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"I love it when tech algorithms change" - Said no digital marketer ever.
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

We all know the common culprits- from social media moguls to search giants, these titans have a huge say as to what consumers see and interact with on a day to day basis. How do these giants decide what to put in front of us? Algorithms.

For the non-techies, think of it as a set of instructions...

  1. Search archive based on no. of unique keyword matches
  2. Rank them in descending order
  3. Show to users in that order
  4. (Ignore 2 if an advertiser paid for keyword)

As a respected digital marketer, your job is to tend help increase the relevant reach of the brand that you represent.

You spend months figuring out how best to increase the reach of your Facebook videos, Instagram Stories and Blog post. Then, all of a sudden, an algorithm change.

The giants have decided to change the instructions of the game you play.

  1. Search archive based on no. of unique social signals (time spent on post/ page)
  2. Rank them in descending order
  3. Show to users in that order
  4. (Ignore 2 if an advertiser paid for keyword)

Shit. Time to relearn the new instructions of the game.

Spoiler alert- the instructions change again in 6 months

Brands are sick of it

A large cosmetic company, Lush, has had enough of social media channels. Earlier this month, they announced a shift away from social media channels and towards focusing on connecting one-on-one with their community.

The statement read...
"Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed."

Here are some stats breakdown: (Lush UK)
- Instagram: 500k +
- Facebook: 400k +
- Twitter: 200k +

These numbers are enough to make competitive brands envious of the brand's success on these social channels. Clearly the digital marketing team at Lush has done well. So after all that time and investment, is this a shift in company strategy or simply a protest against the social media industry?

Pay to Play

Unfortunately, as of April 2019, organic reach just doesn't seem to have the effect that it is used to. Shouldn't we all have been expecting this? Isn't this to be expected in an auction model?

According to both Facebook and Google, content is shown to users based on vague factors like "engagement" and "relevance" of the content. The third factor in this equation is the bid price.

For years, we've been reluctant to increase the bid price because we'd thought that increasing the quality of content in term of "engagement" and "relevance" would be the more sustainable option. Now, everyone has great content.

From blog post to videos, the quality is amazing. Seriously.

Companies have content production budgets ranging from the low thousands to a few million per year because the conventional wisdom was that organic content could rank if it was just good enough.

Now that everyone's content is amazing, its time to plow all that content product budget into paid advertising- just what the auction model encourages.