Your Guide to Understanding Social Media Algorithms

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Your Guide to Understanding Social Media Algorithms

Social media algorithms play a crucial role in the success of any digital marketing strategy. These complex mathematical formulas are used by popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to name a few, to determine what content users see on their feeds. But what exactly are algorithms in social media? Furthermore, why is it important for businesses to track and monitor them? In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about social media algorithms and provide tips on how to leverage them in the years to come.

What Are Social Media Algorithms?

In simple terms, social media algorithms are a set of rules that dictate the content users see on their feeds. These algorithms are constantly evolving and are designed to show users the most relevant and engaging content based on their interests, behaviours, and interactions.

As a business, understanding and tracking social media algorithms is crucial for several reasons:

Reaching Your Target Audience

By monitoring algorithms, businesses can understand what kind of content and interactions appeal to their target audience. This allows you to create more targeted and effective content that can reach a wider audience.

Increase Engagement

With algorithms constantly changing, businesses need to stay on top of the latest updates and trends. By doing so, you can leverage these changes to increase engagement and reach more potential customers.

Stay Ahead of Competitors

Tracking social media algorithms also allows businesses to keep an eye on what their competitors are doing. By analysing their strategies and performance, businesses can gain insights into how to differentiate themselves and stand out in the crowded social media landscape.

Social Media Algorithms of Top Platforms

Facebook Algorithm

With over 2 billion active users, Facebook stands as the largest social media platform to date. To ensure content moderation on the platform, Facebook employs a variety of algorithms to determine what content users will find intriguing. The upgraded algorithm takes into account the following factors:

  • Timing: Facebook’s algorithm places a high priority on timing as a crucial signal for ranking content in users’ feeds, ensuring maximum visibility.
  • Demographics: The user’s location, language, and gender play a significant role in predicting their content preferences, allowing for more personalised recommendations.
  • Account credibility: The algorithm assigns higher rankings to accounts with credibility, a strong following, and engaging content, showcasing their expertise and success.
  • Content type: Facebook’s algorithm gives priority to the type of posts users engage with the most, ensuring that users receive more of the content they enjoy, such as videos for avid viewers.
  • Relevance: Posts containing similar keywords or hashtags are recommended to users with shared interests, ensuring that users discover content aligned with their passions.
  • Engagement levels: High engagement, including comments, shares, and likes, serves as an indicator of quality content. Facebook values meaningful posts, prioritising them for higher rankings.
  • Facebook connections: Content from the accounts users follow takes precedence over those they don’t follow, fostering a sense of connection and relevance.

Instagram Algorithm

Instagram, with its diverse algorithms and sections like Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, and Search, stands out as one of the most versatile social media platforms. As Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explains, these sections employ advanced algorithms, classifiers, and processes to personalise content recommendations based on user behaviour. This ensures that users receive tailored and relevant content throughout their Instagram experience.

Instagram Feed

Your Instagram feed is a curated blend of content from accounts you follow, akin profiles you’re likely to enjoy, and personalised ads. Within the feed, posts are prioritised based on several factors:

  • Post recency: Recent posts from accounts take precedence, appearing before older ones.
  • People you follow: Posts from those you follow naturally appear in your feed. For creators, this means that increasing your follower count enhances your visibility.
  • User activity: Posts you’ve liked, shared, saved, or commented on reflect your content preferences.
  • Content type: Users who prefer photos will see more photos, while those who enjoy videos and carousels will have those types of content showcased.
  • Post information: Posts with high engagement, such as likes, shares, comments, and saves, indicate relevance to users with similar interests or locations.
  • Interaction history: Your engagement with an account’s posts and the frequency of your interactions influence the appearance of their content in your feed.

Instagram Stories

Stories is an incredible in-app feature that empowers users to effortlessly share captivating photos or videos that vanish within 24 hours. The ranking factors for stories are remarkably similar to those of the IG Feed. Stories cleverly utilize engagement signals, including:

  • Viewing history: Consistently viewing an account’s stories would significantly contribute to its prioritization.
  • Engagement history: Liking or responding to stories serves as a powerful engagement metric that undeniably influences story rankings.
  • Closeness: The algorithm takes into account your relationship with the story’s creator, encompassing mutual follows, shared locations, and DM interactions.

