The algorithm is an audience

Getting through the gatekeeper.

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When we create content for anything, a communicator considers the audience. Who is going to read this piece or watch this video? What are they hoping to get out of it? What do we want them to do?

When we create for online and social, we consider our target audiences. But there’s another audience we often overlook: the algorithm.

The algorithm isn’t a person, but it is an audience. The algorithm determines what our primary audience sees online and on social media. The role the algorithm plays is no different than an administrative assistant who’s sorting the mail — a gatekeeper — and we need to treat it the same way. Think about what the algorithm needs to see to get the message through to our intended target. List it as a secondary audience on our creative briefs. We need to understand how the algorithm “thinks” as much as we need to understand our primary target audience.

Because a message that is well-crafted for your primary target audience is wasted if they never see it.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, grad student, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He recently finished a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on Instagram and Micro.Blog.

Bob Wertz

Husband, Dad (x3), Creative Director at @UofSC, Type Designer, Teacher and Volunteer. Blogs at Sketchbook B and Wanted in Columbia.