In the digital marketing world, a change in a social media platform algorithm is an important news event.
Brands’ nowadays rely heavily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., as content distribution platforms.
What should you do when your favorite social media platform decides it will deliver content differently?
Take the advice from the below 21 experts who are presenting at Content Marketing World 2018.
Be the turtle, not the hare
Often, the primary panic raises 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, one can make more informed adjustments to your strategy based on real results, not rumors.
Scrutinize all the factors
An algorithm could change your success both positively and negatively, but so could many other factors including the 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.
A vital algorithm change is a perfect time for hypothesis testing.
Set up some safe-to-fail experiments and see what’s working and what’s not.
An Agile marketing team could devote half of a race to conducting experiments on a single social channel and walk away with a much deeper understanding of how their content needs to adapt itself.
Grow from the changes
For example, when organic reach dropped, we increased frequency.
Then we started doing more influencer marketing and collaborative content.
When social networks started pushing videos to the top of the streams, we started producing the more social video.
That helped a ton.
Gather, reflect, and possibly pivot
Our amazing social media guide will hold an informational session, and then together we’ll decide how to pivot.
It can be unpleasant, but you have to face the change head-on.
The real takeaway is that it’s crucial in this spirit to have diverse methods of reaching your audience through content SEO, social platforms, SEM, paid media, email, partnerships, etc. so that your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s are not immediately impacted by any shifts a single platform makes.
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.
You need to on a regular basis pay attention to analytics even if the algorithm is not changing.
An important thing is not to panic.
Do an A/B testing
Observe your key performance indicators (KPIs) to see how the algorithm impacts your desired actions.
Most of the times you need to run some A/B tests to see if favourable changes are being maximized.
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.
Do your research
Reaction 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 fine print of expert blogs to see how you can adjust what you do over time.
Differentiate the changes
When a social network changes their algorithm, it automatically makes it harder to generate organic traffic, but it still doesn’t change the main focus.
An algorithm that keeps shifting 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 norm.
Do quantitative and qualitative work
Watch and respond to your audience, not to algorithms.
Use qualitative feedback as well as hard data.
There is a particular 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 customer-centric.
Take the road less traveled
As soon as there is a new change, everybody assembles 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.
If every change to social media algorithms constrained a review, the experts argue we had the wrong strategy.
However, with one of their clients they 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.
A strong social media program should be evaluated regularly to combine in-channel and downstream metrics to overall program/marketing goals.
This will help to make sure your program can capitalize on any new channel releases if relevant for the business.
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 to maintain the level of activity required to meet our goals?
What’s the next best solution?
Ultimately, all changes to algorithms are designed to make the end-user experience better in some way.
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 a current conversation with your audience about what they are looking for can help avoid the juggling act that social media can become.
If the marketer is playing algorithms, then they are playing the wrong game.
Trying to keep up with the constant social media changes increasingly feels like attempting to outrun a train, which is why most of the companies have given up on it.
The only workable 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.
Literally, GDPR made everyone reevaluate those relationships recently, but I believe that in the long run it will help to strengthen them too.