21 Things to Do (or Not Do) After a Social Media Algorithm Change
In the marketing world, a change in a social media platform algorithm is a breaking news event.
Brands’ heavy reliance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., as content distribution platforms means even a slight change tightens the social media cuffs around marketers’ hands.
What should you do when your favorite social media platform decides it will deliver content differently? Heed the advice from these 21 experts who are presenting at Content Marketing World 2018.
Be the turtle, not the hare
Often, the initial panic inflates the impact of the change, and making an immediate adjustment in response to the alarm can do more harm than good. By staying steady, and carefully measuring impact, you can make more informed adjustments to your strategy based on real results, not rumors.
Melanie Deziel, founder, StoryFuelPanic inflates the impact of #socialmedia algorithm changes. Measure real results, then adjust, says @mdeziel. Click To Tweet
Scrutinize all the factors
An algorithm could change your success both positively and negatively, but so could many other factors – including type of content, quality of content, or key events. The most important thing to understand is how your social content is performing and what factors can impact its performance.
Amy Higgins, director of content marketing, SojernAlgorithm changes are a factor in #social results – but quality content, key events matter too. @amywhiggins Click To Tweet
A major algorithm change is a perfect time for hypothesis testing – a great use case for Agile. Set up some safe-to-fail experiments and see what’s working and what’s not. An Agile marketing team could devote half (or all) of a sprint to conducting experiments on a single social channel and walk away with a much deeper understanding of how their content needs to adapt.
Andrea Fryrear, president and lead trainer, AgileSherpasUse a #socialmedia change as a good time for hypothesis testing, says @AndreaFryrear. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Grow from the changes
Adapt. For example, when organic reach dropped, we increased frequency. It helped a little. Then we started doing more influencer marketing and collaborative content. That gave us more ways to mention and share. That helped a lot. When social networks started pushing video to the top of streams, we started producing more social video. That helped a ton. It’s 10 times the work but produced 100 times the results.
Andy Crestodina, co-founder, CMO, Orbit MediaWe produced more #social video. It’s 10x the work but produces 100x the results. @crestodina #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Gather, reflect, and possibly pivot
Our amazing social media lead will hold an informational session, and then together we’ll decide how to pivot. It can be painful, but you have to face the change head on. The real takeaway is that it’s crucial in this climate to have diverse methods of reaching your audience through content – SEO, social platforms, SEM, paid media, email, partnerships, etc. – so that your KPIs are not immediately impacted by any shifts a single platform makes.
Margaret Magnarelli, vice president, marketing, MonsterFace painful #socialmedia changes head on, & don’t rely on just one channel, says @mmagnarelli. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Take time to reflect
Watch what happens for the first couple of weeks. Pay attention to what the company itself is saying and then look at the thought leaders who follow that channel carefully. They’ll probably have some data to report back that will give you an indication of how to change course.
Ahava Leibtag, president, Aha Media GroupLook at data from thought leaders of a #socialmedia channel for ideas on how to change course. @ahaval #CMWorld Click To Tweet
You need to regularly pay attention to analytics even if the algorithm is not changing. An important thing is not to panic. I don’t rush into changes because it takes time to understand the effect of the algorithm change. Your analytics will help with this.
Ian Cleary, CEO, RazorSocialPay attention to #socialmedia analytics even if an algorithm isn’t changing, says @iancleary. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Do an A and a B
Keep an eye on your key performance indicators (KPIs) to see how the algorithm impacts your desired actions. Sometimes you need to run some A/B tests to see if favorable changes are being maximized.
Buddy Scalera, content strategist, BuddyScalera.comRun A/B tests to see if you’re maximizing #socialmedia algorithm changes, says @BuddyScalera. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Explore what’s missing
Once you get a handle on what’s changing and why, identify the gaps that now exist in your strategy or where there may not be a one-to-one match with execution, and then adjust accordingly.
Anna Hrach, strategist, Convince and ConvertSee what happens with your #social & identify new gaps in your strategy. @annabananahrach #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Do your research
Reacting to changes as they happen is a sure way to drive yourself crazy. Continue to meet your audience’s needs and do so in a disciplined, sustained way. Don’t go chasing every new idea. Do read the hell out of expert blogs to see how you can tweak what you do over time.
Clare C. McDermott, head of research, Mantis ResearchRead the hell out of expert blogs & see how to tweak strategy over time. @clare_mcd #socialmedia #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Differentiate the changes
When a social network changes their algorithm, it inevitably makes it harder to generate organic eyeballs, but it still doesn’t change the core focus. An algorithm that shifts from one kind of content like text posts to video would require a shift in strategy, but an update that changes what constitutes engagement would just be considered the new normal.
