Facebook was first. Then came Instagram and Twitter. Now even Snapchat may jump on the algorithmic news feed bandwagon. The feeds on these platforms are no longer showing us every post by everyone we follow. Instead, they’re showing us only the posts we’re most likely to engage with, or at least those that the algorithms have determined we’ll find most appealing.
The logic here is that there are simply too many posts constantly going up for people to review them all. The product people at the top social networks believe users are expected to interact with too much content on a daily basis, and the clutter keeps us from viewing the content that actually interests us. As a result, they’ve developed – and redeveloped – highly sophisticated algorithms to keep our social news feeds as engaging, relevant, and valuable as possible.
For marketers, however, these algorithms are both a blessing and a nightmare. On one hand, happier audience members are more likely to engage with branded content when they see it. If people expect every item in their feeds to be of interest to them, then they’ll be less likely to overlook a marketing-oriented post.
On the other hand, if people are prone to interacting with cat gifs and videos of family reunions most, then the algorithms often mean we need to pay for eyeballs. Thanks to promoted posts, the non-chronological feed is, after all, a cash cow for social networks.
Contrarianism, Visibility, and Your Toolbox
Some major ethical questions have been raised surrounding these algorithmic feeds. Researchers are studying the impact algorithmic curation has on voter opinions, and the results are both frightening and fascinating. Social media’s impact on society is even thought to exacerbate conspiracy theories.
Both of these phenomena, of course, have to do with confirmation bias. People are suddenly seeing plenty of information from a small circle of like-minded people – some a little more extreme than others. This makes it almost impossible for them to run into contradicting opinions, but it’s easier for marketers to target them. As a result, ads often perform better.
That leaves us with just a few tiny problems. How easy is it to stay visible in a world where 216,000 Instagram posts, 3,472 Pinterest images, and 277,000 tweets are posted every minute? You have to not only understand but beat the algorithms if you ever want your content to be seen.
And even if your post goes through-the-roof viral, how can you track and prove your social ROI? How do you keep your content “alive” beyond a short period of time? Is it even possible to consistently win the social media attention game?
The right tools can make a world of difference. There are plenty of apps that can improve your social media ROI and consumer engagement rates despite the algorithms. Let’s take a look at 6 of the best.
1. Ignite Your Audience’s Feeds
A great way to beat the algorithms is to showcase more pieces of content per click. Start A Fire might not drive revenues directly, but it can dramatically increase the impact of the links you post. This tool adds a customizable badge with further content recommendations to the articles you share.
Use it to drive visitors further into your sales funnel by recommending a specific landing page, or grow your credibility and authority by sharing highly valuable content. Just remember, it’s important to pay attention to detail and not add Start A Fire badges to any sales landing pages you share. The last thing you want to do is drop your ROI by pulling readers back out of the funnel.
This tool easily integrates with the social media dashboard of your choice (Hootsuite, Buffer, TweetDeck, and more) to automatically add badges to every URL you post. User-friendly, flexible, and proven to work, Start A Fire is a great option for those looking to keep their users on track while simultaneously providing them with diverse, high-quality content.
2. Dive into Your ROI Data
Yeah, yeah, content is king. If you’re a content marketer, you’re probably tired of having to justify content marketing investments without having the ability to quantitatively measure ROI. But, luckily, there are solutions to help you better track the results of your efforts. A social media scheduler for B2B marketers, Oktopost, gives you the ability to follow your users after click-throughs and discover the conversion impact of every post – even if the conversions happen months after the initial referral.
Oktopost lets you assign names, email addresses, and social profiles to each lead who clicks on a post. It’s also the first posting app to automatically calculate and generate a social ROI report. It then allows you to personalize the content you deliver to each lead and turn customers into brand advocates. From there, you can see your ROI soar.
Although Oktopost has tons of powerful features, some of them are stronger than others. We recommend avoiding their tagging feature for now until it improves. It’s a great tool, but it’s best for organizations that are already highly active on social media.
