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How Brands Can Adapt to Social Media Algorithms


By   |   April 14th, 2016   |   Reading time: 7 minutes Brands

The social media algorithm is going to make your content smarter.

Talk of algorithms has raised an uproar among publishers and brands recently. Both are concerned that their content won’t be seen at all if social media shifts to display content to users based on algorithms rather than when posted.

Facebook and Google already operate on algorithms and both Instagram and Twitter have recently considered or are planning to pivot.

Instead of raising alarm and believing this is the end for branded content, algorithms are beneficial. Why?

In the algorithmic world, quality is king over quantity.

This means marketers need to take a step back and look at exactly what content is being produced. Success in the algorithmic world signals real, genuine interest from your audience.

Let’s dive into how brands can best adapt to algorithmic changes on social.

Make interesting content


Brands are often several steps disconnected from their audience. They’re operating through a variety of one-ended mediums. They know that their product or service is of value to their consumer, but how to make their digital content valuable too?

At the end of the day, Red Bull is a beverage company, yet is known for producing exciting digital content that showcases thrill seekers and death-defying stunts.

In addition to extreme sports, Red Bull also injects humor into their social content (and dinosaurs, apparently). 

Instead of thinking, how can you use social media to promote your product, start thinking, how can you create engaging social content just for your target audience?

The brands churning out uninteresting content will see themselves losing the algorithm battle. This is all the more reason to examine your core content themes. You want to find the best trends to engage your audience. Try NewsWhip Spike to track your content’s performance in real-time, and discover what’s trending in your industry.

Let influencers light the way


Social media champions who have devoted and often massive followings are another way brands can reach audiences against an algorithm. Algorithms favor the people and profiles that users have a genuine interest and high engagement with.

Influencers do particularly well for fashion, beauty, travel, and parenting brands, but any company can find the right influencer that speaks to their core themes.

Naomi Davis, above, is a beloved ‘mommy blogger’, who partners with both big and small brands to share companies that her followers would find interesting and useful for themselves and their families. In the Instagram post above, she shares a highlight from her trip sponsored by Fairmont Hotels. The post saw over 9,200 likes and 66 comments.

We’ve built this guide on how to find the best influencers for your brand, launch, and track influencer campaigns.

It’s what all the cool kids are doing—brands from Mercedes-Benz, Hallmark, Marriott, and Capital One have all worked with influencers. Instagram has long been suited for these campaigns, thanks to the highly visual nature of the platform and the natural talent and charm of its top users.

For brands struggling against the algorithm, starting by growing their reach and interest through an influencer is a great way to go.

Partner with publishers for branded content


Growing that interest can also be done through publishers. Native advertising, or branded content, has emerged as an increasingly ubiquitous format for marketers.

And it works. Not only do 53% of users report being more likely to look at a native ad over a banner ad, but 32% would share the ad, and 52% show purchase intent.

Branded content can be as varied as editorial content. Again, it’s about taking into mind who your audience is, and what works on the platform.

new york times orange is the new black branded content

Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” did a great, in-depth content piece with the New York Times last year. We’ve seen how well long-form pieces perform for the New York Times on social before, and this branded piece is no exception.

The content drove over 5,100 likes, 2,100 shares, and 1,100 comments on Facebook alone. 

Meanwhile, BMW used a quiz to engage with BuzzFeed’s  audience. The sidebars on the page include embeds to BMW’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, and their additional content they’ve written on BuzzFeed. At the very end of the quiz is there an embedded YouTube video for the BMW i3.

Buzzfeed BMW quiz

The quiz was shared 1,400 times on Facebook, along with over 3,000 likes and 1,400 comments.

Now, with Facebook’s roll-out of branded content to publishers using Instant Articles, it’s easier than ever to extend your brand’s reach this way. And branded content can go beyond paid placements. Brands can partner with publishers and exist beyond just on the publisher’s site.

Reebok focuses on inspirational, yet accessible fitness content to its audience and now produces it both on its own brand blog and through partnering with other sources like Elite Daily, Bustle, and Refinery29 to grow the content’s reach. Like with influencers, it allows brands to reach an often bigger, more engaged audience, that values good content. 

Check the numbers


For algorithms, social engagement is a more powerful signal than ever. They’re the language of the platform, and what the algorithm takes into consideration. Of course Facebook is going to reward the posts that have high engagement.

It’s vital to keep watching the pulse of your content. Content needs to be measured so that brands can understand what’s working and what isn’t.  

Social signaling tools like NewsWhip Spike and Analytics can find those signals clearer among all the digital noise. In an instant, you can find what content is getting liked across social media, and compare platforms as well.

Tesla NewsWhip Spike

A one-week look on Spike at Tesla’s Facebook page reveals the best performing content. We can look at Instagram, Twitter, or Tesla’s Youtube channel to compare the brand’s performance on each channel.

For a real time look at how your content is doing, Spike provides that. Content can be analyzed from platform to platform to see what trends work best and where.

You can also monitor the viral trends in your industry your audience is engaging with. Or search the mentions around your brand to see where interest is spiking.

electric cars spike trends

This 12 hour view on Spike around electric cars show that people are interested in seeing how electric cars can transform transport globally. Further down on the screen were articles about electric cars in Poland, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

With such granular monitoring, it’s effortless to shift your content tactics to better deliver to your audience. This will in turn increase your performance on algorithmic social platforms. 

We welcome our algorithmic overlords


Some brands are already suited to the algorithmic model on social media. Entertainment franchises like Marvel or Nintendo, and sports, which already have fanatic followings, should still do well in the algorithmic world.

For other brands, it’s a matter of taking time to consider what your audience would find interesting, and worth sharing with others or commenting on.

This will provide a better experience for both brand and consumer. It will help build not only brand awareness, but trust, credibility, and how liked the brand is. And brands will get to know their target audience’s wants on a deeper level, based on how the algorithm ranks the content.

It’s a win-win for everyone—better, smarter, more transparent marketing.

Get started tracking your brand’s content today and finding out what your audience is engaging with

 

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