Algorithm Changes: Changing Your Strategy

Algorithm changes are coming...don't get stuck without a strategy for them!

I’m sure you’ve already heard of the algorithm changes coming to Instagram and Twitter. But what do these changes mean, how do they work, and how should you change your social media strategy to compensate? That’s what we’re here to talk about!

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm in general is a series of components that pull together to solve a problem.

More specifically, within social media, an algorithm is known to take several different pieces of information into account that will lead to determining what each user is most interested in. Based on those results, the algorithm reorders what you see in your News Feed so you will (ideally) get the most enjoyment out of perusing the content of others.

In even simpler terms, the purpose of an algorithm is to bring the most enjoyable content to the top of your Feed.

What Goes into an Algorithm?

The platforms all seem to have a similar strategy in their algorithm changes. They pull in different components from two specific areas:

  1. Your behavior on their platform
  2. The results of each particular post to determine if it’s worthy of your sight

Being owned by Facebook–the social media algorithm pioneer– Instagram seems to feel very confident they know what we’d like to see.

Why do algorithms exist & how should I adjust my strategy? Click To Tweet

On March 15, 2016, Instagram said in a blog post:

“To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”

Hm… I’m wondering how they determine what we care about most, aren’t you?

Well, they do give us a few hints. They mention that the three components they are looking at to determine whether or not you’ll love the content from those you follow:

  1. The likelihood you’ll enjoy the content
  2. Your relationship with the user who posted it
  3. The timeliness of the post

Let’s break those three pieces down just a bit more…

1. The likelihood you’ll enjoy the content

We can assume the information they use to determine what content you enjoy includes data from the posts you’ve ‘liked’, clicked, shared or commented on.

That should bring a bit of pause before putting on the role of the ‘sympathetic liker’. Think twice before clicking ‘like’ (or its equivalent) on posts just to appease someone or pump up their ego. This could change the results you start to see in your customized, algorithm-filled News Feed.

Take pause before putting on the role of the 'sympathetic liker'. Click To Tweet

2. Your relationship with the user who posted it

Facebook, and now potentially Instagram and Twitter, are looking to see how fond you are of a user before throwing all of their content into your Feed. Do you follow them? Do you engage with their content? Do you tag them?

If isolating this piece of the algorithm calculation, it sounds like these social platforms are doing best to tailor these algorithm changes based on a categorization of best friends first, acquaintances last.

3. The timeliness of the post

This one’s simple – was it posted recently?

How to Adjust to the Algorithm Changes

You might be thinking, ‘I have a new profile or page with a low number of followers and not a ton of engagement. How am I going to defeat this algorithm so I’m seen by those followers? Isn’t it a Catch 22?’

I get you! It might seem like a bit of a mission impossible. How can you get more engagement on your posts if they aren’t being seen by your followers, and how can you get them seen by your followers if you don’t have a history of much engagement?

That’s a tricky one.

There are a few techniques you can put into play to get our posts a bit more visibility under these new algorithm changes:

1. Post what your platform favors

“You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in other people than you can in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

– Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

If you play nice with your social platforms, they will play nice with you. It’s important to keep an eye out for what they favor. When you publish the content they prefer, they will show your posts to other users.

What each social platform favors isn’t completely clear just yet for Twitter and Instagram, but we can make a guess that it will be similar to that of Facebook.

Facebook makes it pretty clear what they favor in each season. Right now, they’re 100% in favor of Facebook Live. If you’re not familiar yet, Facebook Live is the live-streaming video they just made available to every profile and page via their iOS app.

Find the recipe. If Facebook loves Facebook Live, get schooled up on it and get moving on posting some videos.

A quick change from your part can have quick results. This is how we all best succeed in social media – ebbing and flowing.

Quick adaptations in your social media strategy can lead to quick results! Click To Tweet

As a hint, Instagram recently increased the video time limit from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. Think they might be encouraging video, as well? Psst… they’re also owned by Facebook, the lover of all things video, remember?

Lastly, Twitter owns Periscope. In January, they pulled Periscope videos (a.k.a. ‘scopes’) directly into tweets so users don’t have to leave Twitter to see scopes. Twitter isn’t quite as advanced on their algorithm just yet, but chances are they appreciate their Periscope users.

2. Stay Consistent

Posting consistently shows a positive pattern. When the social platform knows they can rely on you to ‘show up’, they will be more likely to ‘show up’ for you by way of showing your posts to others.

3. Ask for the Follow

social media algorithm changes

Social platforms want to be sure your followers are interested in the content you’re sharing. If your users are happy with what they see, they will pop on more often. More active users equal more potential revenue for them, because companies who have the money to spend will want to know they have a great number of consumers to reach.

The more followers, and on Facebook, the more folks who want to see your posts first, the higher likelihood your posts will be pushed into your fans’ feeds. Even deeper than that, if you have a lot of fans who like to see your content first or who visit your page on their own time, it’s likely the algorithm will pick up the fact that you’re loved and will want to push your content out to fans in a similar demographic to those who have a special affinity to you.

This doesn’t mean you need to shout, ‘I want you to follow me!’ from the rooftops. Instead, perhaps let your followers know what they’ll get by following you or clicking ‘See first’ on your page.

Maybe you have a weekly surprise deal that comes out on a random day, or maybe you have an opportunity coming soon. Let your fans know about these things!

P.S. If you’re doing this on Facebook, it might not hurt to also let them know on your Facebook personal profile in case they don’t see your Facebook page’s post.

4. Encourage Engagement

Algorithm changes come with behavior changes. In order to get more engagement, sometimes you need to creatively encourage it.

Many algorithms don’t approve of asking for a like, share or a follow. In fact, they might even suppress the view of  your post if it includes the words: ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’.

Instead, let’s be a little creative:

  • Ask a question! People love to share their opinions.
  • Use alternative words: ‘Show us love!’, ‘Give me a thumbs-up!’, ‘Write us a note!’
  • Ask them to tag a friend without asking them to tag a friend: Perhaps say, ‘Do you have a friend who would resonate with this?’ or, ‘Who’s your accountability partner for this?’

That extra engagement will show the algorithm that your content is desired. With consistent engagement, the theory is that the platform will share more and more of your posts to users.

What are your plans?

Let’s put our brains together to conquer these algorithm changes!

If you have mastered these algorithm changes, what are your tips? If not, what do you plan to do to increase the number of eyes on your posts? Send us a tweet or an email with your thoughts!

Thoughts or Questions?

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