Social Butterfly

The 5 Biggest Social Media Changes We’re Seeing for 2018

March 14, 2018by hiebing2021

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Social media is never what it used to be, especially with 2017 bringing several seismic shifts that affect how marketers do business. Here’s a look at the biggest shifts we’re already seeing for your brand’s 2018 social media strategy.

Organic Reach Is a Thing of the Past

In an effort to turn back the clock to a time when your News Feed comprised less news and more status updates from your pals, Facebook has started deprioritizing the organic reach of brand content (yet again). This makes clear the reality that paid support is the only way for businesses to get their content into the News Feeds of their potential customers.

The likely result? A Facebook ads market that’s more crowded and more competitive.

Plus, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself acknowledging the change will likely reduce users’ time spent on the site, we suspect there will be more advertisers vying for a shrinking number of available impression opportunities—causing CPMs to increase.

What, then, is a marketer to do?

If you’re investing time in creating content, you should also be investing budget in making sure that content gets seen. It’s like the old parable, “If a post goes up and no one sees it, did it even happen?”

Ideally, this means putting paid support behind every post you decide to create.

For some brands, one way to sort out how often you should be posting would be to work backward from how much you can spend on media. Then determine the amount you should spend per post based on the size of your target to figure out post frequency. This will help you avoid spending time creating posts that aren’t seen, and maximize the visibility and return of each post. That said, this approach is likely best suited to passion brands or smaller companies with scrappier budgets (vs. larger brands with solid social bench strength and budgets).

For those holding out for some good stuff in the organic post space, the one thing you can do is ask your fans to take action: invite them to check the “see first” box on your page, which will ensure your posts rise to the top of their News Feed.

Obviously, this is a big ask, even for super brands with super fans, so don’t consider this a quick-fix for the realities of the present-day News Feed. Also, get creative around other methods for reaching and engaging with your target: start a Facebook Group if there’s a lot of conversation around your product or industry, or leverage Facebook events to get in front of fans (if you can specify a location) with the added benefit of social credibility given fans can see how many of their friends are interested in going.

Lastly, while Facebook may be moving away from populating News Feeds with organic posts, it maintains a special place in its algorithmic heart for video. The platform will keep pushing Facebook Watch to fill the void, testing features like watch parties to encourage more “active” viewing. But even so, moving pictures won’t get the organic reach they once did, which means being part of the video ad scene will entail producing compelling, brand-centric, six-second or 15-second videos that can fit into Facebook’s pre-roll and in-stream ads.

Shift Focus Away From Facebook Fans and Growth

One of the most common and persistent misconceptions about Facebook has long been that each of your posts reaches all of your fans. While that was never completely true, back in the day there was more truth to it with content reaching a double-digit percentage of your fans. As more pages and pals joined Facebook, however, organic reach for brands dropped to the low single digits, and follower numbers lost their reach value.

In fact, Facebook now actively discourages advertisers from creating fan growth campaigns (though it still offers it as a campaign objective). Paying twice never makes sense and that’s what you’re doing with fan growth—i.e., first paying to acquire a fan, and second, paying to show that fan your content. So, unless you’re looking to generate a list of potential consumers for retargeting or planning to use that fan number to establish brand relevancy or legitimacy, the return no longer seems to justify the investment.

Instead, we recommend focusing on the objective of your Facebook ad campaign—e.g., garnering engagement, brand awareness or conversions, whatever aligns best with your brand’s goals. From there, calculate the campaign’s success as a rate of what you’re measuring against the total number of impressions. Calculating the success of a post as a rate also makes it easier to compare campaigns with varying ad spends in which the number of impressions and engagements can rise and fall based on the post’s budget.

Comment-to-Win Posts Will Cost You Reach and Impressions

After receiving feedback that posts that explicitly encourage followers to “like,” “comment” or “share” can be considered spammy, Facebook announced it is taking steps to punish pages using those tactics to pump up engagement. The platform will now demote posts that incorporate these “engagement baiting” tactics, reducing reach and impressions, and then punish pages themselves that don’t take the hint.

Facebook has remained tight-lipped on what its A.I. considers “engagement bait,” but chances are at least one of those signals has to do with post copy keywords such as “comment” and “win.” This reaction seems to be in line with Facebook’s response to engagement baiting and low-quality web page experiences.

If these types of post promotions have been successful for your brand, simply proceed with caution and keep an extra close eye on your metrics to see if Facebook is dinging your page. Be mindful of terms that might get your post a slap from Facebook—and don’t be surprised if engagement dips. As a workaround, also explore using a microsite to host your sweepstakes, and then leverage Facebook to advertise it instead.

Instagram Is The New Snapchat (Which Was the New Instagram)

In May of 2017, Snapchat went public to great fanfare, after ushering in an era of ephemeral, 24-hours-and-it’s-gone content. While the platform grew at a breakneck pace thanks to its constant innovation and intimate one-to-one messaging, its rapid expansion has since slowed to a crawl after Facebook dug into its deep pockets and resources to port one of Snapchat’s key features to Instagram with the launch of Stories.

The Insta update gave users another excuse to not flick between the two platforms and quickly eliminated Snap’s key competitor advantage. To its credit, Instagram also made great strides improving upon the 24-hour Stories model, introducing hashtags, polls, tagging and other advancements to the app, as well as making it easy to discover accounts or hashtags to follow. (All of this might help explain how Instagram has been able to maintain its beloved public status in a way that Facebook has not.) The collective ease, accessibility and metrics of running a paid campaign on Instagram continues to put Snapchat to shame, which has marketers steering media dollars away from the snappy young company and into the Insta pot.

All that said, as Instagram and Snapchat wage an unending battle for the coolest feature (GIPHY in Stories or Bitmoji AR?), don’t count either player out yet. Instagram may have a more advertiser-and-creator-friendly setup, but Snapchat has proven it can adapt quickly and appeal to the next generation even better than its most formidable rivals.

Depending on your target and budget, you may want to continue leveraging both platforms from a paid perspective, though Instagram is far and away a better investment for getting your content discovered by a wider audience (“Thanks, Instagram explore tab”) and procuring the stats you’ll need to measure success.

Twitter Bumps Up the Character Limit

Last year after much debate, Twitter made the (controversial) decision to double its long-standing character count limit from 140 to 280. Twitter thinks this change would allow users who tweet in languages like English, which  requires more characters,  the opportunity to better express their thoughts. To prove its point, Twitter shared a chart demonstrating the percentage of tweets in English that hit the 140-character limit (9 percent) far exceeds those in Japanese (0.4 percent).

Having already done away with counting videos, photos and GIFs toward the character limit, users and brands can now enjoy even MORE freedom when they post on the platform.

Don’t think this gives you carte blanche to fill every tweet to the brim. Character limits or not, brevity remains a keystone of this platform. Marketers have kept their messages to 140 characters up until now, so you should only push the character count when you truly must. (The same goes for almost any other social platform, as less tends to be more on social.) Otherwise you’ll risk Twitter users glazing over your relatively “lengthy” tweets and scrolling by, not to mention potential backlash.

Let’s face it: With the rapidly evolving social landscape, change is the norm. While it’s tempting to chase after the newest, shiniest object, take a moment to think before taking action—and experiment to see what works for your brand. Most of all, keep the target at the center of your decision-making, adapting but also never losing sight of your audience and always staying true to your brand story.

Struggling to keep up with the ever-evolving world of social media? Connect with Ted Jun at to learn how we can help you keep pace and maintain a powerful presence on the platforms that matter most to your business.

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