Keeping up with algorithm changes. It's a full time job.
When I first got out of college, Google's search algorithm was the only thing I had to concern myself with. That wasn't so bad. If you were good at dropping keywords into website copy and blog posts, you were set.
Then Facebook came along. Shortly behind that, Facebook's Edge Rank algorithm came to surface...and pretty much ruined the day of many marketers. You didn't (and still don't) always know what content played well with Facebook's algorithm and what would actually show up in the news feed.
Then, while we're fighting the Facebook algorithm with our left hand, our right is tied up keeping up with Google's changing search algorithms. As it turns out, loading websites with keywords wasn't so much of a secret and people were gaming the system rather effectively. So marketers had to adjust to that too.
Now, Twitter is testing a "while you were away" feature that will have an algorithm built in to show people the tweets they missed while they weren't staring at a screen.
Great - another algorithm.
And all in the name of user experience. Apparently, all of these services are concerned with showing users "high quality content." Like, stuff people actually care about looking at.
Now, to even be seen, we have to pay-to-play. These publicly traded companies are trying to profit off of advertiser content. It's an old bait-and-switch. It appears as if riding the gravy train of free advertising on the world's most trafficked websites is coming to a screeching halt.
And I'm okay with that. For two reasons.
As a user, I get my life back
Excluding Google, you would have to stay glued to a screen to be clued in on what was going on. A story could come from anywhere (well...it still can). Keeping up with a trend can be a full time job. An algorithm that sorts everything out for me and only delivers me the most shared or highest quality info at the time keeps me away from a lot of manual digging. I get the information I need quickly and effectively.
This really hit home for me with Twitter. I was trying to keep up with this year's #CES2015 and opened up a saved stream of that hashtag on my Tweetdeck dashboard. The stream was moving so fast and there was so much noise I didn't want to hear that I eventually moved onto Twitter.com's search page. There, they delivered the top stories, the most shared photos and tweets from the most authoritative people and news outlets on-site. It made finding the information I wanted a lot easier to find.
Now that Twitter is coming out with a new "while you were away" feature, this is even better. Now I can put down the phone, close the laptop and do work.
Or read a book.
Or talk to someone and stay engaged in the conversation for its entirety. And I won't worry about missing a thing.
Sure, I may not be the first person to learn the latest news...but that's not always a bad thing. Most of the time, the first bit of news isn't the most accurate. Facebook's algorithm accomplishes the same thing.
I don't have to keep up with a rapidly moving news feed. I can see what my friends are sharing and commenting on at my own leisure...and stay in the loop with half the effort.
As a marketer, I'm forced to prioritize my time
Working in any communications field (advertising, marketing, public relations etc.) provides its own set of challenges and pressure to stay up-to-date. There's always a new platform coming out and more places to engage with audiences than any one person has time in a single day to use. Chasing the next shiny object is exhausting.
Now we have to pay to even be seen on the shiny objects. And I'm okay with that.
I work with nonprofits and low budgets most of the time, so it's not like I'm rolling in ad budgets or lack a realistic perspective on the plight of the average business. I get it. Resources are tight. Being asked to cough up more money for marketing is the last thing most people want to hear.
That said, it's easy to forget that time is money. If you are not willing to pour hard costs into Facebook promoted posts, Twitter promoted tweets or a simple AdWord campaign, you probably shouldn't be willing spend any time costs in those spaces either.
If we can agree that time is money, social media has never been free.
Limited resources has forced me (along with many other people) to prioritize where my clients spend time online. Where are they going to get the most bang for their buck? We can't piss into the wind and call it marketing strategy or innovation anymore. Algorithms have forced us to actually be strategic with the content brands share online. It's not sustainable to produce mediocre content.
What do you think?
At the end of the day, it's all about the user experience. It's the priority all of these platforms have to keep people using their services. As marketers, we should be equally concerned with user experience.
How have the addition of algorithms and the new pay-to-play approach affected how you prioritize your time?
How have you been affected?
What are you going to do about it?