Megan's Social Media Marketing Show - episode 14 - What To Do When the Algorithm Changes

ep14 - What To Do When the Algorithm Changes

show Mar 31, 2021

When the social media algorithm changes on your favorite platform, it could mean all your leads are gone in a moment. I’ve been managing social media accounts for a decade now and I can tell you from experience that it has happened on each platform and will happen again.

In this episode, I’ll cover:

  • What is an algorithm?
  • Different types of algorithm changes
  • The importance of tracking your stats
  • When and how to change your strategies 

You can never algorithm-proof your accounts, but you can prepare for the changes and bounce back when they come.


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Hello, and welcome to Megan's social media marketing show. Today. I'd like to tell you about what to do when the algorithm changes.

Now, if you're not quite sure what an algorithm is, it is the computer calculation that is programmed into all of our platforms that decides when and which post you get to see next based upon what you've liked and commented on before, also based upon what's popular amongst all the posts on that platform. 

Whenever an algorithm changes, creators don't like it, because that usually means that we have to change and adjust our strategies. So if you clicked play, you probably have had this happen to you at some time or another.

I've been doing this for nearly a decade now, and I can tell you that algorithm changes, major platform changes, and feature updates have happened on every single platform at one time or another. Eventually, the dust will settle and it'll even back out and you'll adjust your strategy and it will be all right. This episode is to give you a few tips to help weather the storm. 

First of all, know that there are different types of algorithm changes. Algorithms, by definition, grow and change over time. They are artificial intelligence. As it's gathering all of the data on the entire platform, it is adjusting and changing as it goes.

There are gradual algorithm changes. For example, when video posts started being promoted and used over and over on all the different platforms, it has now grown to be the most popular content vehicle, but this happened gradually over time as technology improved, as we all got cameras in our back pockets that we could video immediately and very high-quality video with that. That is a gradual change that's happened to the algorithms. You wouldn't have seen a drop in your stats immediately for video.

However, there are algorithm changes that are major across an entire platform and very intentional that often the platform will make an announcement about, sometimes it accompanies a new feature. For example, when Instagram added Reels this summer, it was a major change across the whole platform and changed both the design and the features. It definitely uprooted and upended, a lot of people's strategies and their engagement rates.

The first tip is to check the official communication of that platform. All platforms have a blog and their own account on their own platforms that you can check to see what they say. They'll tell you "we changed this and this is now what we're prioritizing it." So you can keep an eye on your stats for what's happening there. 

Secondly, is to keep track of those stats. If you have not, start right now. Listen to episode 12 where I talked about the important stats. That one was specifically about Instagram, but every platform has there different metrics for how things are performing.

They all track followers and engagements and reach in some capacity. So knowing what those are and consistently tracking them over time helps you to have the data to know: How is this affecting my account? It might feel major at the moment and that they've hugely tanked, but then if a month or two goes by, you might see that, "Oh, that was just a blip." Everything has evened out and come back, which happens a lot of the time, so keep calm and carry on with what you're doing. 

My next tip is don't panic. Don't stop posting. Don't stop your strategy or completely flip it right now, because that would jeopardize what you're already doing, the credit, and trust the algorithm has in you currently. The algorithm will have to recalculate. You'll freak out. It'll freak out, and both you and the algorithm will be freaked out. Keep calm, continue on with your current strategy.

Then once you've evaluated, what is actually happening, what is changing, and how you might be able to use that to your advantage.

Test out a few new posts outside of your usual strategy. Keep up your usual strategy, but add a few different posts with the new algorithm, whatever the new algorithm is prioritizing, and see how they perform.

Do not, however, try it once or twice and make the judgment upon that because it could be for a multitude of factors that it didn't work. You may have shared at the wrong time, the wrong day. It might not have been a message that your audience particularly liked. You need to test a dozen or two dozen times and then you'll have an accurate set of data to compare and judge whether or not this new type of post will work for your audience or what your audience likes to see in this new kind of post.

Continue on with your current strategies, try adding some new different types of posts. Test it out for a month, two months, maybe even three months, and then evaluate, see how it's affected.

See also what you might change beyond what that new algorithm is prioritizing. Maybe your content has grown stale in some places and you can tweak it a little bit to help get even more engagement out of what you're already posting.

If there's anything I want you to take away from this episode is that algorithm changes happen on all platforms and it sucks sometimes. It's not your fault. It's not anything you did, but you can recover from it. Keep calm, do not panic. Do not change what you're doing correctly, but test and evaluate and be open-minded then see how it does over time. Eventually, things will even out, you'll find your footing again, and you'll grow as you were before. I hope this is a great encouragement to you. Keep calm and carry on.