3. Hit the Right Target
Organic reach on Facebook is less and less attainable with every update to its feed algorithms. So, what’s the solution? Data-driven marketers are turning to Facebook’s Audience Optimization tools to target organic posts to segments of fans. So, although the never-ending, always-damaging algorithm changes can be tough to deal with, there are often ways to work around them.
Clicking the bullseye logo when posting on Facebook, for example, lets you use interest tags to select the fans who are most likely to engage with and enjoy a specific post. It won’t keep people outside of those interest groups from viewing what you’ve posted, however. (If you miss the old, restrictive interest targeting feature, you can still limit your audience by age, gender, location, and other characteristics.)
In Facebook’s own feature testing, it seems that Audience Optimization increases engagement without decreasing organic reach. Not bad, Facebook. Not bad. Just make sure you’re familiar with the network’s interest categories because you cannot create custom tags (yet).
4. Churn Out Those Videos
On Facebook and elsewhere, video dominates the feeds. And, according to HubSpot, enjoying a video ad increases intent to buy by 97% and brand association by 139%, and not just for B2C. Believe it or not, 59% of B2B executives voice a preference for video content over text. We can’t all be Steven Spielberg, though, so how do you create video content that users will enjoy?
Stupeflix helps non-AV experts design and create visually appealing videos in minutes with one of 16 free templates. The algorithm-friendly videos are easily posted to Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels.
Facebook’s Ted Zagat has stated that, within a year or two, the majority of posts we’ll see in Facebook’s news feed will feature video content, so it makes sense that your feed already feels as if it’s video-dominated. Just don’t get too gung-ho on video – Facebook has been known to backpedal. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid going all-in on any one particular type of media or platform when it comes to social. You just never know when these platforms will flip the switch and leave your social strategy in the dust.
5. Streamline One-to-One Engagement
Facebook Messenger can be integrated into your website relatively easily, allowing you to streamline your online support chain. The Facebook Messenger app keeps a record of conversations, lets you create instant responses and personalized form replies, access customer information (job, age, location, etc.), and assign priority levels. You can even develop bots to reply to Messenger-based chats instantly on an automated basis.
With Facebook’s review feature quickly growing in popularity, using this app is a great way to defuse negative feedback – or better yet, turn it positive. The average smartphone user checks Facebook some 14 times each day, so it pays to reply quickly. Customers expect a reply to negative comments on social media within 60 minutes, and 71% will recommend a brand that delivers good customer service on social media.
There’s an added bonus, too. If you monitor your Facebook Messenger diligently and minimize lag times, you get a little Facebook love via increased organic reach. Everybody wins.
6. Extend Your Retargeting Reach
It normally takes several sales touches to educate and qualify a lead before they’ll buy. Imagine seamlessly targeting a market segment across devices and making sure your social posts reach the same people no matter what social channel or device they’re on. You can count the number of touches per individual and dynamically serve up sponsored social posts accordingly with AdRoll’s cross-platform retargeting feature.
Retargeting is a powerful advertising technique whereby you can “stalk” your website visitors by advertising to them after they’ve left your site. When promoting social posts to bypass the feed algorithms, retargeting allows you to maximize efficiency by showing ads to the right people across sites and devices. AdRoll can serve up paid posts within Facebook and Instagram, as well as other websites.
For the best ROI, segment your audiences carefully and show them the content that’s laser-focused on their interests based on their interactions with your brand’s website and ads.
The algorithmic news feed is an intimidating development in social media marketing, but if you adapt quickly and adjust the tools and tactics you use accordingly, you can still reach the people you want without spending an arm and a leg.
Again, try to avoid investing all your resources in any one single social media trend or algorithm change because you never know when these platforms will change the rules on you. Success on social media is dependent on agility and true audience insights. Having the right tools in place to support you and your strategy can make a world of difference. Used together, the tools mentioned above can keep your ROI positive and take it to new heights.