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Why Do Social Media Giants Change Without Notice?

By Hector Cisneros
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The Times They Are A-Changin” – so wrote Bob Dylan several decades ago, but I don’t think he had in mind the Changes that are constantly occurring in Social Media. I woke up on the 23rd of March and found that Hootsuite (the tool I use to post to social media) only allowed me to post to one Twitter account at a time. The month before that, Facebook announced (after they made changes) that there were altering (again) how news feed post would be filtered. Soon after purchasing LinkedIn, Microsoft totally revamped what you could do and how you could use that social network. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore the positive and negative effects caused by social media evolution. We will delve into why these changes occur, and what you as a subscriber can do to make sure these changes have a minimal effect on your business and personal social life. Now let’s dig into these never-ending changes.

Does Social Media Listen to its Subscribers and Advertisers? - Most Social Networks don’t provide a way for you to call them to ask questions. They do provide a way to email them, however, it takes them a long time to respond, (if actually they do)! Since the beginning of social networking, these networks have embarked on an endless implementation of features, methods and experiments.  I’m not against change. I love change for the better! However, I am not a fan of arbitrary or reactionary changes. I want some notice and some training to go along with the changes.

There are many studies that show most individuals don’t like change! One such
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study called “Longer is Better” points out how the longevity of “something,” equates to that “something” being better. People resist change for many reasons. In an article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, she lists ten reasons why people don’t like change. I agree with all of her reasons. Now don’t get me wrong. I have been referred to as a bleeding edge personality. That’s the kind of person who always wants the latest and greatest technology out there. And for the most part, this is true. But when I have to totally relearn a software application, or redo a complete marketing strategy, I get upset. Even worse, I get angry and resentful that I was not informed that this change was imminent.

To make matters worse, social media giants (and other Internet players) often make these changes without providing any support for the changes that have taken place. No educational documents, no training video or online tutorial, just bang – change with little or no notice. As far as I am concerned, this behavior on the part of large Social Media and Internet giants is inexcusable! They have the capability to notify every subscriber and advertiser of imminent changes. More importantly, they should provide support to make the transitions smooth and less stressful. But the fact is they don’t! 

The Mistakes of the Past are Repeated - In the past, I have written about my disdain for the constant unheralded seemingly reactionary changes instituted by
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Giant Social Media Companies. I recently wrote in an article called “Is Facebook Losing Face with Business?”,  how the constant changes of the Facebook timeline algorithms have negatively impacted business advertisers. And this is not the first time I have broached this subject. Several years back, I wrote the article called “The Ever-Changing Faces of Facebook.” This article again addresses algorithm timeline changes that had a similar effect on businesses. In an article by Alfred Lua, he provides “An Updated List of Facebook's Algorithm Changes” over the past five years. In fact, Facebook has made at least 28 major timeline algorithm changes since 2013.

Facebook's constant algorithm machinations have spawned a negative grassroots viral hashtag campaign called # DeleteFacebook. Recently, even Elon Musk has jumped on the bandwagon of detesting Facebooks constant algorithm problems. A recent New York Times article called Elon Musk Joins #DeleteFacebook With a Barrage of Tweets talks about how he feels.  Elon Musk has long been at odds with AI Algorithms used by tech giants. Now, the selling of personal information to consulting firms by Facebook is the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. He is just one of a growing number of Tech exec’s calling for the abandonment of Facebook usage.

Other Social Networks Go Awry - Facebook is not the only culprit when it comes
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to these mostly unheralded changes. Recently Twitter and even LinkedIn have been monkeying with their social sites in a big way. For example; LinkedIn revamped its interface to make it more closely resemble its mobile version. However, when they did this, they also eliminated several much-beloved features as well. Read my article called “How to Leverage the Latest Changes in LinkedIn” for more details.

Not to be outdone, Twitter has made many changes to its social network. Recently it increased the number of characters that a post could have from 140 to 280 - a welcome change for some but hated by others. They have vastly increased the social network's ability to handle video (something the porn industry has taken advantage of). And now they have changed how many accounts you can post to simultaneously. This posting change makes it harder for brands to get their message out in a cost-effective manner.  Where in the past a Brand could post its message to their multiple accounts on Tweet Deck or Hootsuite, now they can only post to one account at a time. This increases labor costs substantially.

