Moving the goal posts

In many ways, social media is a marketer’s dream. It’s a space where millions of customers and potential customers gather together, many with interest in your brand and your message.

But it’s getting harder and harder to reach those consumers.

Social media channels in recent years have introduced algorithms that determine which posts to prioritize and which to push aside.

Digital marketers often have suffered as these channels move the goal posts, changing the rules quickly, often without warning or explanation.

Algorithms can be challenging, but they don’t have to freeze your digital marketing efforts.
It might take time and trial-and-error to find the best way to work the algorithms, but there still are ways to get your message to your target audience.

Social media algorithms are computer code that sort posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy instead of publish time. The algorithms determine who sees which messages and how prominently they are displayed.

Most social media feeds initially displayed posts in chronological order, with the most recent posts at the top. But Facebook, Twitter and other channels increasingly are turning to algorithms designed to more prominently display posts that their algorithms think viewers are most likely to pay attention to. They also increasingly grant greater access to paid posts.

The use of algorithms has grown at least in part because of the sheer volume of posts and data added to social media platforms every day. For users who follow hundreds or thousands of accounts, it’s impossible to see every post. So algorithms have been created to “learn” about each user and move to the top of the list, posts they’re most likely interested in.

In 2018, Facebook changed its algorithms, promoting “meaningful conversation” over news and advertising. Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the change was designed to promote organic content and reduce the prominence of brands on the site. “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the group of people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. … But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that led us to connect more with each other.”

Other channels have followed similar paths, introducing their own algorithms.

While algorithms vary by channel and over time, there are similarities. In general, the algorithms are designed to promote interest (how much the algorithm thinks a consumer wants to see a post), timeliness (promoting recent posts over older posts) and relationship (posts that users interact with more tend to be displayed more often).

Here are 12 tips for boosting your posts’ prominence with social media algorithms.

Be real. Authenticity is essential. People want to connect with brands they’re interested in, but they don’t want constant commercials.

Post regularly and often. Posting around the same time and day of the week can help boost interaction.

Be engaging. Algorithms encourage “meaningful conversations,” including comments or likes, reacting to a post someone else has shared, and multiple people reacting to a post someone else has shared. So write your posts in a way that encourages people to comment, respond to questions, or otherwise interact with your post and brand.

Return the favor. Like, favorite and comment on other people’s messages.

Tag, you’re it. Tagging other accounts can encourage them to look at and share your messages. If you mention a customer, partner or other brand, tag their accounts in your post.

Use hashtags. People often use hashtag terms to search for posts and brands. Make it easy for them.

Be interesting to your audience. Appeal to their interests and passions.

Post directly in the app. Algorithms encourage organic posts. Upload images and videos to your post. Don’t just link posts to YouTube or some other site or channel. Facebook doesn’t like sending users away from their site – especially from organic posts.

Encourage friendly support. Encourage employees, existing customers and other fans to promote your content. Social media algorithms reward content from friends and family over businesses. So your employees and fans’ posts will be prioritized among their friends and family.

Be original. Don’t post the same message with the same wording on multiple platforms. Each channel has its own audience and its own feel. Write your posts accordingly.

Use video. Short videos — especially live videos — can catch viewers’ attention and lead them to interact with your post and your brand.

Consider paying for advertising. The fastest and easiest way to increase your reach is to pay for it.

If you’d like a learn more about how social media marketing and advertising can help build your brand and drive a new source of targeted prospects to your website, feel free to contact us here at AdEdge at (203) 682-4585 or email us at [email protected].