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I refuse to be held hostage to the YouTube algorithm…for now

I refuse to be held hostage to the YouTube algorithm…for now

Taking that little extra time to research and plan your social media content pays off in the end

I consume a lot of social media these days because I want to know what’s happening around me and so I can keep on top of trends and updates in my field.

But I also watch to see what other creators are up to and how they’re presenting Ho Chi Minh City, its food and its people to their followers.

Because a goal of mine now is to grow my YouTube channel, I’ve been taking a keen interest in what these ‘fly in-fly out’ YouTubers are highlighting about our great city.

Most of them are on a tight budget…and because of algorithm anxiety, are keen to move on to the next destination…

And it may come as no surprise that most of them are serving up the same observations as the rest about the traffic (motorbikes), weather (it’s hot) and food (Saigon’s best banh mi).

Which is fine, I get it.

Most of them are on a tight budget, they stay in town for just one or two nights, and because of algorithm anxiety, are keen to move on to the next destination to bring us their next piece of exciting content.

However, with such a tight schedule, something has got to give, and usually, that’s proper research.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a video pop up on my feed this month claiming Banh Mi Huynh Hoa as the best you’ll get in Saigon.

It may be true, I don’t know, it is a cracker and deserves to be in the running.

Dare I say it might be the best?!

But there must be hundreds, if not, thousands of banh mi shops and stands in Ho Chi Minh City of various tastes, sizes and prices that could throw their nonla into the ring.

But Huynh Hoa (colloquially known as ‘the lesbian banh mi‘) gets all the love, with the reason being, one may conclude, that it’s low hanging fruit (The Lunch Lady comes to mind).

The thing is, there’s an equally good one at about the same price just a 15 minute walk away called Banh Mi Ba Huynh.

No one seems to cover it; at least, it doesn’t show up on my feed.

You really should give it a try next time you’re in the area to see what I mean, and hey, even share a pic of it in The Bureau Asia Group if you like.

Which brings me to my latest video.

For a number of reasons I haven’t been able to travel as much as I would’ve liked so far this year, but there’s an upside to it.

It’s forced me to look closer to home for things to feature in my content; things that I’ve ignored or simply hadn’t opened my eyes to until now.

It’s taught me that I don’t need to travel far and wide for an interesting story and potentially greater views. It’s true that often the best stories are right at your doorstep.

Take the bun bo Hue I feature in the video above. It quickly became apparent after a few visits that Phuong Linh was serving up something special.

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I got into the habit of asking other diners what they thought of her bowls of Hue’s finest noodle soup, and overwhelmingly, the response was always that it’s the best around.

It had only taken me about three years to find it!

But thanks to a number of reasons, including researching and planning in advance, I think my video has turned out much better than if I’d just lobbed up and started filming.

From memory, I think I filmed and ate at Phuong Linh’s on three occasions before I was happy with what I’d shot.

I understand that this approach isn’t always practical, especially on trips out of the city or abroad, but given that Phuong Linh’s is walkable from my apartment, I thought the best way to do it justice was to take my time, get to know Phuong Linh a little bit, and, probably most importantly, actually eat her specialty more than once over a period of time.

While this strategy will limit me to publishing just two or three long-version videos per month, it means (I hope) that I won’t be held hostage to that darn algorithm and actually be able to enjoy the process of bringing stories like this to you in a more accurate and engaging way than what itinerant YouTubers seem to be dishing up.

Follow me on Instagram @mattcowanasia

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