Eli Schwartz, director of organic product, SurveyMonkeyPay most attention to algorithm changes that affect your core focus, says @5le. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Do quantitative and qualitative work
Watch and respond to your audience, not to algorithms. It’s funny how little some algorithm changes can affect your work if you just stay laser focused on what works or doesn’t for your customers. Use qualitative feedback as well as hard data.
Jay Acunzo, founder, Unthinkable MediaEvaluate #socialmedia w/ qualitative feedback, too. It’s all about your audience, says @jayacunzo. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
There is a reason behind an algorithm change that needs to be discovered. Was it because the audience was moving away from the platform and the provider is looking for a way to bring them back? Or maybe it is due to so many marketing messages are saturating the system, they had to block the noise. Whatever it is, you should review your practices to make sure you are not the cause of the change and decide the appropriate course of action to continue to be audience-centric.
Jeff Julian, CEO, Squared DigitalWas it something you said? Find out the reason behind the algorithm change, then adjust if needed. @jjulian Click To Tweet
Take the road less traveled
I immediately think about what can differentiate myself in all the noise. As soon as there is a new change, everybody flocks to doing the same new thing. In reality, the most successful people on social are always thinking about what they can do to be different with new changes in social.
John Hall, co-founder, Influence & Co.Don’t flock to the same thing everybody else is doing in reaction to a #socialmedia change. @johnhall #CMWorld Click To Tweet
If every change to social media algorithms necessitated a review, I’d argue we had the wrong strategy. However, with one of my clients we have been watching Facebook in particular this year following its more recent changes to see which content is more likely to make it into people’s feeds or attract activity.
Jonathan Crossfield, chief consulting editor, Chief Content Officer magazineSee which #content is more likely to make it into people’s feeds or attract activity, says @Kimota. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
A strong social media program should be evaluated regularly to marry in-channel and downstream metrics to overall program/marketing goals. It’s at this time of insight gathering and analysis you would want to tweak your content, cadence, tactics, and targeting to maximize visibility and impact in accordance with the data and any algorithmic updates. This will also help to make sure your program can capitalize on any new channel releases if relevant for the business.
Nicole Martin, vice president, strategy and analytics, PaceMarry in-channel & downstream metrics to overall #marketing goals, says @StrategySavvy. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Go back to the plan
It’s not that easy. And it’s not that hard. We go back to the plan: What was the reason we were distributing to that platform in the first place? What will it take (translation – how much money) to maintain the level of activity required to meet our goals? What’s the next best solution? Then, compare the two. Sometimes, you need to make a subtle shift. Other times, you need to blow it up. Regardless, wear protective goggles.
Ron Tite, founder and CEO, Church+StateGo back to the plan. How much will it cost to meet goals? Do you need to shift or blow things up? @rontite Click To Tweet
Ultimately, all changes to algorithms are designed to make the end-user experience better in some way. My strategy is to consistently deliver a superior end-user experience so I am, in essence, algorithm-proof. This is the strategy of being anti-fragile and being “so great they can’t ignore you,” as Steve Martin is famous for saying. We can’t win the game of chasing algorithms. But we can win the game of creating incredible content.
Nichole Kelly, chief consciousness officer, The Consciousness Marketing InstituteYou can’t win chasing algorithms. You can win the game of incredible content, says @Nichole_Kelly. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Keep your eye on the prize
Developing a strategy that keeps the big picture and vision of what you are trying to do and where you are trying to go is key. Keeping an ongoing conversation with your audience about what they are looking for can help avoid the juggling act that social media can become.
John Bucher, strategist, author, Storytelling for Virtual RealityAvoid the #socialmedia juggling act, have an ongoing conversation w/ your audience, says @johnkbucher. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
I think if you’re playing algorithms, you’re playing the wrong game.
Jonathan Kranz, principal, Kranz CommunicationsDon’t play the game of changing #socialmedia algorithms, says @jonkranz. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Trying to keep up with the constant social media changes increasingly feels like attempting to outrun a train, which is why I’ve given up on it. Instead, my first instinct with every new algorithm tweak is to work even harder on our SEO, while being fully aware that search, too, is nothing but a big algorithm. The only viable alternative to all of it is continuously building valuable relationships with our audiences on our own platform that will enable us to reach them under the terms that we mutually agreed on. Admittedly, GDPR made everyone reevaluate those relationships recently, but I believe that in the long run it will help to strengthen them too.Don’t chase #socialmedia, work harder on #SEO & relationships, says @AlenkaBester. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Alenka Bester, head of digital content marketing, Zavarovalnica Triglav
Get more great tips and insight from these and dozens of other presenters at Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today using code BLOG100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute