Think of the time when you liked a post about healthy eating on Instagram, and suddenly started to find so many wellness related posts and reels! That’s the job of social media algorithms! When you liked the post, the algorithm took note of the content of the post, the hashtags used, and other metadata associated with the post, such as the account that posted it.
The algorithm then used this information to identify other posts that are similar in content or topic, and showed them to you in your feed. If comprehending algorithms on social media is one of your biggest marketing challenges, read on!
Table of Contents
What are social media algorithms?
An algorithm in social media is defined as a set of rules and calculations used by social media platforms to determine what content to show you. The algorithm analyzes various factors, such as your past behavior, preferences, and engagement with other users, to tailor your experience and optimize engagement.
(It’s important to keep in mind that these algorithms are just educated guesses based on research and observation.)
Now, how to decode social media algorithms? The best way to do this is to experiment, learn from your results, and adapt your strategy accordingly.
How do social media algorithms work broadly?
- Relevance: Social media algorithms aim to show you the most relevant content based on your interests, recent activity, and engagement history.
- Engagement: Posts that receive a lot of likes, comments, shares, or saves are more likely to appear in your feed.
- Timelines: Social media algorithms also consider how recently a post was published, and prioritize newer content over older posts.
Overall, social media algorithms are designed to maximize user engagement and keep them on the platform for longer periods of time.
However, the specific factors used by different algorithms can vary from platform to platform, and may change over time.
Understanding Social Media Algorithms (of 2023) by Platform:
Facebook’s news feed algorithm presents relevant content from individuals, brands, and groups that users are already connected with, although not exclusively.
Facebook has outlined four steps that the algorithm uses to determine the sequence of content shown in a user’s feed:
- Inventory: The algorithm considers all available content from pages, groups, and people that you are connected to. The recommended content and ads are also based on your Facebook activity.
- Signals: The ranking signals include factors like who is posting (friends and businesses you frequently interact with), what form of content you engage more with, and which all posts have higher interaction rates.
- Predictions: The algorithm analyzes data from the ranking factors to predict which content you will appreciate the most.
- Relevance: Each piece of content is evaluated based on its relevance score, with posts that score the highest placed nearer to the top of your feed.
The Instagram algorithm for the feed has undergone significant changes over the last few years and now it prioritizes interest primarily. The algorithm evaluates posts based on five primary interactions to determine their placement on your home feed. These include:
- The amount of time spent on the post
- The probability of liking the post
- The probability of commenting on the post
- The probability of saving the post
- The probability of tapping on the profile after viewing the post
But how does it accurately rank the content in your feed and stories? It uses several ranking signals such as details about the post- whether it is a photo or a video, when it was uploaded, and the number of likes it has received. Information of who has posted it is also taken into consideration with regards to how appealing they are to you, whether they are a friend, and how frequently you interact with their content.
Furthermore, the algorithm considers your own activity patterns, such as what type of content form you typically engage with, as well as your history of interactions, such as whether you tend to like or comment on a poster’s content.
Talking about Instagram and not mentioning Reels seems unreasonable in the present time. After all Reels has over 2 billion monthly active users. (Source: Instagram)
Let’s understand the algorithm of Instagram Reels:
- The Reels you have liked, commented on, and engaged with, all contribute to Instagram’s understanding of your interests.
- Your interaction history with the creator of the Reel is also taken into account. Even if you haven’t heard of a creator before, if you have engaged with their content in the past, Instagram factors that in as well. This may be why you see content from creators you know of but haven’t followed yet.
- Details about the Reel itself are analyzed, including the audio track and visual content, to infer what the video is about. It also considers the popularity of the video.
- Information about the creator of the Reel is evaluated. This includes the engagement of their audience and the consistency of likes and shares their content receives.
Like all other platforms, to increase visibility and engagement on LinkedIn, it is important to create high-quality content that is relevant to your audience and encourages engagement. Let’s get into the details:
- LinkedIn first determines whether your post is spam or authentic based on several factors.
- Using poor grammar, multiple links, or hashtags like #comment, #like, or #follow, can make your post be flagged as spam. Additionally, posting too frequently or tagging too many people can also lead to your post being marked as spam.
