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The Changing Dynamic Of Social Media (and How To Adapt)

By Emma GrayComments

The Changing Dynamic of Social Media (and How to Adapt)

Social media has reached a tipping point.

Branded content has more real estate on our screens than ever before, while complex and mysterious algorithms dictate what we see and when we see it. Just how this has impacted on the user experience is up for debate, however, there’s no argument that top dog Facebook have a bit of a problem on their hands.

The commoditisation of our News Feeds is at least partly to blame for waning consumer trust, and slowing growth—that’s according to Mark Zuckerberg anyway. It’s why Facebook’s founder and CEO has pledged to Make Facebook Personal Again.

Change is coming across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and brands must be ready to adapt and stay relevant. From tweaks and refreshes, to complete overhauls of existing algorithms, the challenge is in how we interpret and react to these adjustments.  

Let's take a look at how each channel is changing and, most importantly, how you can recalibrate your approach to move with the times.

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FACEBOOK - authenticity vs ads

Facebook changed the way people connect with each other.

We use the network to easily communicate with people in near and faraway places. Albeit, the platform has had it’s fair share of bad publicity recently. Facebook continues to play a massive role in brand/consumer relationships.

Take Nike for example, they have amassed a huge 32 million fans (roughly the same as the entire population of Malaysia). In 2017 Nike ranked number one against other fashion brands for the most amount of followers across all channels. And their followers eat up the content they produce - usually new products, influencers and charitable work.

Although users are interacting with branded content, clickbait has been taking over newsfeeds. We’ve all been a victim of the drab ‘tag a mate who…’ posts. And now organic posts from real friends and family are drowning in a sea of content like this and fake news.

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Facebook is now reimagining the algorithm. The update will bring the platform back to its former self, giving people greater access to posts from family and friends, and demoting those slutty posts that beg for engagement to the bottom of the pile.

Facebook’s goal in this mission is to ‘reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational or misleading in order to promote more authentic conversations.’  The company states that pages that repeatedly post engagement bait will see significant drops in reach. I’m not saying that all your content is spammy, but with these changes coming in you’re at risk of being shunted unless your posts appear to be genuine.

Here are some things you can do to overcome Facebook’s algorithm changes...

  1. Use video and Live. It’s time to jump on the bandwagon, it’s no secret that consumers would rather watch a video these days than read about it (4x as many in fact). AND video posts receive 135% greater organic reach than photos, so get recording...
  1. Starting discussions. Bring forth opinions, insights and personality into the comments section on your posts.  Facebook groups are also a great place to start a discussion and build an industry-specific community. Group topics allow you to organise conversations, making it easier to find important posts and stay engaged with members.
  1. Embrace Pay 2 Play. There’s no stopping the power of Facebook ads. 93% of marketers are already on board, the Business Platform offers many creative options to get your message across. The days of organic reach are behind us, but remember to keep it classy or you’ll just end up stepping on people’s toes.

INSTAGRAM - B2C doesn’t own this one

60% of users find new products on Instagram, so it’s no surprise that the platform has exploded within B2C marketing. But don’t fear B2B marketers! It’s also a great place to showcase your work, company culture and build relationships with your audience.

Instagram is fine-tuning its algorithm through machine learning, based on past behaviour to create a unique feed for everyone.  

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The app’s new algorithm is changing how and when users see the content you post based on a number of variables, including how far you scroll and the frequency at which you post.  

  1. Upgrade your profile to a business account. This simple change means you become visible to new audiences, particulary within your industry. You will also be granted account access to analytics and advertising. Who wouldn’t want that?
  2. Video content and stories. Instagram claims no preference (in terms of engagement) is given to images or videos. However, video content continues to surge in popularity and capturing user attention. While posting Stories regularly will keep you current in user feeds and increase visibility. Need more help on how to publish an Instagram Story? Read https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-instagram-stories/
  3. Offer advice or information. Let your audience know something they will find useful. Link to a blog, e-book or newsletter sign-up in your bio. People like to ‘take things away’ and will appreciate it because it's free.

Twitter - wave goodbye to automation 

Twitter bots will be banned in the company’s latest algorithm update, hurrrah!

No more fake followers sliding in your DM’s...

Along with this update comes another change: identical posts from multiple accounts will be banned. Although not too disastrous, it’s still worth thinking about.

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Here are some tips on how to build engagement without relying on automation.

  1. Authenticity. Be authentic and establish your brand with specialised industry knowledge and content in each tweet.
  2. Form relationships. Engage with users and aim to be conversational. Connecting with users will help build relationships. Remember, success is not measured by the amount of tweets you send or followers you have, but by how much users engage.
  3. Include images. An eye-catching visual will grab your audience's attention and is 34% more likely to get a retweet. 

LINKEDIN - A PROFESSIONAL PLAYGROUND 

B2B marketers find a whopping 80% of their leads through LinkedIn. Whether you’re marketing on behalf of a business or building a personal brand. You cannot ignore it.

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, the 2018 algorithm will now focus on the content you are likely to find relevant, as opposed to the chronological feed that you’re used to.

Shifting power away from influencers (finally) towards the smaller guys. LinkedIn will give more focus to how much the poster or creator will ‘appreciate' the engagement.

The Robin Hood of algorithms, if you will.

"The effect is that we are redistributing a little bit of the attention in the system from the power users to the other creators, so that no one is left behind," - LinkedIn.

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Follow these steps to optimise your posts..

  1. What LinkedIn wants to see. Although the platform is social, it was created for professionals. Great content should be conversational, relevant and topical in industry. Your posts should be inspiring and add value to the reader's career. Need help on how to collect content? Read our blog on the process we use.
  2. What LinkedIn doesn’t want to see. Anything controversial, political, religious, negative -- you get the idea. Just keep it to yourself.
  3. Optimise content for engagement. Engagement is KING. Use the platform to show off content, your expertise, insights and opinions on hot topics in the industry. Try to provoke a reaction in your readers. Give them something they can relate to. Tell them something they don’t know. Provide value where it’s needed.

TAKEAWAYS

Social algorithms give each user a unique news feed based on their activity. This means engagement is the currency when it comes to getting your content out there, and should be the main focus of your strategy. Although this may ask you to think a little harder about the content you are posting, the ROI is likely to be greater in the long run.

What’s the point in regularly posting great content if no-one engages with it? Make sure your content is irresistible and meaningful to users. Fire off opinions, share valuable insights and stay up to date with relevant news.

Engagement will be reciprocated, promise.

Ultimately, algorithms are changing to improve the user's experience. You can’t change this fact, you can only change with it.

Want more like this? Read 5 social media statistics and what they mean for B2B marketing

Save a copy of this guide for later, and start blogging better today.