What Partners Need to Address Meta’s Video-First Algorithm Changes
Maintaining a presence on social media can often feel like a moving target for businesses, especially when it comes to organic content. Followers can be fleeting and algorithms can change. As early as 2010, when Meta first changed how their algorithm would privilege organic content from Business Pages, businesses have bemoaned their dips in organic reach. It’s an oft told story that has evolved many times over the years, but the fact remains, organic is always quite volatile for businesses – especially on platforms reliant on advertising-based monetization. That’s not to say the challenges are not real for these businesses, they very much are, especially for businesses that carved out revenue streams off of organic content. And it’s not always as simple as assuming platforms are trying to coerce paid placements out of businesses.
In the New York Times article “Food Businesses Lose Faith in Instagram After Algorithm Changes,” author Becky Hughes references Diaspora, a small business who began losing out on organic reach based not on algorithmic changes that undermined organic content for being organic, but rather Instagram’s changes to favor videos over static content. Diaspora’s followers grew to more than 100,000, then the company’s founder noticed dramatic changes.
“I completely credit them for our growth—and then the algorithm changed and our sales dropped horrifyingly,” said Sana Javeri Kadri, the founder of the spice company Diaspora Co. “Up until three months ago, we never paid for ads on Instagram… These aren’t hard numbers, but we used to see 2,000 to 3,000 likes on most posts….now it’s like 200 to 300.”
In the case of Diaspora, it was a change in the way Instagram worked dating back to late 2021. “We’re going to double down on our focus on video'” said Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri. “’We are no longer just a photo-sharing app.”
Many have noted that Meta’s recent focus on Reels and video is likely in the wake of TikTok’s popularity, in which all content is video based. Businesses who post static image content began losing engagement seemingly overnight.
A pivot to Reels requires some video production experience, which has proven a challenge for SMBs. When it comes to comparing the process of editing video vs. editing images, there are few similarities. Photos typically only require staging from a single perspective, and most photo apps can enhance photos automatically. Whereas video production, which can include multiple perspectives, lacks quick fixes for things like sound editing and recording (aside from silence, of course) and generally requires more advanced software.
That makes the notion that SMBs can “simply” switch to video a fraught one. Meta is likely already aware of this challenge, but it also can’t afford to wait any longer, as short form video continues to have staying power, if not permanently, through TikTok’s reach.The solution, as far as paid advertising is concerned, is two-fold:
I. Continue to make it easy for SMBs to deploy effective paid content.
This provides two benefits:
- Businesses that are better equipped and want to continue using static content can effectively promote their way onto feeds using image content in the short term.
- Ensure those businesses that do invest in producing video get a return on that investment through paid placement.
II. SMB tool providers need to adapt around video content.
- Deliver new ways for SMBs to create video content easily through templates and motion graphics.
- Make it simple to utilize existing content across platforms and placements.
In an industry where publishers are able to change algorithms at a whim, it’s become clear that the onus is on SMBs and AdTech providers to meet the changing needs of advertisers, consumers, and the platforms that connect them.
Tiger Pistol has focused on Creative Automation as a key foundational element to our campaign publishing tools. Through this development, we focused both on ways to make static image content better, as well as a means to create video from images or enhance existing video content. We continue to design self-serve collaborative publishing concepts that create campaigns automatically for users in a best practice format. Following on our Creative Automation tooling, this allows our users to easily work with what they already have. Advertising content is automatically placed across multiple Meta placements without the need for multiple versions. Complicated optimization tactics are presented simply, in clear language, such as “Promote Testimonial Video.”