Hacking social media algorithms using psychology

Katy Leeson, MD of Social Chain
It is hard for brands to be seen by their audiences. In this talk, Katy shares the latest in Social Media Psychology that will help you to really hack the algorithm.

Standing out on social media in 2021

Now more than ever, people are behind their screens and glued to their phones. In 2020, the average internet user is a member of 8.5 social networks- that all the main ones you can think of, plus forums and dating apps too.

And as a result, on average we are battling with 4000+ advertising messages a day.

So how do we as people, and we as our brands, stand out amongst all that noise?

Here are the top takeaways from Katy Leeson’s talk. 

Social sharing stats

Why do people share on social media?

There are a number key reasons people share on socials. If you can tap into these, you will be connecting with people, and generate more engagement:

  • Altruism. Giving and leading with kindness is scientifically proven to make us feel good.
  • Relating to ourselves ourselves. If we relate to the content, we join the conversation.
  • To foster connection and develop relationships. Social connection makes us feel good. (That’s why tagging users, sharing and using interactive CTAs can be so impactful)
  • Self-fulfilment. Learning, growing, and getting feedback/validation matters to us all.
  • To share what we believe in. Social causes, thoughts and ideas.
  • Trust is incredibly important. Having active, and engaging socials that feel very human, builds brand trust. Oxytocin is released with we share, and build trust. For example, encouraging UGC can create a halo effect because the brand is hyped by other people, and people trust people. 
  • There is a science to using emojis. Emojis mimic facial expressions, which makes us feel more connected. So use humour, share feel good stories and add in emojis – this will increase engagement. 
  • Colour is powerful, it builds relationships and affects brand perception. Consider colour psychology in your posts and imagery.  Use colours that stay on the brand (within the post and the grid), and are appealing to your customers. Colours invoke different reactions.
  • Social reciprocity- surprise and delight your audience. When someone does something for you, naturally you want to do something for them. If you/your brand is the first to give, and particularly if it’s unexpected, it is going to provoke a positive reaction. So be generous and kind on your social channels.

Overall, we are reminded that social platforms are there to be social. Create connections, and exchange conversations. THAT is the real hack to break through on socials.


Q and A with Katy Leeson

I am running my own business. Any advice on time management/ what to outsource?
I would recommend have a more productive morning- create a clear vision, and break it down into your tasks for the day. Make sure you are doing small things towards your long-term vision, and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit that bill. 

It’s very hard to grow organic without a big spend, do you have any advice?
Yes, do the things I have shared with you today. Simply, take the time to understand your audience. No, its not easy to grow your social following and engagement. But getting to know your audience matters most. 

What is the biggest mistake that businesses/brands make on their socials?
Expecting people to engage with something that isn’t social first. They think everyone cares about the things their business cares about, in reality, they really don’t.