It’s the algorithm, stupid

Every election campaign has that one liner that resonates for many years after we have already forgotten the source of the campaign and who won that election anyway.

 In 1992, it was Bill Clinton’s US presidential campaign that issued this gem: “This is the economy, you idiot.” What exactly did they want to tell us in this story?

You – the audience, the potential voter, the customer, the public, you are the stupid who doesn’t  understand how the economy knocks you out. Everything that happens around you, education, welfare, environment, communication, in the end, there is this transparent bubble surrounding you that causes everything to occur – and that’s the economy. Understanding the economy is complicated and requires knowledge that anyone of us, simple peasants, well – just don’t have. 

Why did I choose this slogan as a post title? Well, the social media algorithm AKA Facebook, Google, YouTube, is already enormous, coats up almost every aspect of everyday life, and yet so complex. And thus it’s easy to compare it to the economy –  it requires high understanding and knowledge to crack the way it works.  But what’s certain is – the house always wins. “The house” wins us both, the customers who are the suppliers, the B2B who are the B2C in an endless matrix of service providers and clients, selling and buying and so on and so forth.

Nyugati Palyaudvar, Budapest (Hungary)

I often find myself struggling to explain my clients how complex the infrastructure of social media is.  How the algorithm distorts and jams what their planned strategic moves down to execution. The client does not always understand and may mistakenly think I don’t have the skills and experience to perform my  job. Add to that charlatans who promise goods they can’t provide, at prices that push the market down,and here’s a successful recipe for frustration and disappointment.

In the following list I would like to share with you things we all experience from time to time, and not always pleasant. Whether we are colleagues in the same area of expertise or not,  freelancers, clients or even friends from completely different fields, I believe you will find here some insights you can relate to, and if you have some more, please feel free to comment and share.

  1. Grant access and  app permissions. It can take just one click, but it can also take at least two frustrating days of investigations. Who knew the ad account belongs to someone else from the agency whom you the client stopped working with a long time ago, the admin resigned a year ago and now the owner has permission for the account, but can’t grant access to anyone else. The Business Suite and the Business Manager and the Tag Manager lead to an endless maze of clicks and screens and windows and pop-ups and hair-pulling anger management. Then the client gives you his username and password, but doesn’t understand why he received a text message asking him to confirm, and if they sent him a sms then they actually confirmed the permission right? And if they approved the FB catalog does that mean they also approved the Instagram shopping, right? Well, no.
    Bottom line >>> connecting to the client’s account on social can get messy. You’ll find yourself getting smoke from your ears,  cursing your laptop and banging the keyboard hard. And then suddenly it works out, and no one understands what we pressed and how we made it work. Well, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

  2. There is no magic in this line of work. Yes, there are no barriers to this line of work either. One doesn’t need a degree or certificate; No internship, no bureau tests and no Supreme Council approvals. Everyone can bid and everyone can promise, and that’s exactly the problem. If you are offered a service at a very cheap price, and extremely fast results, it could be a scam or a lie. In digital asset management, marketing and all that it entails, there are no shortcuts and no secrets: What brings good results is consistency, slow, long-term work, planning a strategy, trial and error and getting ready surprises. Sometimes this text in which we put the most effort brings poor results, and that two millisecond blurry shot brings the best engagement. 
    Bottom line >>> The real meaning of the Latin word “diet” is lifestyle, and not a short bang of weight loss. In any process of building and implementing a marketing strategy, managing digital assets, there are no shortcuts. One must act over time, patiently, deal with failures and successes, and remember that Rome was not built in one day.

  3. God works in mysterious ways. One bright morning he can reject a campaign without explanation, close an account at a hands wrath, disqualify a story over royalties issues, return a blocked account to be active, without any justification or apology. It’s all very difficult to get the people there up at Olympus of technical support. Sometimes they pop up in a second, sometimes a message pops up that the chat is not available right now, sometimes they call, sometimes they disappear. Beyond that, sometimes the word “sell” does not fit the ad, but who really knows?  As the service provider, I depend on a large system over which I have no control or influence. I am just a tiny fish, wing-clipped shiver given swimming with the current where the blue ocean takes me. So, Thanks for understanding, really.
    Bottom line >>> your campaign managers do not really pull the strings, but only know where they are leading, are experienced enough to recognize the obstacles that may arise along the way, but can rarely move them.
  4. Wait, we’re not done yet. And that’s exactly the point. Because as soon as we sign a work agreement, don’t disappear on me. The truth is, we both have to collaborate and work together. I can see it may be a bit awkward to you, the client. I mean, you would expect me to read your thoughts, and take out all the goodies you dream of and translate them into Facebook and Instagram. Unfortunately, The technology has not yet been invented and wide spread for commercial use. It is important that you send me everything you have even if it does not seem relevant – files, pictures, upcoming sale and discounts you decided on last night. You need to update me on out of stock products that show on your website  as in stock. Until my telepathic skills will be up and running and I’ll be proficient in making that Vulkan mind meld on you, I’ll be needing you to update me on stuff and share your content with me, as trivial as it may seem to you. You know what? It’s better you send me everything, don’t spare me, and trust me I’d be cherry picking what’s relevant and make diamonds out of raw charcoal. That’s why you hired me for this job. 
    Bottom line >>> To quote the wonderful 90s movie titled Jerry Maguire – “help me, help you”.

Bidi Sh.
The Running Nomad

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