Understanding what social media algorithms are and how to use them to your advantage

Before the rise of social media algorithms, posts would show up in reverse chronological order with the newest posts on top. Today however, social networks prioritize content for you. Essentially, they sort posts in a feed based on relevancy instead of when it was published.

Social media algorithms are the powerful little formulas used to help sift through content and deliver what they view as only “relevant content” to your audience.

Algorithms on social media platforms are always changing and shifting and it’s important for marketers to understand them.

In this post we want to break down what you need to know about them so you can rise above and so your content can show up in more people’s news feeds.

How do social media algorithms work?

Algorithms function to deliver relevant content to you and your customers’ news feeds. They use machine learning and data science to sort data and rank posts based on criteria that most marketers can’t follow. Some networks are honest about what content they’re looking for or view as high-quality content on their platform.

Facebook recently changed their algorithm to rank posts each user sees in the order they’re most likely to enjoy them based on factors called ranking signals.

Ranking signals are data points about users’ behavior. For instance, are people sharing a certain post with friends? How often do you like posts from your co-worker? A business? Do you watch live videos? What do you re-post?

Facebook considers three major categories of ranking signals:

  • Who a user typically interacts with
  • The type of media in the post (eg., video, link, photo, etc.)
  • The popularity of the post

Instagram on the other hand states that your personal feed evolves over time based on how you use the platform. What shows up first is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most as well as other factors such as timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many accounts you follow and more.

There are six main factors that influence the Instagram algorithm including:

  1. Interest
  2. Relationship
  3. Timeliness
  4. Frequency
  5. Following
  6. Usage

They also clarified earlier this year that they:

  • Do not hide posts in the feed and you’ll see everything posted by everyone you follow if you keep scrolling.
  • Don’t favor users who use Stories, Live, or other special features of the app.
  • Don’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach.

How to get the most views: understanding and outsmarting the algorithms

Getting views and engagement on social media today requires some understanding of how to craft posts that the algorithms are looking for. This is where we can help you! Our social media writers know how to craft posts that will optimize your engagement on all of your social media accounts so that your posts are being seen, gaining followers, converting leads and more. Plus, we can provide reports and statistics to back this up for you each month.

The more engagement your content gets, the more likely you are to be “rewarded” by the algorithms. An easy way to do this is by asking questions to your followers. Tagging other accounts can also invite other users to check out and share your content.

Here are a few other tips to remember:

  • Publish frequently. No matter what network you are active on, make sure you stay “active.” Algorithms usually reward accounts that post frequently, so we recommend coming up with a content calendar that has you posting regularly to each network. We can help you create and manage this.
  • Publish more videos. Algorithms are rewarding more and more video content published to their platform (and not an external link). So, share your mini commercials, interviews and more.
  • Start conversations where people talk with each other. This is particularly helpful on Facebook where one of the algorithm’s key signals is whether a user has previously engaged with your Page. Likes and shares go a long way increasing your future posts’ reach.
  • Post when your audience is active. Determine when your audience is most active and post when they’re online. B2B brand posts usually perform best between 9am and 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and B2C brand posts usually perform better around noon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

How to check engagement

As a digital marketer, you work hard to build your following online and for your audience to engage with your posts. And when you achieve higher engagement rates, your audience grows.

Follow a few simple steps to see your engagement on Facebook and Instagram, or let us help you do this each month.

The last thing you want to do is waste your time creating posts no one is seeing.

To get started decoding and overcoming the social media algorithms, call us today!