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A Guide to Social Media Algorithms and How They Work

Social media algorithms

Social media has altered our interactions with businesses, brands, and even friends and family. When we have a little extra time on our hands, we just can’t resist the temptation to scroll through a feed. 

Businesses have taken this opportunity to connect with their customers by not only overloading their users with content but also by breaking down communication barriers and appearing more human and relatable. 

Because social media algorithms are constantly changing, it is difficult for marketers to keep up. We can’t know every detail that goes into each change, but we can get a good idea. 

This guide will explain what an algorithm is, the various social media algorithms, and how to optimise your social media marketing, content distribution and engagement. 

What Are Social Media Algorithms? 

Social media algorithms influence how data is sorted based on a set of predetermined rules. These rules govern how content on a user’s feed is sorted. 

Algorithms will use both machine learning and attributed data points to ensure that the content in a feed is more focused on relevance based on users’ interests, encouraging user interaction. 

Algorithms, like everything else in the world, are not always perfect, which is why they are constantly changing to ensure users are getting the best possible content. However, this can be viewed as a challenge by most marketers, who are constantly required to keep up with new rules by changing or adapting their strategies. 

Why Do Social Algorithms Exist? 

On social media, algorithms are used to sort content in a user’s feed. With so much content available, it’s a way for social networks to prioritise content based on a variety of factors.  

As a marketer, that sounds fantastic because it puts your content in front of the right people. But be aware that social media algorithms are far from perfect. An algorithm’s purpose is to filter out irrelevant or low-quality content. If your content does not meet the criteria, it may be buried or hidden from feeds. 

As a fallible system, social networks tweak their algorithms regularly to improve user experience. 

What is the solution? 

Maintain high-quality, relevant, and appealing content while keeping an eye out for algorithm changes to see if your social media strategy needs to be tweaked.  

Now, let’s know, How Social Algorithms Work by Channel? 

On social media networks, algorithms are used to sort content in users’ feeds. There is a lot of content on social media that is published in the form of posts, videos, and photos in a matter of minutes. An algorithm’s primary function is to deliver relevant content to users. 

Different platforms have different types of social media algorithms

Let us look at how algorithms work on social media networking sites

Facebook Algorithm: 

Facebook was the first and foremost social network to implement a useful social media algorithm for its users. Facebook has been focusing on improving and personalising its platform based on user preferences since the creation of the largest social media space to date. 

Because it is no longer just about the like feature, the algorithm that determines the news feed for Facebook Ads has become smoother and more sophisticated. Rather, reaction buttons have been added to the mix set.  

Its algorithm can predict whether users will like, comment, share, or even hide content with a high degree of certainty.  

Popularity:  

Facebook will then use the data from the popularity signal to create a feed based on what the user is most likely to enjoy.  

Content type: 

Facebook encourages all shared content to be visually appealing as well as contextually helpful. A high-quality image, creative video, or graphic animation will raise the quality score of your content and place it in more newsfeeds.  

Relationship: 

Facebook considers whether your brand has an active audience. It takes into account how frequently people engage with your brand’s posts, as well as other relevant subject matter related to your followers’ interests. 

Recency: 

Facebook is now allowing select advertisers to target ads based on the most recent actions users take on Facebook. 

Instagram Algorithm: 

It is based on feed ranking criteria. With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is the most important platform for marketers and business brands. 

Instagram’s algorithm is similar to that of its parent site, Facebook. Its algorithm is built around six criteria: interest, frequency, following, recency, relationship, and usage. 

Using features such as reels and shopping, Instagram users can naturally influence the factors mentioned above by connecting with content outside of their news feeds. 

Frequency: 

If you are constantly on Instagram, your feed may appear chronologically because it will order the information based on your most recent visit. If you are not using the app, it will show you what it thinks you will like based on your past behaviour.  

Interest: 

Instagram strives to provide personalised content to all users. To predict what content to share in someone’s feed, the algorithm analyses past behaviour. Instagram will decide what content to show someone based on their interactions with different types of products, business accounts, personal accounts, media formats, and even hashtags. 

Following: 

Instagram’s algorithm prefers real-world content and interactions over bots. They can tell which interactions are genuine and authentic, so there’s no point in stuffing your content with phoney engagement signals. 

Recency: 

Instagram, like all social media platforms, prefers to focus on what is happening right now. Its algorithm prioritises recent posts over posts older than a week. 

Twitter Algorithm: 

Twitter has traditionally used an innovative approach known as a timeline algorithm, whereas Facebook largely determines what appears in the Facebook News Feed.   

Twitter’s algorithm, like that of other platforms, is constantly evolving. Twitter emphasises two aspects of their algorithm. To begin, Twitter algorithms will provide you with both real-time and algorithm-generated content.   

The minds behind Twitter have experimented with approaches such as showing the best tweet first and a feature for showing the most interesting tweets on your timeline while you are away. 

Engagement: 

Followers who interact with your tweets by commenting, retweeting, and saving content raise your account’s relevancy score. Your tweets take precedence over others in the feed. 

Twitter’s algorithm will continue to tailor tweets in a user’s feed based on who they follow and interact with, as well as their geographic location. 

Activity: 

How many followers do you have, and how active your account is. Algorithms are interested in whether or not the account is active and engaged on the platform. 

Recency:  

Topics that are currently popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a long time or daily. 

Media type: 

Tweets with media (video, GIF, image, and polls) that are relevant to the tweet’s text will be promoted to a much larger audience by Twitter. These types of media tend to generate more engagement than a plain text tweet. If you’re sharing images or videos, make sure they’re the correct size for the platform. 

LinkedIn Algorithm: 

LinkedIn is a professional-oriented social media platform. Its strategy is to prioritise valuable content over recent content. Creating a network is more important than gaining followers. 

As you might expect, the algorithm prioritises content interaction and network strength.  

Here are some other factors that influence LinkedIn’s algorithm: 

Preferred network connections: 

LinkedIn’s social media algorithm is designed to prioritise your network. Personal connections are more important. The algorithm takes into account who you’ve interacted with via comments, shares, and reactions.  

Talking about: 

Understanding a good conversation requires a high level of sophistication. Better conversations, as a rule, are authentic and have a constructive back and forth. 

Things you care about: 

The algorithm on LinkedIn also considers whether the content and conversation are relevant and interesting to the user. It takes into account a variety of signals, such as joining groups and following hashtags, people, and pages. 

YouTube Algorithm: 

Customers wanted better viewing experiences and up-to-date video recommendations, so YouTube changed its algorithm to prioritise viewer satisfaction. They now prioritise content from channels that create videos for their audiences regularly. 

YouTube Search: 

When deciding which video to share in response to a viewer’s search query, YouTube considers keywords. Using keywords that are similar to what a viewer might search for in your video’s title, description, and transcript will boost the relevancy score. 

YouTube Shorts: 

YouTube desires the success of both short and long videos. As a result, relative watch time is more important for short videos, while absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.  

Up Next: 

The suggested videos are ranked based on machine learning’s prediction of which ones the viewers are most likely to watch next. 

Your homepage: 

Videos are chosen based on how frequently viewers watch a channel or topic, how well similar videos have interested and satisfied similar viewers, and how many times each video has already been shown to a viewer on YouTube. 

Conclusion 

All of these social media channels provide significant benefits, including increased brand awareness, website traffic, and product sales. Whatever your brand’s goal, having a deeper understanding of each algorithm will improve the future performance of your content. 

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