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Social media has completely changed the way companies conduct their marketing over the last couple decades. Traditional modes of advertising, like billboards, have been de-emphasized in favor of influencing people through their social media feeds. Although marketing has always been a methodical industry, it is now more carefully designed around the consumer, often with a special focus on their social media use.
Many social media developers have made changes to their sites through the application of algorithms. Whether incidentally or by design, these changes often censor or limit certain types of users or content. For example, while founder Mark Zuckerberg insists that such changes that were made to Facebook were implemented to better curate users’ feeds, they have had a major impact on companies who seek to market through the social media platform.
Social Media Censorship
Social media was designed as a platform for social interactions among friends, family, and other acquaintances. However, most of these platforms quickly became sites for the creation and sharing of original content. This is a process that was easily adopted by marketers, having since become a staple of digital marketing. With everyone creating media to promote on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and his team of web developers made the decision to curate feeds in order to highlight the most important information for each individual.
This change was applied to Instagram as well, after Facebook purchased the photo social media site. These are two of the largest social media sites that exist, though it’s important to note that networks like YouTube and Twitter are seeing similar algorithmic changes.
Regardless of intentions, it’s difficult to say how successfully these changes have been adopted. Facebook used this change as an opportunity to limit the number of posts people would see from businesses, a move that was expected to increase their ad revenue due to higher engagement rates. However, with brands struggling to have their content get the exposure they would like, many are looking for alternatives.
What are the pros and cons of this form of censorship, and how can marketers continue to see success in digital marketing going forward?
Site developers have begun applying insights from big data through algorithms. This helps them promote content based on what it sees as a person’s preferences. Sites like YouTube and Netflix use big data to recommend content as “suggested media” in sections of their site. These suggestions are made using search histories and data concerning how consumers use the site.
As algorithms direct related content to users who are more likely to be interested in it, users have become more trusting of these platforms. This improved relationship keeps users logged in and engaged, which helps make it a stronger marketing platform for many companies.
Algorithms can also help ensure that certain ads are targeted to individuals who are most likely to be interested and benefit from them. They can provide helpful content to those who could benefit from the products or services — and therefore help marketers reach their audiences as directly as possible.
Because Facebook creates the rules that marketers must work with, they are now unable to promote their original content effectively without paying for advertising space. Facebook has used algorithms to minimize attention to posts that promote other websites, which means fewer people see this type of content than they did before the changes were applied.
Algorithms are also imperfect, and as they are often designed to target certain demographics, they may leave out customers who could potentially be interested in the product. It simply depends on how thorough marketers are in their research and how much they’re able to spend to refine their targeting.
Effects on Marketing Companies
In order to dodge the negative effects of algorithms that limit business reach, marketing companies must be aware of the impact to expect through censorship, which can help them stay ahead of the curve. The key is to remember and focus on the purpose of marketing: reaching consumers. Even if a social networking site gets in the way of that, marketers can find ways to overcome these obstacles by maintaining the integrity of their content and products.
Whether the content is beautiful pictures or long-form writing, good content is always recognised and often shared by consumers, especially when it gets into the right hands. Even if the organic reach for businesses is no longer between 15% and 20%, it’s still possible to make progress towards marketing goals by doing a thorough job on your own part.
Social media censorship has had a large impact on how marketing companies are able to do their job. While some changes have provided extensive benefits for marketers, many have also been negative. As algorithms continue to change, there’s no saying how social media marketing will be done in the future. However, the reach attained through social networking sites will likely remain one of the best avenues for reaching a large, targeted audience.