If you post something on Facebook, it’s often your goal to maximize the amount of times it gets seen.
Facebook has a limit of content they can show a user before they get bored and leave the site (People average 50 minutes per day on FB), so they have to choose carefully what to show you. What if you knew how to game the system to your advantage so that YOUR posts get shown more?
This means more engagement.
This means more free exposure.
This means Facebook is more likely to show your other content.
That’s what we’re gonna do now. And here’s the secret to gaming the system…..
To game the system you must first know its true motivation!
That’s right my young friend, if you dig deep and find the true metrics Facebook lives on, you can exploit that to your advantage. :::insert evil laugh:::
What is Facebook’s true motivation?
To keep you on Facebook long as possible.
What does Facebook get out of it?
Advertisers pay money to show ads to all the people looking at Facebook. The more time you spend on Facebook, the more “advertising inventory” they have.
Let’s take a look at some basic examples:
If Facebook keeps showing stuff to users that isn’t engaging and doesn’t keep them sucked in, then the person will leave quickly, spending only a littttlle bit of time per day on Facebook. This is bad for serving up ads:
However if Facebook starts “bumping up” sticky and engaging content in your Newsfeed, you will likely spend MORE time on Facebook, giving them many more opportunities to show you targeted ads:
So Facebook wants us to spend more time in their ecosystem so they can serve up more paid ads.
A quick side note:
“If you’re not paying for the product, YOU ARE the product being sold.”
This quote is often used to make social networks look evil, but I think it’s amazing:
Facebook shows me some harmless ads, and I get to use their $200,000,000,000 world-wide computer infrastructure to play with my friends, promote my stuff, and be entertained….all for free!
I personally think it’s a very fair trade. TV and radio have both worked the same way for decades too.
Now that we understand Facebook’s goal is to keep us on their site, we can see the reasoning behind their products:
- They noticed early on people pay attention to pictures, so they prefer posts with images.
- They noticed if you live-stream a video, your friends come to Facebook to watch and stay glued to Facebook, it keeps them on the site, and you bring other friends back to Facebook, you keep people commenting and interacting. This is why they encourage you to do Live Videos.
- They noticed that vigorous discussion on a post sucks people into the conversation, keeps them reading, and keeps them coming back to Facebook to check the thread. This is why they reward “higher engagement” posts with better placement in the Newsfeed.
Now let’s talk about how to exploit this for ourselves:
Imagine that Facebook assigns you “points” for every single interaction that happens on your post. As a rough example, let’s say the algorithm looks like this:
Someone comments on your post = +1 point.
Someone “Likes” your post = +1 point.
Someone shares your post = +1 point.
Someone “Likes” a comment on your post = +1 point.
Someone replies to a comment on your post = +1 point.
Below are two examples. One has zero “points” and the other has 15 “points.”
Now let’s take a look at another post, but that has a bit more activity and therefore “points”:
Now if you were Mark Zuckerberg, and your goal was to keep people active on your website, which one of these posts to show the user??
That’s right, the one with higher “points!”
Now this “point system” can sometimes skew your newsfeed to silly or infuriating posts.
It’s why crazy political articles get shown all over your newsfeed during an election year…..they simply generate the most buzz and discussion and “points” during that period of time. Here’s an example of a filthy, stupid, horrible, dumbly-written, spiteful post that creeped it’s way to the top before it was removed (seen in a FB group):
Even though this post was absolute garbage, it showed up in my newsfeed over-and-over-and-over again for days. It garnered 300+ comments before it got removed, and in total got more “activity” and views than any other post I’d seen on that Facebook group.
Behind the scenes, the Facebook servers were tallying up how many “points” this stupid post had, and it was through the roof! Therefore this post was ranked highly in multiple Newsfeeds, and dinged lots of people’s Notification Centers with updates bringing them back to the post.
Although if you don’t want to be a huge prick to generate discussion, here’s a handy cheat sheet on how to boost the visibility of your Facebook post:
Gaming Instagram for Maximum Exposure:
Instagram is fantastic for just browsing images. Turns out people kinda LOVE just browsing images with just a tteeennsy bit of text.
