Monday, 16 july 2018 | Brenda Rodríguez López
Brands need to be present on social networks and their work is increasingly getting complicated as time goes by. Nonetheless, not only must they captivate their target, they also have to conquer the "intelligent" system which controls how content is arranged in each platform. Algorithms impose the rules of the game and their guidelines can change overnight. What can brands do to fight against this situation? How can they reach their desired audience? What guidelines should they follow to conquer the algorithms of each social network site?
Facebook is a platform which is undergoing a constant metamorphosis. Just a few days ago, this social networking site announced a new change again in Spain: it will give priority to information with local characteristics and which comes from reliable sources. Since May, this social networking service has been working on the identification of these sources through surveys conducted into its users. This measure which has been in force since January in the United States aims at contributing to the fight against the spread of the so-called fakes news.
At the beginning of the year, Zuckerberg's social networking service informed about one of the most controversial changes in the digital media world: the priority of the content related to friends and family over the one about brands and media. It is increasingly difficult for brands to achieve a high organic reach. In fact, it seems that companies have been experiencing a significant loss of influence since it was implemented. Slate is one of the few companies that has dared to publish the data that they have acquired since the change of this algorithm in 2018. The company has lost 55% of the reference traffic which this social network provided them (87% compared to a year and a half ago).
Platforms do not work according to what the rule should be in the beginning: the order of content in a chronological way. For example, YouTube previously showed their videos according to the number of visits that they registered and now according to the time that users spend watching them. This video-sharing website also works on the same line as Facebook. It aims at ensuring more relevance to local content and fighting conspiratorial information.
A common parameter in most of the algorithms that govern social networks sites is the level of interaction. In some way, platforms reward popularity. This is the case, for example, of Instagram which favors the content that generates more comments and gets more "likes" from the first minutes since it was shared. Its algorithm aims at meeting the preferences of each user and for this reason is based on how they behaved in the past. A point in favor in this platform is that if users scroll down enough, they can see all the posts from the people and brands that they are following. It does not hide anything.
Twitter's algorithm also shows tweets in connection with the level of user interaction. However, it offers peculiarities in its functioning such as the relevance of breaking news and the most popular messages of the people that users follow. In respect of Linkedin's algorithm, participation is crucial. This social network believes that the more interest a publication generates, the more important it is for the professional sector. Apart from that, its content is reviewed by human editors, which makes the quality of publications to be even more important.
In order to reach the desired audience it is necessary to take into account the different peculiarities of each media. However, there are a number of common guidelines that can help to overcome the obstacles that algorithms stand in the way:
Algorithms do not have to be necessarily fair. In fact, they also lead to inequalities. However, at the moment, platforms set the rules of the game. If brands insist on maintaining a position that is not common to these changes, they reduce their chances of success. However, we always have to keep in mind that there are other players with enough capacity to change the rules of the game: users.
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