When it comes to social media marketing, the only real constant is change. In many ways, we as users are in the middle of an arms race as social networking platforms try to capture our attention. They do this either by deploying a new functionality or refreshing their look and feel to stay relevant.
Another of the ways that social networking sites change is by updating their algorithms. Social networks use algorithms in all sorts of different ways. One of them is to make friend suggestions and “you might also like” recommendations.
One of the most vital of all algorithms for marketers is the one that’s used to generate news feeds. After all, it’s this algorithm that determines whether marketing messages ever actually reach people, and user-generated content and content curation tools have historically played an important role in helping brands to rank in the news feed. It helps them to get more interaction and engagement for a start.
It’s important for us to keep an eye on these algorithms. They have a huge impact on the content distribution strategy we use and the effectiveness of our content distribution tools. This seems particularly relevant at the moment thanks to the recently announced changes to Facebook’s news feed.
About Facebook’s algorithm changes
Possibly the most telling thing about Facebook’s algorithm change is that the company itself admits that it expects it to reduce the amount of time people spend on the site. Their goal is to increase the overall “wellbeing” of their users. As explained by TechCrunch, the change will mean that posts from friends and posts that encourage conversation between community groups will be prioritised ahead of public content and posts from news publishers.
This might sound counterintuitive, but it does make sense when you think about it. Their goal as a social network is to foster connectivity between people. With the rise of fake news and an increasingly uneasy political landscape, there was a real risk that people would find Facebook usage stressful. It was heading away from being a place to stay in touch with friends and family. It was rather becoming a political and consumerist battleground.
Research has shown that endlessly scrolling the news feed can be bad for our mental health, while interacting with friends and contributing to discussions can be good for it. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg explained, “Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
Adam Mossieri, the company’s VP of News Feed, added, “I expect that the amount of distribution for publishers will go down because a lot of publisher content is just passively consumed and not talked about. Overall time on Facebook will decrease, but we think this is the right thing to do.”
The reason that we explained all this is that you need to understand what Facebook is trying to achieve so that you can align your content distribution strategy with what they’re prioritising. It’s pretty much the same concept as SEO strategies working within search engine guidelines instead of trying to trick them to pick up short-term number one rankings.
When it comes to remaining relevant as a brand in this new era for Facebook marketing, the key is to facilitate these connections between Facebook users and their friends and acquaintances. You can do this by encouraging them to create and share branded user-generated content, and you can also try to start conversations that catch people’s attention and encourage them to participate.
Content curation tools save the day
At Miappi, we’ve found time and time again that user generated content is just what a brand needs to break through the noise, and it seems likely that these new algorithm changes are going to make UGC even more relevant in the years to come. Networks like Facebook are actively pushing brands towards the use of content curation tools like Miappi which help them to find the most engaging content and to distribute it as widely as possible. In Facebook’s case, the content distribution becomes even easier when user generated content collected by the brand are redistributed in the platform itself in the form of paid advertising!
The goal here is twofold. Sure, boosting your sales, increasing your social media following and engagement and driving traffic through to your website is all well and good, but you also want to create conversations and a two way dialogue, whether you’re running campaigns within Facebook itself or whether you’re taking the UGC that’s already being created and building it into your website, event or even email marketing.
Facebook’s recent algorithm changes don’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to forget everything you know about social media and content marketing, but they do mean that you’ll need to rethink the mentality with which you approach it. It’s going to be difficult for brands to stay successful on Facebook unless they move with the times and adapt their approach to fit in with the site’s new guidelines. But at the same time, we already need to adapt our approach. After all, Facebook is only acting upon what they know from the research.
Social networking sites are never going to stop updating their algorithms. After all, they can test and test over time and keep on making tweaks to their websites to improve their stickiness until we’re literally so addicted to social networking that we’re glued to our phones. Although you could also argue that this has already happened.
Still, the good news is that if you continue to create content that’s relevant then you’re going to continue to do well on social networking sites. These algorithm changes aren’t targeting brands because they’re brands – they’re targeting brands because people aren’t interacting with their content.
That’s why user-generated content is the solution. With UGC, you get the best of both worlds, and you can even put a little ad budget behind it to give it that extra little push and to guarantee that your posts are making their way into people’s news feeds. And once you’re able to reach people in their news feeds, you can start to build up organic engagement that will continue to pay dividends in the months and years to come.