How restaurants can ‘hack’ social media algorithms

In today’s world of the Internet and social media, content is produced at a breakneck pace. In a single day, there are 4.75 million items shared by Facebook users each day, 95 million photos and videos shared on Instagram, and around 720,000 hours of new video content per day on YouTube. With all the content being created, it is impossible for social networks to display 100% of the content in a user’s feed. Thus, companies often find that their posts are lost in the deluge of content, especially since their content is only shown to less than 5% of their total audience due to social media algorithms, resulting in an average engagement rate of around 0.25% only, according to Hoot Suite. For businesses looking to engage with their customers and generate revenue through social media, knowing how to use the social media algorithm to your advantage and ensuring your content is front and center becomes essential.

The activity of social media platforms and why they need an algorithm

As demonstrated above, the reality is that there is too much generated content to show it all to a user. Additionally, users have short attention spans and other priorities compete for their time.

All social media platforms are driven by one thing: finding popular content that is relevant to users, whether it’s a photo of a puppy, a very popular band, or the story of a friend and put it in front of them. Why? Because the truth is that active users and the time they spend on the social platform is the most important asset of a social media platform. The platforms are all in competition for this”Golden” active, the active user. Failure to bring the popular, easily accessible, top-of-the-page content to the user (their “feed”), will result in their users being moved to another platform, because no one wants to be bored, watch unpopular content or spend hours browsing through the deluge of content that is posted every hour to find something that interests them.

Thus, “the algorithm” is the most critical component for the user of the social media platform.

How Social Media Algorithms Work

According to Facebook, the platform says the goal is to “discover new content and connect with stories they [the users] care the most. Social media channels like Facebook achieve this by categorizing content based on three main criteria: the people and businesses users interact with the most, the type of content users tend to interact with (e.g., photos or videos) and the degree of commitment of an individual. post receives. When a business finds that posts are receiving very low engagement, chances are the posts are not meeting the criteria and therefore not serving to a large enough percentage of followers. Essentially, all that hard work creating social media content and planning and scheduling posts is wasted.

Beat the algorithm by increasing your social gravity

The way many companies ensure that their posts will appear in users’ feeds is to increase posts by placing paid budget into them through social media advertising. In fact, a survey of business leaders by social sprout found that 80% believe investing in social media advertising is important to gaining a strong social media presence. Boosting basically seems like the easy way to get more exposure, but there are several nuances to the strategy. For example, by boosting a post area you will get more exposure would be an increase in the display of the post to your followers, intuitively this would sound positive but the next question is key, “how good are your followers? ” If your followers are high-value, brand-loyal connections, this is a great investment, but if your followers were acquired through paid exposure or cute, irrelevant puppy photos, those connections are less likely to engage or take your call. to-Action. It turns out that boosting as a singular strategy is effective at random and ROI is not a reliable method to engage your customers. What if there was a better strategy that didn’t rely on paid advertising to make sure the algorithm works in your favor?

Let’s go back to the criteria that social networks like Facebook use to rank content. First, it is the content that people interact with the most, quantified as likes/reactions, comments or shares, and these elements build on each other. For example, when a post from a company is shared, not only that person sees it, but everyone they are connected with through social media. And as more people start seeing, clicking, and engaging, the algorithm notes that engagement and passes it on to more users. A helpful way to think about it is to use a term I coined: social gravity. Gravity is a mass-pulling force, and social media works the same way. A post attracts reactions, comments, shares, etc., which increases the popularity (mass) of the original posts and this increase then adds to the popularity, resulting in increasing gravity with each engagement. Thus, it increases social gravity.

But imagine going a step further and integrating your company’s social media with other technologies to create a successful revenue generation strategy. This is where integrated WiFi marketing comes in.

A revenue-generating advantage through integration

The integration of technologies to drive customer engagement and hack the social media algorithm looks like this: A customer goes to a sports bar during happy hour and provides their name and phone number to access WiFi . The restaurant collects this information and can use it to communicate with the customer. While still inside the sports bar, he receives a text message with a link to a Facebook post share stating that appetizers are buy get one free during happy hour. Social gravity is instantly increased as their smartphone contacts Facebook and displays a “preview” of the post or event. The social algorithm considers this insight as an activity. He’s already at the sports bar during happy hour, so that’s a great post to see, and he “clicks” on the link that opens Facebook and goes to the post. Again, the social algorithm then “sees” that someone has opened Facebook and gone straight to the full post, further increasing the social gravity of the post.

But, then he likes the post and then shares it for his friends to see too and both of these activities are “seen” by Facebook and each has a greater impact on the social gravity of the post. A simple text immediately becomes four measurable events that all contribute to the social gravity of the original message. And while he’s there, he orders an appetizer to take advantage of buying a free deal. That’s one person though, now multiply that by everyone who comes into the sports bar during happy hour. That’s a lot of people interacting with the post, which ensures that the algorithm will rank it higher. Not only did the sports bar not have to pay to boost the post, but it also earned revenue from promoting happy hour.

The example above uses a sports bar, but the use of integrated Wi-Fi marketing campaigns has grown across all industries, including restaurants, hotels, cafes, retail stores and franchises. The strategy is effective since customers appreciate having access to free Wi-Fi (96% prefer businesses that offer it according to Global market overview) and 74% of people are happy with companies texting them promotions while using in-store Wi-Fi, according to a OnDeviceResearch Poll. Additionally, the integrated Wi-Fi marketing campaigns are hyper-targeted and delivered in real-time, which further ensures that the right customers get the right message at the right time.

An example of this is a Facebook post from a sports bar promoting a special happy hour. But there are plenty of opportunities to integrate Wi-Fi, social media, text messaging, and even digital signage to boost engagement on social media platforms and hack algorithms — and that’s just the beginning. . The end result is increased revenue and improved profitability by attracting more customers, filling restaurant seats on quieter days, increasing average sales, or increasing event attendance.

Stephen Gould is an entrepreneur with a successful history of providing guest engagement software solutions for the hospitality industry and he is the founder and CEO of NConnections. He holds a bachelor’s degrees degree in computer science from the University of Central Florida.

Sharon D. Cole