Algorithm is the intimidating concept that we all love to hate! It seems that every time we adjust our strategy, another social media platform is making changes to its algorithm. But like it or not, we have to play by the rules for each platform. As much as we hate to admit it, well-written content is not always enough. Social media trends are constantly changing, as are the algorithms that determine everything from the best times of the day to post, to who really gets to see your content. You can’t win if you don’t play by the rules, so in this blog, we’ll look at key trends and algorithm changes for Facebook and Instagram, and explore how to use analytics to improve your strategy.

While interactive content can come in all shapes in sizes, multi-media is a consistent winner on social media. While the algorithms are different for each platform, and no one knows all of what they entail, we do know that images and video perform highest across all platforms. Not only will this approach help build a relationship with your audience and reinforce your brand, but it will also give your visibility a boost.

But there’s more to we can do than just use the right type of content. Below, we’ll talk about key trends and recent changes for some of the most popular platforms, to prevent your strong voice and well-crafted message from disappearing into an algorithmic void.

Facebook

Web page browser of Social media Page VR Interface on the laptop computer.businessman working with mobile phone and laptop computer on wooden desk in modern office

The biggest trend you’ll see this year is transparency. For example, Facebook’s new ad disclosure feature will let users see why they are being targeted by certain ads, including the whole trail detailing how Facebook got that information. You may not want your audience to know if you’re paying for third party information, but there’s no way to hide from this latest feature.

Additionally, expect to see more Facebook ads denied. They can be denied for many reasons: weapons, cryptocurrency, and tobacco are all examples of advertisements that are prohibited by Facebook’s policy. Some specific words can get your ad blocked, too. Some are obvious, like profanity. Anything resembling spam will also get canned. Facebook cares about user experience so much that now even poor grammar, punctuation problems, and capitalization issues can get your ads blocked. To combat this, don’t use all caps or lots of exclamation points. Make sure to use spell check, or try Grammarly for a boost if you need it.

Keep in mind that there are major algorithm changes from 2018 that many brands are still trying to navigate:

  • Video wins, every time. Live video trumps all other media, earning 6-times the engagement of a regular post.
  • Family and friends come first in your audience’s news feed.
  • News sites win big in the credibility department. Facebook has placed an added emphasis on news outlets being delivered into the news feed.
  • Groups! Groups! Groups! Groups are incredibly popular on Facebook, so if you have the opportunity to create a group or a community for your business or brand, then this is definitely the time to do it. In just the last few weeks, those of you with groups may have noticed a big shift in your numbers. This is because when Facebook rolled out these algorithm changes, anyone could add someone into a group and that person who was added didn’t need to accept the invite in order to be added. Now Facebook has taken all of those people who didn’t actually accept the invite or engage in that group and they have been added into a separate list within that group. They’re still there, but you need to reach out and engage with them in order for them to stay in the group.

So what should you do on Facebook? And what should you avoid?

Must do’s:

  • Like. Share. Engage!
  • Timely & trending
  • Multi-media posts
  • Groups! Groups! Groups!
  • Share: popular pages, posts with high levels of interaction
  • Use insights to post at the right times

Things not to do:

  • Status updates using only text
  • Ask for follows or shares
  • Engagement-bait
  • Repeat the same posts

As a final note about Facebook: don’t let the pay-to-play trend scare you off. For a long time, we were able to market to a wide audience on Facebook for free, or virtually free, aside from the time we invested. Over the last two years, we have seen a definite decline in the number of people we’re reaching, and the leads we are generating through purely organic means. But know this: sponsored posts and advertising on Facebook can have a big return on a small investment. Keep in mind:

  • Advertising on Facebook doesn’t have to cost a fortune
  • Precision targeting
  • Immediate analytics
  • Advice & help from Facebook

Instagram

Beautiful red-haired girl in sunglasses over blue background making selfie on her cell phone. Beauty, fashion concept. Make-up and cosmetics. Studio shot.

This picture-perfect platform has over a billion active monthly users, more than 400 million active daily users, and it’s still growing. 33% of internet users are on Instagram, and while the amount of time spent on other platforms continues to go down, the time spent on Instagram is going up. It’s currently at an average of 25 minutes per day.

Engagement is also strikingly higher than other social media platforms, and studies indicate that might be due to how the brain processes images. This gives you even more reason to use video and images in all of your social media posts. If your business or organization is targeting younger demographics, then Instagram should likely be your platform of choice, since 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35.

Here are some of the new changes on Instagram:

  • There is a new emphasis on your username and bio. Words in your username are now searchable and act as a keyword. So consider: how are you being recognized? Your business or brand name might be perfect, or it might need to be more detailed or adjusted to use a better keyword.

  • Use hashtags in your bio! #Hashtags are #essential. Instagram allows for 30 per post, so we say use 30. Hashtags are searchable keywords. When users search a certain hashtag, everything tagged with that word will appear. If you want to be found, then you want to use hashtags. So make the most of them, use them wisely, and find relevant and appropriate tags for your posts.

  • Instagram accessibility is making an effort to be accessible to everyone, including those with visual disabilities. So you now can (and should) add an image description to the caption of your photo, and take advantage of new alternative text options just rolled out by Instagram. We have some instructions on our blog to walk you through that.

  • Utilize Instagram Stories. This is the most viewed piece on the platform, with 250 million daily users. Those of you incorporating video? Your IGTV can now be used in your story, with a wide reach to connect with your audience.

How should you adjust your strategy on Instagram?

Must Do’s:

  • Create interactive stories & posts
  • Engage! Engage! Engage!
  • Live video
  • Take advantage of trending #hashtags — but make #hashtags relevant
  • Develop a follow strategy

Analytics

Image showing marketing analytics

If you’re not using insights from Facebook and Instagram, you are missing great information on how you could be improving your campaigns, and getting a better return for your time and monetary investment.

The key reason to dive into analytics is to discover information about your audience. Even if you’re not a numbers person, Facebook and Instagram insights are a gold mine of information that will help you know who is in your audience by gender, geography, and content consumed. This will help you to learn the best times to post, specific to your audience. You’ll see the content that drives engagement in real-time. You can review your analytics often and adjust. Our team always talks about having a fluid strategy for our clients, because we’re going after a moving target. Don’t fall into the trap of setting a strategy and not revisiting it.

Learn More about Marketing Your Business on Facebook & Instagram

You don’t have to start from scratch while learning how to build your brand! We have many resources for you that are already available. Our team recently put together our top 12 tips to make the most of Instagram. You’ll find that, along with other bonus blogs on social media marketing:

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