Instagram was acquired by Facebook a few years ago, and it has now quietly becoming one of the largest apps/site on the web. They have the same desire as Facebook: Keep you in the ecosystem for as long as possible.
Knowing this, we can game Instagram based on what keeps people on the site the longest:
Puppies, Food, Motivation, Working Out, Rich People Stuff, and Hot Girls!
Look how my own Instagram was built up:
Besides a few recent posts, the entire previous life of the account was spent writing motivational-style quotes overlaid onto motivational images and tagging the living shit out of every account and hashtag:
Similarly to Facebook, Instagram thrives on your ACTIVITY within the app.
This means if you heart a lot, comment a lot, tag a lot, post a lot….you are rewarded with more exposure. If you have a post that gets “hearted” and commented on a bunch, they are far more likely to expose your post to more people.
Gaming Quora for Maximum Exposure:
Quora is sooort of like WikiPedia, in the sense it wants to untap the worlds information into one place.
Basically people ask questions, and the community of Quora users answer.
What Quora gets out of it:
Rankings. Lots and lots of rankings. According to my tools they rank for over 49,000,000 search engine keywords, pulling in 100,000,000+ visits per month from Google alone.
How you can game Quora:
Posting frequently and getting your answers upvoted is a huge plus on Quora. But we’re here to game it, so I tried a little experiment:
Within 2 hours I gamed Quora for a keyword using this method:
1.) I searched on google “How to become a copywriter Quora” and found this post with only a few answers:
2.) I took info and images from an existing blog post about How to Become A Copywriter Without Any Experience and adapted the content to a Quora post. I removed a lot of the irrelevant content and took about 10 minutes to customize it to a proper Quora answer. I ended up posting this answer:
3.) I then shared my reply on my personal Facebook page, and several friends upvoted the answer. Within about 30 minutes, I had only 5 upvotes on the post, but that was enough to firmly entrench me as the #1 answer on that thread!
So while it may seem like I “gamed” Quora…..I actually played into their true motivation of “getting great answers to long-tail questions.” So now when someone is looking for information on becoming a copywriter, and they land on this Quora post from a search engine, my answer is the #1 response, and it also links back to my own website in several places.
I get free exposure for my work. Quora gets a good answer to a question. Everyone wins. WUBBA LUBBA DUB DUB!!
Gaming Medium for Maximum Exposure:
Medium is a place where people write articles. It’s like one giant collective blog for the internet.
As you can tell from the other examples, Medium is a site that thrives when more people create content for it, and therefore read it.
They want you to keep reading, clicking, tagging, “hearting”, and commenting.
So let’s do ALL of those things.
I’ve never written a post on Medium, but I believe I know Medium’s true motivation, so we’ll see if this experiment works as I’m writing this post.
Step 1.) I’ll write about becoming a copywriter again like I did for the Quora post.
Step 2.) I took 20 minutes to repurpose my original How to become a copywriter post into a post for Medium. I came up with this:
Step 3.) I shared this new post with all my Facebook friends:
Results: In a few hours this post got enough traction to start showing up in the top results for becoming a copywriter in Medium.
That means with even this half-assed-20-minute-effort experiment I was able to work my way into the results by bowing to Medium’s true desires.
If you write a piece of content on Medium you think is truly epic, and you ask just 25 people to share it, it can start to dominate the results.
Gaming Reddit for Maximum Exposure:
Gaming Reddit is like the holy grail for most marketers, and (fortunately) the HARSHEST environment to do it!
This is good and bad:
The Good: Reddit isn’t completely overrun with marketing bullshit.
The Bad: If you ARE trying to promote your stuff on Reddit, you have to do it gently or creatively.
I’ll demonstrate two examples of gaming Reddit (by bowing to the Reddit audience’s desires):
There are many different sub-reddits. Some are small, some are huge. People often go after the big dogs, but those are difficult.
