Google are the kings of updating their algorithms and moving the online marketing goalposts. More recently, the largest social media platforms have been releasing updates that affect all of our news feeds on a more frequent basis. Twitter, Facebook & Instagram have all recently launched new algorithms that change the way that content is displayed in our feeds.
So What Has Changed Recently?
Instagram announced the change to their feeds in June which was met with a mixed reaction (just look at the comments on the blog post). Interestingly, Instagram claims that on average, users miss 70 percent of their feeds. When you think about your own feeds whether you follow 100 people or 1,000, it can be very easy to consistently miss posts from the people or brands you are most interested in on a regular basis.
Facebook are monitoring and tracking (to an alarmingly high degree) the types of posts, content, people and pages you interact with the most and then serving you with the content it deems most relevant. In much the same way that Instagram has above, Facebook is re-focussing its attention on bringing posts from friends and family first. Although this will make it harder for brands to reach users through organic means, users will start to see a lot more content based on what their friends are sharing.
Earlier in 2016 (check out this article from The Next Web), Twitter changed its algorithms in much the same way as we have mentioned with Instagram and Facebook. Building on from the ‘while you were away feature’, tweets from profiles that Twitter thinks you will be interested are now situated at the top of your news feed. Users were given the option to opt-out rather than opt-in which certainly didn’t go down well with some Twitter users. As we find with most algorithm updates from the big social media players, everyone comes to accept the changes and carry on using the social media channels as if nothing had ever changed. Well okay, some are still grumbling.
So what does it all mean for your brand on social?
It is still early days to understand the full implications of the changes if any at all. One thing for sure is that the organic reach of social media posts is one of the hardest nuts to crack. On Facebook for example, unless you have hundreds of thousands of likes or followers it is going to be very difficult to get more people to see your content. This leads us nicely on to content. Content has been heralded as the king for several years, although context tried to muscle its way in in recent years. The quality of your content will always remain crucial in every industry. With the news feeds now placing a greater emphasis on displaying posts from your friends and families the main goal on social media now has to be getting a like, share or retweet. This level of endorsement from a customer will increase the likelihood of their friends seeing it via the same social media channel. The more likes, shares and retweets you get the more page likes, followers and subscribers you will get. And then the cycle begins again.
When you’re as big as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter it is important to be seen as progressive and always developing. These changes will ultimately be forgotten about by the majority of users in a short period of time. Now is the time to revisit your social media & content strategies to explore the different ways that you can produce content that can be seen in new and existing users feeds. My guess would be that a joint approach of paid and organic social media campaigns will help to achieve the biggest results. All of a sudden follower numbers seem quite important again.