The algorithm isn’t our enemy, but a friend wanting us to do better

Odette Barry reveals why, when it comes to the all-knowing algorithm, we might just have the upper hand after all.

Recent reports suggest the current model of online journalism is broken. It’s a topic both Jim Waterson, media editor of The Guardian, and Kyra Hatzikosmidis, head of public relations at Red Herring, tackled recently, collectively begging the question – where can we turn, in today’s media landscape, to ensure our voice is heard and the algorithm plays nice?

It’s a question we especially focused on when the social media gods waved their magical algorithm wands again early last year. But you know what? I think they made the right call.

It’s time we saw the difficult-to-master algorithm as a firm, but ultimately loving, shove in the right direction. After all, its aim was to force us to remember what it means to really connect, genuinely engage with those around us, and take stock of how we share our message.


Because there’s only so much a social media strategy can do. It is not, and never should be, considered the be all and end all, but rather just one element of a digital strategy that sits within a broader business and marketing plan which should be bursting with multi-channel tactics.

So, how can businesses and brands make their voice heard in today’s media landscape? When developing and revising your strategy each step of the way, ask yourself: How would you implement this with your team? And do you have the budget to back it up?

1. Humanise your brand

We all thrive when we form genuine connections. In fact, research has shown that mindless scrolling and passive engagement across social media has been closely linked with poor mental health – what better reason to promote real conversations and share the real and vulnerable stories at every opportunity?

Better yet, seek out face-to-face workshops, short courses and mentoring opportunities wherever possible – the buzz I get from that kind of human interaction feeds my entire business strategy daily.

2. Amplify your voice, and support the voices of others

Promote your brand through thought leadership PR.

Now is the time to showcase your expertise and credibility, while building trust between your brand and target audiences. As a part of that, ensure you support good quality journalism and leverage the relationships you form as a result.

Every one of us should be a fully paid up member of the major mastheads (and a few of the independents), and constantly remain curious and invested in the kind of writing that genuinely impacts us and the world we live in.

3. Optimise for your business objectives

Use the multiple tools we have at our disposal to make posting on social media as streamlined as possible – after all, having a successful social media strategy doesn’t mean your team has to be tied to a screen every waking moment.

Flex and optimise your use of listening and scheduling tools, use smart inboxes and, if you’re a service-based business, ensure you are taking advantage of tools like Linktree and Aquity.

4. Put the ‘social’ back into ‘social media’

This means keeping the end strategy front of mind: connecting with people via direct messaging, responding to public comments and acknowledging relevant brands and influencers at every turn. While this is time consuming, the connection is the fun and nourishing part of social media for your customers. So respect the time and energy they put into responding to your content by investing in genuine and hearty conversation that helps turn your customers into a loyal tribe.

5. Get back to basics

Ensure you have a strong visual identity at every touch point. That means meeting with everyone in your team, or any freelancers you’re engaging, to ensure everyone is singing from the same book.

Your style guide or brand bible needs to be referenced by anyone who represents or creates content for your brand – whether that’s design, photography or web developers.

6. Hit the streets

Some of the very best results for our own clients have come from them taking the time to hit the pavement and be seen in the community, among the people they’re trying to reach. So show up to that expo or networking event, and master your public speaking fears.

7. Optimise for your category

Take a deep breath and leap into the new offerings that platforms are serving up, whether that’s shoppable tags on Insta or in-app purchasing.

When it comes to Afterpay, be sure to examine your ethical standpoint and, if it aligns with your brand values, jump into payment plan options that will increase cart spend.

8. Remain mindful

Managing the emotional toll of social media is entirely in our control. Allocate set times for ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ interactions and don’t revert to the mindless scroll, but explore with fierce curiosity and intention.

And when you’re done, step away from the screen and soak up your surroundings. Exercise, breathe deeply, hug your loved ones and pursue your passions – they’re the things that will fuel your fire, so you can do it all again tomorrow.

Odette Barry is the founder and director of digital marketing and PR agency Odette & Co.


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