is a way of LI to promote the inner content making its users stay at LI rather than go elsewhere.

I imagine that engineers of LI would check the post every time it’s submitted, not only when creating it. I think that every self-respecting engineer would follow DRY approach and run the same checks before updating the database. It is a common approach.

Of course, I’ve tested this suggestion. I’ve published my post that contains the link to my blog one week. It got 128 views (not a wow, but hey, I am not a Social Media Growth Hacker!). The other week I published a post, then I’ve edited it and added the link. Guess what? I got 128 views as well.

From the position of an expert

The problem of sorting the content in a way, that users of a particular app get the most valuable information is not something that can be solved effortlessly. In every Social Media platform, their creators have a real pickle on how to approach this problem.

I’ve been involved in solving this problem in the Thriver App. When working with my clients, we’ve spent hours figuring out what would be the best solution. We’ve been considering a lot of aspects, but we had one goal in mind- ensure that users are not bored and they get the information that matches them the most.

With my knowledge, as the person who creates such algorithms, I can honestly say that possibilities to cheat the algorithms exist but these are quickly spotted and algorithm updates. If a hack was working for some people for some time, it wouldn’t last forever. This battle cannot be simply won by attempting to find another “bug” in the sorting algorithm. I believe that there are better ways to achieve the goal.

I believe in the power of content

Recently I wrote an article about some technical aspects of ReactJS framework. I did that, along with updating my company’s website. I was just curious how changes I’ve made will impact my website and check how proper ReactJS documentation is. I did not pay that much attention to this article. I’ve posted it, and it neither got significant audience feedback nor article views in first days. 

After two weeks, when I’ve forgotten about this article, I got an email from Medium that it has been recommended in topics on Medium. I must say that it was a pleasant surprise. On the other hand, it helped me to make this conclusion that this article got promoted not because I’ve been doing tricks and applying hacks. It went that well only because readers noticed it to be meaningful. 

There are many hacks and tricks you can find from various authors. I am not against using these tricks as they can somehow unify your approach of being on social media. I consider them as tactics but what you want to have is a long term strategy.

My impression about these “growth hacks” in social media is this: don’t focus on tricks to promote your post, simply make it meaningful.

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