New Social Media Algorithm Changes and How to Deal

TeamJEMSU, March 21, 2018

Every now and then, social media platforms change their algorithms to “improve the user experience” (read: to make you pay for ads). And every time these changes happen, we secretly panic a little before we get it together and strategize ways to “deal” with these changes that would otherwise inevitably hurt our clients’ social media reach. And if you’re reading this wondering what we’re talking about, chances are you’re either not a social media marketer, or have been living under a rock. Either way, we’re here to break this down for you.

Facebook’s Algorithm Change

Whether or not we believe Facebook’s reasoning for the algorithm change isn’t important (spoiler alert: we don’t), and we’ll still go over the gist of it: In an attempt to be more convenient and less irritating for users, Facebook’s new algorithm will prioritize posts from family and friends over posts from third-party entities.

So, what does this mean? The new algorithm gives prominence to posts from your Facebook friends, and demotes posts from brand pages, thereby reducing businesses’ post visibility.

Is this a death sentence for organic posting? Kind of, if you aren’t focusing on what Facebook is now measuring to determine relevance. To be recognized and promoted to prime time News Feed, posts now need to receive a substantial amount of reactions, shares (that create conversation), and comments. So long are the days when clicks and views counted toward your reach. Now, comments are seen as the highest form of engagement – but don’t bait people into commenting! Facebook is penalizing any posts that ask users to comment by demoting them in News Feed. We’ll tell you what you CAN do later. But first, let’s talk about Instagram’s changes.

Instagram’s New Algorithm

Instagram has completely ignored our pleas to bring back the chronological news feed (you know, the reason it was ever called Instagram). Instead, the social network is now prioritizing posts in your news feed based on relevancy, which is measured by the amount of interactions you’ve had with the accounts you are following. For instance, the more you engage with @cuteemergency’s profile via views, comments, likes or time spent on posts, the more relevant the page becomes to your feed.

So, how does that negatively impact brands? Small businesses and artists that don’t have large followings are measured with the same yardstick as influencer and big brand accounts with 100,000+ followers. Since these small businesses receive lesser overall engagement compared to accounts with large followings, you are more likely to repeatedly see big account posts on your feed, even if you prefer seeing what the boutique gym or coffee shop down the street are up to.

Adjusting Your Social Media Strategy

Although things look bleak, brands still have a chance to get their posts viewed by followers. Here are some tactics to keep your content visible in news feeds.

  • Create content for the people.

Brands must share content that will create enough emotion to get users to take an action. For instance, a great way to create conversation is via Facebook and Instagram Live and Stories, a sure way to get more views and comments! Or post relatable content to instigate a conversation, similar to what you would do in a Facebook Group, or even your own personal profile. What you shouldn’t do is share sales-y, self-promotional posts that don’t spark two-way conversations. For business owners, this is hard. But trust us, if you take one thing away from this post, make it this: Post for your audience, not for your brand.

  • Choose your mediums wisely.

Videos, whether they’re live-streamed or pre-produced, have always been at the top of any Facebook user’s News Feed. Choosing to produce short videos may help you increase your reach on Instagram as well, since time spent on posts is measured. Of course, your mileage may vary, so always monitor your numbers.

  • Connect people through groups.

Facebook groups are a great way to bring like-minded people together. When you create groups, you give users the opportunity to connect with peers and have private, meaningful conversations. In a group, there is a greater chance of your posts being better received than in public news feeds, thereby increasing rating and visibility.

  •   Post at the right time.

When posting, keep track of the times you receive your highest engagement. If your active followers are online at 7 in the evening, publish your posts then. For Facebook, that’s a sure way to increase post interaction. Even more importantly for Instagram, we found that posts that have received immediate engagement have the highest reach, making us believe that Instagram is looking at how fast users are engaging as a factor.

  • Ask those connected to your organization to help.

It all starts with your own connections. Ask your colleagues, partners and other industry friends you trust to engage with your Instagram and Facebook posts. This will get enough conversation on your page to increase your reach, which in turn will eventually increase your visibility to a new audience.

  • Invite conversation.

Unlike Facebook, Instagram will not penalize you for including posts that ask users to interact. Giveaways that encourage users to comment on your posts still yield great results. Or even better, ask users to DM you for a link. And when they do, create conversation to build relationships and keep them coming back. Just make sure to provide an incentive that your audience is interested in!

Bottom line, in order to beat the changes organically, you must know and understand your audience on a deep level, and tailor your content to spark enough attention from them that they will organically engage in conversations.

If you have any questions, our social media team has spent endless hours researching the changes and brainstorming tactics so that our clients’ social media pages don’t suffer. If you’re a client of ours, we encourage you to talk to your business analyst about restructuring your social media strategy. And even if you’re not, ask us for help! We’d love to talk to you.