Social news feeds are changing on many of the major social media sites, altering the way stories are displayed – and if they are even displayed at all. The Facebook and Twitter announcements came in February 2016 while the Instagram announcement was made in March 2016. Social news feed reordering has important implications for the organic social marketing of small business owners, so we’ve gathered everything you need to know below.
Why Are Social Media Sites Changing?
Social media sites are competing for users (and, therefore, advertisement revenue), so they know they have to make their sites align better with users’ expectations. These days, people want the most important, useful and relevant information delivered quickly without additional searching and scrolling. For this reason, the major social media sites are using algorithms that will reorder news feeds accordingly.
Social News Feed Reordering from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
All social media sites are moving in the same direction – to change users’ social news feeds so that the information that they care about the most is displayed at the top. Let’s look briefly at each site.
This Forbes article from February 5, 2016 explains the Facebook news feed changes. In a nutshell, Facebook had been surveying users around the world, asking them to rank posts based on how much they want to see the story in their Newsfeed. The information from these surveys is fueling a new algorithm where the likelihood of appearing in the news feed (or at the top of the news feed) is related to how highly that person would rate that post and how likely they would be to engage with it.
This Twitter article from February 10, 2016 explained the similar changes that Twitter is making to its social timeline. They are also reordering the social news feed so that tweets they think you care most about will appear first. They are choosing their ratings based on the accounts and tweets you interact with the most, as well as other content that is popular or relevant based on your preferences.
On March 15, 2016, this Wall Street Journal article explained how Instagram is testing a similar algorithm. They will be trying it out on a small percentage of Instagram users who will have their feeds reordered. Instead of chronological ordering, they will analyze your past likes and comments to display posts they think you will find most interesting.[Tweet “#Bizowners, find out how the #social news feed reordering affects your small #business.”]
What the Social News Feed Reordering Means to Small Business Owners
Changes to social timeline ordering could potentially hurt a small business owner’s organic social marketing. In a perfect world, you could post an update, and it would be viewable to all your social followers. We know that it doesn’t work like this, given the low reach of organic (unpaid) business page posts. However, the reordering changes may even further limit this reach.
That said, we do know that there is a clear path to getting more organic views – getting more likes, comments, shares, retweets and other interactions will make your page a higher priority for these (and possibly other) followers. This means it is more important than ever before to create engaging content for your social page. Skip the sales pitches – use your organic content as a way to connect and interact with your followers.
For those who do get a fair amount of interaction, the changes may actually boost their organic social presence. For example, in the change, Twitter mentioned that:
Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow.
That means that those interesting, engaging tweets could gain you new views, interactions and follows.
In some cases, you can also try to encourage followers to change their settings to give your page priority. In Facebook, users can edit their News Feed preferences and choose to “prioritize who to see first.” Learn how it works so you can help followers who wonder where your posts have gone to prioritize your page in their feeds.
Finally, if your organic social media efforts are coming up short, you may start to seriously consider paid advertising. This will help your most important social posts reach a wider audience. It also may help spark engagement on your social pages, so your organic social posts will show up higher in news feeds too.