Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your social media feed only to notice that it’s suddenly flooded with a one-second “broken” X, formerly Twitter, video like this one:

It’s not a coincidence or random chance—it’s a calculated move rooted in the algorithms that power your favorite platforms. And it’s quite successful; almost every X that shares these kinds of videos gets millions of impressions, but why?

Abusing algorithms: The unskippable trick

The key to understanding why these videos dominate your timeline lies in how social media algorithms prioritize content. At the heart of these algorithms is a simple metric: watch time. Watch time refers to the total amount of time viewers spend watching a video. The longer the watch time, the more likely the video is to be pushed to other users’ feeds.

These videos are crafted to be unskippable or to captivate attention so thoroughly that viewers watch them in their entirety. These videos often employ clever tactics:

  • Short duration: Videos that are only a few seconds long can easily achieve 100% watch time because it’s easier to watch something for a few seconds than to commit to a longer video.

  • Compelling hooks: These videos start with something visually or narratively interesting right away, making it hard for viewers to scroll past.
  • Looping content: Some videos are designed to loop seamlessly, giving the illusion of continuous content and tricking viewers into watching longer than they realize.

By ensuring viewers stay for the entire video, creators can maximize watch time, which in turn signals to the algorithm that this content is highly engaging. The algorithm then amplifies these videos, spreading them to more users.

This practice is often referred to as “algorithm abuse.” Creators exploit the system by focusing on strategies that game the algorithm rather than creating substantive content.

The mantra here is clear: exploit early and often. The faster a creator can latch onto an algorithmic loophole, the quicker their content spreads.

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The impact on your feed

As more creators catch on to these tech tricks, your feed becomes inundated with similar types of videos. This isn’t just an accident—it’s a direct result of the algorithm’s preferences. What might start as a novel or engaging trend can quickly become overwhelming as the algorithm continues to push these high-watch-time videos to the forefront, like how my timeline filled up with these kinds of videos.

What can you do?

If you find these videos disruptive, you can take steps to curate your feed more actively:

  • Engage wisely: Spend more time on content that genuinely interests you, as this will signal the algorithm to show you more of that type.
  • Use platform controls: Utilize features that allow you to hide or report content that feels spammy or manipulative.
  • Diversify your feed: Follow a variety of creators to ensure a more balanced and less repetitive stream of content.

By understanding the mechanics behind why certain videos flood your timeline, you can navigate social media more effectively and make the algorithm work for you, not against you.

Should you try it?

Whether you should try this trick depends on your goals and values as a content creator. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Pros:
    • Increased visibility: Using tricks to maximize watch time can significantly boost the visibility of your videos. This can help you reach a larger audience quickly.

    • Quick growth: Exploiting the algorithm can lead to rapid growth in followers and engagement, which can be beneficial if you’re looking to expand your reach fast.
  • Cons:
    • Content quality: Focusing too much on tricking the algorithm might lead to sacrificing the quality of your content. Over time, this can alienate your audience if they find the content lacks substance.
    • Sustainability: Trends and algorithm loopholes change frequently. What works today might not work tomorrow, so relying on these tricks can lead to an unstable growth strategy.
    • Platform policies: Social media platforms continuously update their algorithms to prevent abuse. If your content is flagged as manipulative, it could lead to penalties or reduced visibility.

If you decide to use this trick, try to balance it with creating high-quality, engaging content that offers real value to your audience. This way, you can benefit from algorithm boosts while also building a loyal and engaged follower base.

Featured image credit: saturn/X


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