And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.
(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)
Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:
- The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
- The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.
But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.
Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.
After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.
The answer: dollars.
Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.
The good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.
So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?