Social media marketers need to be as adaptive as chameleons in today’s cyber landscape. Our favorite websites throw us curve balls by constantly changing their algorithms and layouts. As such, we need to continuously tweak our strategies. Yet how can you compete with the inner-workings of a huge website such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?
One of the more significant algorithm changes of late has been Instagram’s switch up. They had always ordered posts in a time-linear fashion, placing the most recent items first and older posts would be further down the line. Now, Instagram seems to be taking advice from its parent company, Facebook. Their new algorithm has the website trying to predict users’ potential interest in each post. There are several variables ranging from the person who posted it, subject manner, and the amount of engagement the post already has. No matter how you look at it, it is a new challenge for marketers, like all social media algorithms.
The first step of adapting to algorithms is to understand what they are intended to do. Like Instagram, Facebook’s current algorithm is meant to deliver quality posts to the user in an intuitive way, even if they aren’t frequent users. It delivers more posts from whom you engage with the most. You will notice this when you like or comment on an update from someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Soon, you will see their posts more often in your timeline and once you continue to like them, Facebook will think these kinds of posts are exactly what you want. Seems user friendly, right? This, however, doesn’t make it easy for social media marketers when they are trying to get the word out to new audiences. Now, users do have the option to switch off these algorithms. For instance, Twitter has a handy pre-checked box that says “Show me the best tweets first”. If one unchecks that, they are back to the old-fashioned type of news feed. However, you in no way can expect users to uncheck that box. You have to be proactive!
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have an answer to the outreach problem they have presented. Using hashtags and keywords will save you from being lost in the updated news feeds. Yes, it seems like hashtags may be a common saving grace, but it is one of the most effective tactics to reach audiences aside from utilizing advertising services. This way, your content will come up when a user searches for the hashtag’s subject manner. Hopefully, they will follow your trail of breadcrumbs back to your profile and you will be set.
For Instagram, one of the biggest ways to stay on your followers’ screens is to request they “turn on notifications.” If people choose to receive notifications from your account, Instagram’s algorithm will work in your favor and you will begin to take notice. For Facebook, engagement is key. If you want your audience to continue to see your posts, (and of course, you do) promote commenting, liking, and sharing. You will start to notice the tides turning in your favor, but you need your followers’ cooperation.
As you can see, algorithms can be tricky. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as everyday we have to study the workings of social media to see how we can have an advantage. In the future, we are going to see more restrictive algorithms and it is important to have an expert on your team for when the time comes.
What do you think of algorithms? How do you adapt to them? Comment below!