All Change: Surviving Social Network Algorithm Updates

Social media can be a tricky beast for brands. As social channels become increasingly essential platforms for digital marketing and outreach, social networks continue to shift the goalposts. Just as you’ve found a way to connect with your digital audience via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, the brains behind these social engines implement a shift, releasing a fresh algorithm and prompting the need for a complete tactical rethink of your social media strategy.

Instagram’s latest algorithm update, which spokespeople from the platform claim will be rolling out gradually over the coming weeks and months, is the latest in a string of updates from social networks which aim to give users a “higher quality” experience – showing them the content the algorithm predicts they will care about the most first, rather than showing content chronologically.

The #Updates

The update is a logical step for Instagram. The network is owned by Facebook who have already lead the charge for “relevant” content vs. “chronological” content by using an ever-more complex series of cues (from who you talk to on Facebook Messenger, to whether you liked a piece of content before or after you opened it) to calculate which content users are most likely to “care about”.

Twitter, too, has implemented some tweaks to offer “relevance” over chronology – albeit on a much smaller scale (tweets still appear chronologically in the vast majority of cases, while the “while you were away” section has been expanded and made more sophisticated). Of all the latest “relevance”-oriented updates, however, it is Instagram’s which is proving to be the most controversial – and extensive.

The #Backlash
It’s not just brands and digital marketers who have been thrown by the forthcoming update. Many individual users across the network are also up in arms, questioning the ability of an algorithm to predict what they and their followers will find interesting or want to see. With so much noise out there in the social media sphere, many are concerned about disappearing from feeds altogether, while others harbour concerns about the limitations of only seeing “curated” content. Many users see this step by Instagram as a worrying and megalomaniac move, with the network deciding what is best for users and removing a great deal of freedom and choice from the Instagram experience.

The #Solution

You may already have seen an array of #turnmeon posts in your Instagram feed. Accessed via the three dots at the top right of each image, followers can choose to turn on push notifications for their favourite Instagram accounts to make sure they never miss a post – no matter how the new algorithm ranks it. This, however, is a pretty drastic solution in the grand scheme of social media. Much more than simply ensuring all posts from a specific account are seen, choosing to #turnmeon will give users a push notification straight through to their phone every time a new image is posted. With a million things to beep about already, this much hyped workaround is by no means a perfect solution.

The #Alternative

For brands, however, there is a more future-facing “outside the box” option which could help digital marketers take control of social accounts, whatever new algorithms the networks throw their way. Social media aggregation is an increasingly popular option, which allows organisations to publish social content their way, without interference from ever-shifting social goal posts.

By compiling and displaying social content from all active channels in one, customisable place (known as a Social Wall), brands can ensure their content is seen as and when it was intended, even displaying relevant, chronological user generated content in conjunction, if desired. Perfect for using as a social hub on websites, and particularly effective as part of displays at events, social media aggregation tools offer brands a new opportunity to do social media their way, without algorithmic interference.

What are your thoughts on the new Instagram update? Will it improve or worsen your experience of the platform? Share your thoughts below, or explore Miappi’s industry-leading social media aggregation software to learn more about doing social your way. Keen to get going? REQUEST A DEMO now and we will show you the ropes.