So as a random experiment a few months ago, with ZERO promotion from my email list or social followings, I posted this AMA (Ask Me Anything) in /r/copywriting:
At the time of the posting, it got around 45 upvotes just naturally (I admit, it was a pretty good title):
Text: Hey there copynerds. Working all day and thought I’d do an AMA in spare time. Ask me anything about how to conduct consultations, getting clients, writing articles.
I don’t have “magic answers” to start getting these rates, it took time and effort to get there. Will answer best I can.
That simple post leaped to the top of the “All Time Best Posts” on r/copywriting in one day!!
Now I will admit I put a few hours of time into answering every….single…..goddamn…..question in that thread, so it wasn’t super easy.
In the end, the trackable traffic back to my website was alright. Nothing spectacular though. From that post, here’s the stats from the day the post was published:
- 732 sessions sent.
- 3min and 50sec average session length.
- 5.19% conversion rate to email list.
- 38 emails collected from the direct traffic.
So it wasn’t like an INSANE avalanche of traffic, but it was something.
BUT my friend…..that was a very small sub-reddit. What if we set our sights a bit higher?
I aimed to take over the /r/Entrepreneur section. This is notoriously un-friendly to marketers, and notoriously harsh in the comments. However at 250,000+ followers of the thread (and immeasurably more casual lurkers), it’s an attractive target.
2 years ago I managed to take over r/Entrepreneur for about 2 days by posting an AMA and sending my email list to the post. It got about 250 upvotes the first day and stayed at the top for part of the weekend:
The post varied in upvotes, as there’s a certain constituency of downvoters on Reddit who hate ANY sort of braggy-sounding posts (which this of course sounded like).
However the response was overall pretty good, and I spent probably a total of 12 hours answering people’s questions.
Here was the copy I used to get this result:
Text: For 2015 I’ve been focusing on growing my site (www.kopywritingkourse.com), and a happy side effect is a 20,000+ strong email list.
Total list size & a screen shot of my autoresponder:
A number of people have been emailing me about how to build an email list for their biz. Rather than attempt to individually explain to each person, I just decided to come on here and tell you whatever you want to know about it.
Topics I can try to help you with:
–Building an email list on the cheap.
–What to give away to get people to signup.
–How to monetize the email list.
–Changing the copy on your page to generate more $’s.
Providing genuine support and great answers is what will prop you up on Reddit.
Reddit DOES NOT WORK the same as most social media sites!!
Most social media sites will boost you to the top if you just create retention and engagement. Reddit will only boost you to the top if other users upvote your post enough. They can also DOWNVOTE your post which is where it’s really different from other sites.
Pretty much zero major social media sites allow you to downvote besides reddit. That downvoting feature is what keeps a lot of marketers out, because soon as the audience smells a whiff of self-promotion, they downvote the post to oblivion.
So back in 2015 I did two reddit AMA’s in r/Entrepreneur, and here were the (trackable) results:
- 5,234 sessions.
- 2min and 38sec average session length.
- 4.05% conversion rate to email list.
- 212 emails collected from the direct traffic.
So that last part……212 emails collected over 2 AMA’s.
THAT was the ulterior motive for doing these AMA’s: To collect email addresses.
It works to collect emails if you do an AMA that genuinely is helpful, provides a ton of great answers, and you have a mechanism to “boost” your upvotes when you post (like a big email list).
But for all the time answering questions and emailing my list about the AMA’s, it ends up being for a relatively small return.
HOWEVER, these two examples show you CAN dominate big Sub-Reddits like r/Entrepreneur if you have a little marketing fire-power like an email list of fans…….and you can very easily dominate smaller Sub-Reddits with pretty much nothing.
So that my friend is how you game a social network. You first understand it’s motivations, and then play according to those rules. Use this information wisely (if it makes sense for you to use)!
Neville Medhora – Gamer of Networks
P.S. Which other hacks do you know to get your posts seen? Comment below, I love learning new ways!
P.P.S. There were four social networks I personally don’t know enough about to game: Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat. If you know some tactics to increase exposure on these, leave a comment below with your methods! Update: Gerard posted some fantastic Twitter hacks in the comments.