Social media survival 101 – how to grow on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube using these 3 hacks

Marketers are never shy to claim the skill of growth hacking – often to little output. The ability to succeed on social media relies heavily on a good knowledge of algorithms, of tech giants’ internal hires and awareness of features about to drop. But for George MacGill, head of innovation at Media Chain, the secret to hacking your social media success doesn’t come down to having all the answers, but to asking the right questions.

And whether it’s cracking YouTube discoverability, Facebook’s hidden crypto conspiracy or the new app dominating Chinese social media, George explains that once you know where to look, there’s no shift you can’t decode.

Part of George’s role is to predict and prepare for Facebook’s every next move – and one area which the platform is placing focus on this year is Groups. Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to get 1 billion users in Groups by 2020 – roughly half of its entire user base. It’s good news for Facebook’s PR, but bad news for Pages.


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“Zuckerberg doesn’t care about money anymore – he only cares about his reputation. Groups is what he always wanted Facebook to be, as opposed to just ‘tag your mate in this’. But this is bad news for Pages and is why their reach has massively declined. Page reach is currently somewhere between 0.1-2%, but Groups can grow to 10x that – and we’re seeing a massive shift.”

So if Groups is where the potential for growth lies on Facebook, what of Instagram – the behemoth’s new golden child? According to George, it comes down to leveraging a little thing called the curiosity effect.

“Take big meme accounts who make taggable content. They will put their Instagram on private, so if someone who follows it, sees a meme that relates to a friend, then proceeds to tag them in it, if that friend doesn’t follow the page then they won’t be able to see what they’ve been tagged in. Once they’ve already taken the step to follow, the chances they’ll unfollow are extremely slim.”


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However, George stresses that the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter don’t always take kindly to people hacking or manipulating their platforms in this way. He stresses that the best way to grow is to analyse the platform in question, figure out its algorithm and play to its strengths. For YouTube – the platform which has gained notoriety for its impenetrable nature – George insists it boils down to simple search and SEO.

“It’s the hardest one to crack – but there’s a guy called Jarvis Johnson who recently grew his YouTube account to 100k subscribers in a weekend – and that is hard to do. He looked at the algorithm and analysed how YouTubers like Logan and Jake Paul have taken advantage of it.

“Jarvis then made a video criticising another big YouTube channel called Five Minute Crafts and he titled it ‘This is the worst content I’ve ever seen.’ It got 10k views. Then a day later, a different YouTuber made a similar video criticising the same channel – it got a couple million views. So Jarvis took his video down and reuploaded the exact same content, but changed his title to be more similar to the second video. It was along the lines of: ‘Five Minute Crafts is the worst channel on YouTube’ – and it got 1.6 million views in 24 hours. It was the exact same content just with a different title.

“This AB split test proves YouTube is just SEO. Ultimately, great content matters but you’re just surfing algorithms at the end of the day. And your surfboard is your knowledge of these algorithms.”

And why is so difficult to establish yourself on YouTube compared to on other platforms? According to George, it’s because of the typical length of YouTube content. These days, you might scroll through 50 Instagram posts on your ten-minute break but you’ll save one, long YouTube to watch before bed. Because of its length, people only have time for one or two videos per day at most. Which means your chances of being chosen are that much smaller.


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“Youtube is a zero-sum game; there’s only a limited amount of time in the day. YouTube is about depth rather than width, whereas Facebook and Instagram are more about width. What I mean by that is, you want to see lots of little things on Facebook or Instagram, but one or two big things on YouTube, therefore the chances of your content being considered here are so much smaller than they are on other platforms, where people will view hundreds of pieces of content in a day.”

But it’s not just Facebook, Instagram and YouTube which George has cracked the code on. In Episode 013 of the Social Minds podcast, he walks us through Tik Tok, Douyin, IGTV and Stories, along with many more tip bits from behind the scenes of social. Tune in below.



This was taken from Social Minds, the UK’s first dedicated social media marketing podcast, brought to you by Social Chain. With each new episode, we cut through the BS to deliver you hard-hitting truths and unforgiving industry insights – exposing the shocking realities of how social media is affecting us in the here and now. To earn your thought-leader status, subscribe now.

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