Instagram Explore

Explore simplifies the discovery of new posts without requiring active search. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like on Instagram:

The grid consists of content recommendations from accounts you don’t follow, carefully curated by Instagram to cater to your interests. Factors taken into consideration by Instagram include:

  • User’s past interaction: The ranking of content is influenced by your previous engagements with posts.
  • Post popularity: The visibility of content is influenced by the number of likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  • User’s explore activity: Your interaction history on the Explore page, including liked posts and similar content, is taken into account.
  • Account information: The frequency of your interaction with the account in the past few weeks is considered.

Instagram Reels

Reels are designed for users to explore new content from accounts they don’t follow, similar to Explore. Key signals for Reels content include:

  • User’s activity: Recent interactions with Reels, such as likes, saves, shares, comments, and engagement.
  • Interaction history: Your interaction history with accounts, even if you don’t follow them.
  • Relevance: The content’s relevance is determined by popularity signals like likes, saves, and comments.
  • Account information: An account’s popularity, including follower count and engagement level, informs content recommendation.

LinkedIn Algorithm

LinkedIn’s algorithm incorporates various ranking signals that greatly influence the success of a post on the platform. Here are key factors to keep in mind:

  • Emphasis on quality: LinkedIn’s algorithm categorizes posts into three groups: spam, low-quality, and high-quality.
  • Relevance matters: The algorithm evaluates post relevance based on keywords, hashtags, and comments.
  • Engagement prediction: Through machine learning models, LinkedIn predicts post engagement, particularly in the initial hour.
  • Prioritizing personal connections: LinkedIn’s algorithm gives priority to posts from your 1st-degree connections and those you actively engage with.

  • Consistency is rewarded: Pages that regularly post content are rewarded with greater visibility.
  • Building credibility: Author expertise, insightful content, and meaningful comments enhance post ranking.
  • Considering recency: Recent posts hold significance for LinkedIn’s algorithm.
  • Content type preferences: The algorithm favours short-form videos and well-structured long-form content.

Six Tips: Stay Ahead of Social Media Algorithms 

In an era of dynamic digital landscapes, staying ahead of social media algorithms and optimizing social media content is paramount. Here are some valuable tips to consider:

Regularly Update Your Social Media Strategy

With rapidly changing algorithms, it is crucial to frequently revise your social media strategy. Regularly analyse your metrics, understand what’s working, and what’s not, and adjust your content and engagement tactics accordingly.

Embrace Variety in Content

Diversifying your content is beneficial. Mix up your posts with videos, images, infographics, quotes, and user-generated content. This not only keeps your content fresh and engaging but also helps you learn what content your audience prefers.

Engage with Your Audience

Engaging with your audience is a surefire way to improve your performance. Promptly reply to comments, ask for feedback, conduct polls, and create interactive stories. This promotes an active community and increases the likelihood of your content being shown in your followers’ feeds.

Optimise Your Posting Times

Every social media platform has optimal posting times when users are most active. Leverage social media analytics to identify these times for your audience and schedule your posts accordingly.

Use Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags make your content discoverable and can help you reach your targeted audience. Use popular and relevant hashtags, but remember to not overdo it.

Leverage AI Tools

With advancements in AI, predictive analytics tools can provide insights to optimize your content and timing for each social media platform. These tools can analyse trends and make data-driven predictions about what content will perform well in the future.

Remember, algorithms are not enemies but tools that can assist you in enhancing your social media presence. By understanding and leveraging these algorithms, you can steer your social media strategy in a direction that ensures optimal engagement and growth. When in doubt, consider working with digital marketing experts like Digital Squad. Backed with over 15 years of experience, our team is equipped with the skills and sense to stay ahead of social media algorithms and evolve strategies. Contact us today for more information.

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