Tuesday 2¢: Addicted to Computer Love?

This week’s weekly rant: are we doing too much to appease the algorithms at the expense of our audience?

I’ve been feeling a rant coming on about the balance between pleasing the algorithms and pleasing your audience, as I think it’s becoming a choice.

Do you want reach, or do you want engagement?

Right now, I am getting a lot of advice to move my audio-only podcast to video; YouTube is amazing for discovery, don’t you know and YouTube shorts; good lord, my friend, you don’t know what you are missing.

They are almost certainly right; podcasts have no champion with an algorithm like YouTube or TikTok, but what does this mean for the lovely people who like what I do now?

However, the example of algorithmic appeasement that really gets my gears grinding to misquote the great Peter Griffin from Family Guy is this trend on LinkedIn for “link in the comments”.

The premise is that the LinkedIn algorithm cannot stand the idea that despite being a social media crack pipe we business folks are already addicted to, it gets insanely jealous when we glance at another web page between our puffs of the LinkedIn freebase.

The blue touch paper for this rant was lit when I saw such a post, with the link in the comments, from outside my network, that had been reposted by someone who is.

It seems that when a LinkedIn post is reposted, it doesn’t include the comments. So, if you are interested in the content, you now have a task: find the original f’in’ post.

Play the game.

Ha! Now we have the original post!

Now, where is the comment?

Is it conveniently beneath the post, the first one?

No, no, of course not, as despite this author being a slave to its algorithm, sacrificing sanity on the altar of reach, LinkedIn would like to show you the most relevant first.

And it has decided it’s not the f**king link.

The LinkedIn comment system was not built for these algorithm-appeasing shenanigans, so I am not blaming LinkedIn, and, yes, yes, I could have scrolled on and ignored it, but damn it, I was interested in the content. And sometimes, yes, I admit, I fall prey to a rabbit hole, I dive in.

Why do this to someone?

Yes, it’s a minor thing, but like the drip drip drip of Chinese water torture, it might not kill ya, but enough drips, it’s quite annoying.

Let’s assume that the LinkedIn algorithm is not wise to this cunning ruse, and this is a proven technique for giving post impressions a bit of a lift. The outcome surely is that you’ve just mildly annoyed more people.

And… maybe I am more prickly than most on this, and this might sound a bit harsh, but I’m coming to the conclusion that if you link in the comments, you care more about the algorithm than you do about your people.

There, I said it.

This is just one example, that I might be uniquely annoyed by, but I feel it’s a choice we need to often make, whether it’s gating content, putting a podcast on video, or this LinkedIn comment foolishness, we make choices between making it easy for our audience or adding friction for the metrics.

Are we addicted to computer love?

OK, yes, I have posted this as a LinkedIn newsletter; the difference is that it’s easier for you, the reader and our robot algorithm overlords.

As this rant against the algorithms formed in my craw, I thought I’d post it here and call it “slave to the algorithm”, but almost exactly a year ago, I already did that, well not exactly the same, but maybe a hobby horse I need to exercise annually.

Fancy more of this?

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