Seven Ways To Hack The Facebook Algorithm IRL

Mark Zuckerberg angry faced

Mark Zuckerberg

In sales and marketing, we have always been told to “ask for the business” to close the sale. It is how you grow, it is how you increase your bottom line. But today in social media, and thanks to algorithms and intelligent learning, or A.I. … if a business asks for a like, a share or a comment, the platform “hears” what they are saying and punishes them for trying to sway their fans into taking an action or coercing them to like the business. So, what is a business to do? How are you supposed to ask for the business in social media without upsetting the House of Zuckerberg?

Well, you can pay-to-play of course, and most businesses do, in one form or another these days. At ChartLocal, we also recommend making sure you cross-promote by utilizing on and off page SEO, SEM and all available social channels, with proper and effective use of hashtags and by loading your website with good, relevant content.

But don’t turn your back on the oldest form of business marketing, tried and true word-of-mouth. Getting people to talk about you in real life and on social media may be best driven today I.R.L.

woman sharing review


For some time now, we have been telling our clients to use offline to drive online … good old fashioned IRL or “in-real-life”, for those of you not up on the acronym. Do something nice for your customers, patients or clients while they are physically in your business or practice. Either for everyone, a specific group or even an individual, but whatever it is, make it memorable. Do something so over-the-top and unexpected that the client is duty-bound to share the experience with friends, co-workers and eventually in the social space.

My wife and I were recently waiting for a table at a high-end restaurant (The Capital Grille) and were accidentally forgotten as we waited in the bar. Forty minutes passed, but frankly, we had not noticed as we were having fun anyway, talking to a few people we knew. Suddenly, the maître d’ appeared and was so apologetic, honestly explaining that a new hire had simply forgotten about us. He then asked if we would choose any wine from their extensive list, it would be sent to our now-ready table, on-the-house. The waiter arrived with the list and we chose a moderately priced wine and enjoyed a lovely steak dinner. Upon completion, the waiter explained that dessert was also going to be complimentary that evening, per instructions from the maître d’.

I tell this story because while the maître d’ could have had no way of knowing, those over-the-top acts of incredible customer service were actually rewarded quite handsomely. Both myself, and my wife have rather large social media followings (my wife was actually national B2B Twitterer of that year) and within a matter of minutes, we had shared our wonderful experience with reviews, likes and shares mentioning the maître d’ and waiter by name. Many of our followers and fans shared our posts, and by last calculation, we had reached over 150,000 people within the region that day. In the following days, it reached even further afield as our friends passed it on to their friends and fans (one of our friends tweeted it to her 100,000-person fan base).

Waiter with wine and glass

Complimentary wine


So you see, an I.R.L. act of amazing customer service had an online impact totaling hundreds of thousands of impressions, for a $40 bottle of wine and two slices of cheesecake!

You may want to offer all the members of your loyalty club a special gift (try not to make it a discount, but rather, something with no strings attached). Discounts are not a good example of something to give unless they are perceived as something of great value, like “75% off for Loyalty Club members this weekend only”.

Singling out a specific customer can also be very effective. Let’s say a woman comes into your salon every Friday to have her hair washed and styled for the weekend. One weekend out of the year … just tell her it’s on-the-house, not a discount, or coupon … just a total surprise. Ask her to do you a favor in return and post a nice review on Google and Facebook. The benefit to you of another positive review far outweighs your cost-of-goods-sold on that wash and style.

four pack of starbucks gift cards

Starbucks Gift Cards

Are your customers remote? Then go to your local Starbucks and buy a few $10 gift cards. Send them to random clients, with no sales pitch or business ask of any kind. However, the next time you talk to them by phone or send an email, ask them to do you the favor of leaving a positive comment on any social platform. Having just enjoyed their Pumpkin-Spice caffè latte on you, they will be far more inclined to do so.

Another way to surprise a customer would be to thank them publicly after a sale. Mention the client by name on your Facebook page or Twitter profile and thank them for their business. Make sure you tag or @mention them so they see the post. Do this at least once a week.

Are your customers in business themselves? If so, make sure you refer business to them. Link your website to theirs and always try to send them business. If you own an ice cream or coffee shop, or even a bar, and a plumber routinely stops in, make sure you put an enthusiastic review on social media for them too. Make sure you tag them so they see it and share it also. It will pay off in like reviews from your B2B clients and customers.

Finally, provide great customer service every day, to everybody. That is far and away the best method for getting positive reviews and great comments online. Think of it this way …Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby and author of Anything You Want, advises, “Imagine every person you are emailing with is Mick Jagger.” You know you would provide great service to Sir Mick, but what about offering that kind of service to everybody? IRL … the way to gain social swell. If you treat clients well, they will not mind if you ask for a recommendation or review online … and that … is how you get around the online ask that has the algorithms shutting you down.

Paul Evans