Building an active and engaged following on social media is no easy feat, especially with the ever-evolving algorithms on Facebook, Instagram and the like, making it increasingly difficult for marketers and businesses to reach customers organically through social networks.
Long gone are the days when a business could post a few updates a day, or week, and garner considerable web traffic and post engagement – the slow decline of organic reach, which began as early as 2014, has continuously restricted post exposure. And with more and more algorithms and algorithm refinements coming through regularly, this is now the new norm. You either work with the systems to maximize performance, or you watch your social referral traffic continue to decline at a steady rate.
So how can you work with the algorithms – what are the things you can do to ensure that you get the best performance on social platforms, despite ongoing distribution shifts?
In this post, we’ll take a look at the ways social media algorithms have changed the way businesses need to post, and look at some tried-and-true content ideas you can use to create a diverse, valuable social media feed that continues to drive engagement and traffic to your site.
How Social Media Algorithms Have Changed The Game and How to Adapt
In order to create a diverse social media feed that’ll actually get seen, you need to first have an understanding of the basics of how platform algorithms work, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Here are some insights into what we know about the various algorithms at play.
Earlier this year, Facebook’s algorithm was given a significant update which aimed to reinforce the platform’s commitment to facilitating meaningful communication between friends and family.
“You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Mark Zuckerberg announced this year. “The public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Essentially, Facebook prioritizes content that it deems “relevant, valuable, and interesting” to users, with general engagement – and now “meaningful interactions” – as drivers.
In a private Facebook webinar following the update, Facebook noted, specifically, that the new algorithm would prioritize content which:
Sparks engagement between people – for example, a person commenting or like another person’s photo or update
Boosts engagement on publisher posts – publisher content that elicits a reaction from friends when shared
Triggers engagement between users within the comments, both on videos and publisher posts
Is shared over Facebook Messenger to start a conversation with a group of friends
Facebook considers shares and comments to be “active” engagements, which means the more your posts inspire discussion, the more Facebook will consider them “meaningful”, and thus, prioritize them in feeds.
Instagram is Facebook-owned, and as such, it’s fairly safe to assume its algorithm is pretty similar to Facebook’s.
As a photo-based, mobile-first platform, Instagram has said it prioritizes the following factors:
Interest – If users have interacted with similar content/users in the past
Timeliness – The age of a post is a relevant factor in how high Instagram will show it in user feeds
Relationship – How much a user has engaged with your profile, via in-stream or messages, previously
Twitter paints itself as a much more real-time, in-the-moment social media feed – which is why the platform saw such significant pushback when it switched to an algorithm.
Since making the switch, Twitter has been working to balance crucial timeliness with serving the most-relevant content to its users.
Twitter’s system prioritizes:
Engagement – Retweets, likes and replies on individual tweets
The tweet’s author and relationship – How much a user has interacted with the tweet author in the past
Your presence – How often you use Twitter, and how much engagement you receive
Now that we have a better understanding of the key elements each platform is looking to enhance, let’s now look at some proven ways to boost the performance of your posts, in accordance with algorithm sorting.