Is algorithmic Pay-to-Play ruining social media?

April 19, 2017

As the best digital marketers descended on Squamish for the third annual Change in the Making conference, the energy in the West Coast Heritage Railway building was fired up.

User experience, interactivity, native advertising and other buzzword topics were discussed and analyzed by panelists and speakers. Google, Facebook, Buzzfeed, World Vision and other prominent industry leaders leveled their two cents. Yet one thing everyone seemed to agree on, was the social shift from organic to algorithmic.

In the last year, Instagram has gone from instant photos – a chronological timeline, organic traffic and growth – to data-driven. Brands have access beyond likes and comments. With the rollout of business profiles, follower insights and post stats, these changes mirror many of what Facebook offers to businesses. As marketers, that means we have a new playing field to amplify our brands and get our content seen. If you have the budget, of course.

It’s a Pay-to-Play world out there, after all.

If your website is your brand and your identity, than your efforts on social media is the sphere around it, used to pull in and engage your audience. So, as more brands and businesses migrate to Instagram, fighting to be seen, smaller and no-budget businesses might get buried. The answer isn’t posting more often; flooding your feed in hopes to be seen.

If you want to achieve steady and continuous growth, you need to consider alternative strategies. Organic growth will not get you far.

This comes as no surprise to advertisers, who know what the power of budget can do for a campaign, yet clients and some marketers still view social as “free marketing.” If you produce enough compelling content, you can amass a loyal following who will share it with their friends and draw in a larger audience. That’s no longer the case.

Persuasive content is great, but don’t expect it to be seen by more than a small percentile of the population without a strategic campaign plan, a synced marketing team and a willing wallet. To get results from social, brands need to pay.

According to Social@Ogilvy, you have a six to 12 per cent chance of having your content shown organically to your existing audience.

It’s our responsibility to communicate this decline in organic reach to our clients and provide them with creative solutions. We’re having to constantly reinvent the way we utilize social media, yet the biggest take-home message from Pay-to-Play, is don’t give up on great content!

“It’s important to remember that even if you don’t pay to have a presence, having a presence can pay.” – Blaise Lucey from Marketing Land

Your social content affects purchasing decisions, even if it doesn’t have the reach you’re aiming for. When customers search your product, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms will show up. People will do their research before committing to a purchase and, if they don’t like what they see on your feeds, it will persuade their purchasing decisions, even if it’s not a direct conversion.

CIMC Take Away: With most advertising, social media avenues require budget for efficacy BUT that doesn’t diminish the focus required for the content of a campaign. Organic search isn’t dead, but it is declining and we must take that into consideration if we want to see results with social media efforts.