Why is this Happening? - So why are social media giants making so many changes to their algorithms, policies, and method of operation? One reason is that
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they are honestly trying to improve their social networks. To stay on top, every business must evolve or get passed by its competitors. Another reason is direction changes instituted by leadership or upgrades to use technological advances. For example; when Google changed CEO’s not long ago, they radically dismantled parts of Google Plus, their social network. When new advances in artificial intelligence algorithms came about, many internet giants began incorporating them into their internet products. These changes, no doubt lower labor cost but also raised the specter of A.I. Algorithms run amok as well. Read my article called “Are Internet Algorithms giving Mary Shelley a run for her Frankenstein Monster?”.

The Double-Edged Sword - Social Media is proving to be quite the double-edge sword. The internet and its social giants have done lots of good. They have connected billions of people in ways both good and bad. They have made it possible for the consumer to call out bad products and companies. This gives consumers a semblance of control over the quality of products and services they receive.  But as will all powerful tools there is a dark side. The billions of subscribers these social media giants have garnered provides them with tons of influence and power. A power that the news recently exposed to be easily abused, misused, corrupted and co-opted by others.

The Chickens Come Home to Roost - It is no wonder why many tech CEO’s are calling for better government oversight, greater transparency and a reduction in the
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power these companies wield. I for one would like to see all of these changes instituted. But I still want more. For example; I would like to see social media giants provide an announcement of any major change to their social networks to their subscribers via direct message at least a month before the changes are made. I would ask that they also provide adequate educational support to help subscribers and advertisers adjust to these changes. And lastly, I would require that they provide direct user and advertiser support including a phone number, even if it’s a paid support number. This is one thing Google has done well, especially for its paid advertising services.

Rapid changes to social networks and other internet applications cost billions of dollars and countless hours of re-learning for all who use the internet. I have no objection to change for the better or more efficient use of applications.  However, many of the ongoing changes we see are not the product of making things better or more efficient. Many are the reactionary results of unrestrained CEO egos, out of control experimental A.I. Algorithms, abuse or misuse of applications or policies that were not well thought out or outright corporate greed. We have written about these changes many times over the years. Here is a short list of articles we have written in the last few years that address how rapid Internet product changes (social media and others) have affected our lives and the way we conduct our business.  

The Discontent is Growing - A wave of discontent hangs over social media today. A lot of people are frustrated with all the changes and negative shenanigans occurring in the social media world. If you’re looking to get off the social media bandwagon, you can delete your social media account and go back to using email or text messages. Better still, call your friends, get together for lunch or dinner and actually interact on a more face to face level. You can find out how to take control away from the social media giants by searching the help section and entering “how to delete my account.” You can delete your Facebook account by reading the information on this link.  

If you’re not ready to pull the plug on social media, you will need to level up your research and reading. To find out when changes are coming to your favorite social network, you will need to subscribe to their blog or news sites and regularly scan for an article announcing changes.  I don’t see any social network going the extra
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mile to provide early disclosure as a direct message to its subscribers. I recommend that all social network subscribers use the most powerful weapon we have as individuals and businesses: Complain!!!  Complain if you don’t like something that a social network is doing. If you’re an advertiser, complain and pull your ads. All social networks are businesses, and they pay attention when something begins to hurt their pocketbook. We as consumers must remember that social networking is not free. We pay for its use by providing our information and content. In turn, the social networks sell access to this information. More importantly, social networks have evolved into a “new form” of news media. Because of this, they must provide information that is truthful, unbiased and that protects the interest of all users. They must make sure their social networks are not abused or co-opted to manipulate trends and opinions, (that's the job of advertising). It’s the responsibility of every individual to step-up and air their voices when these internet giants step out of line.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article explores the current problems associated with social media giants like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others associated with their advertising abuse and frequent changes. Several scandals and problems are discussed as to why these problems persist. Solutions are provided that could reduce these types of issues in the future. The article further includes links to various vendors, other articles, and resources as well.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.

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