- Posts that are not spam but do not follow content best practices are considered low-quality.
- The posts that likely to be considered high-quality content by LinkedIn are the ones that are easy to read, encourage responses with a question, use three or fewer hashtags, incorporate strong keywords, and only tag people who are likely to respond.
- If your post is not spam, the LinkedIn algorithm will initially show it to a few of your followers. If there is significant engagement with your post, LinkedIn will display it to a larger audience. However, if your post does not receive any engagement or if your audience reports it as spam or hides it from their feeds, LinkedIn will not share it with additional users. For this, you will have to figure out the best times to post on social media.
Here’s a tip: Consider publishing your post at a time when you know your followers are active on LinkedIn. Additionally, you can encourage interaction by incorporating a question or prompt in your post.
- Now if your post is receiving engagement, the algorithm will begin displaying it to a broader audience. Here ranking signals come into the picture. These factors include your closeness to the user, user’s interest and their probability of engagement.
When more than 500 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute,(1) it becomes all the more important to decode its algorithm.
Apparently, YouTube uses two types of ranking signals to select videos for the homepage: performance and personalization. Performance is measured using various metrics such as click-through rate, average view duration, likes, dislikes, and viewer surveys. Personalization refers to YouTube’s practice of offering videos to users based on their past behavior and watch history.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. Thus, it is also important to learn what determines its search algorithm. The platform’s search algorithm relies on the keywords used in your video’s metadata to determine its content. Yes! Keywords are Important here as well!
Once YouTube’s algorithm has established the content of your video, it will test its performance by displaying it in search results. If your video effectively engages and satisfies viewers who are looking for content related to your chosen keywords, it will be shown to even more people and improve its ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
As evident, social media algorithms play a crucial role in determining what content users see on their feeds. All the platforms use complex algorithms that take into account various factors. These include user behavior, relevance, engagement, and quality to determine which posts and videos to display to users.
There are both pros and cons of social media algorithms. However, figuring out these algorithms is essential for improving your chances of achieving your social media goals.
Want to stay up-to-date with the latest changes to ensure continued success on social media platforms? We, at CT, can be your reliable partners in organic growth and paid marketing!
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Decoding social media algorithms can be challenging, as algorithms are complex and constantly evolving. However, here are some general tips that can help you understand and work with social media algorithms:
- Keep yourself informed about the latest updates and changes in the algorithms through official blogs, forums, and other credible sources.
- Understand the algorithm factors such as relevance, engagement, recency, personal connections, and others.
- Analyze the data from your social media profiles to see what kind of content gets the most engagement and reach.
- Test different content formats, posting times, and other variables to see what performs best.
It's not possible to "beat" social media algorithms, as they are designed to promote relevant and engaging content to users. However, you can optimize your content to improve its visibility and reach on social media platforms. Here are some tips to improve your chances of success:
- Post content that offers value
- Use the right keywords and hashtags, ones that are relevant to your content and your target audience.
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments, asking questions, and running polls.
- Figure out the best times to post on social media.
- Post regularly and consistently to keep your audience engaged and to signal to the algorithm that you are an active and reliable content creator.
- Experiment with different content formats, such as videos, real images, infographics.
Social media platforms use different algorithms to determine what content to show to users. Here are some of the most common algorithms used in social media:
- Relevance: This algorithm prioritizes content that is most relevant to the user based on their past behavior, interests, and connections.
- Engagement: This algorithm prioritizes content that has the highest engagement rate, such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks.
- Recency: This algorithm prioritizes content that is most recent, such as posts or updates that were shared in the last few hours or days.
- Personal connections: This algorithm prioritizes content from people or accounts that the user is connected to, such as friends, family, and colleagues.
- Interest: This algorithm prioritizes content based on the user's interests, hobbies, and activities, which are often inferred from their past behavior on the platform.
- Trends: This algorithm identifies and promotes content that is currently trending or popular among a large number of users.
- Filter bubbles: Social media algorithms can create "filter bubbles" that reinforce users' existing beliefs and perspectives by promoting content that aligns with their interests and opinions. This can lead to a lack of exposure to diverse viewpoints and a limited understanding of the world.
- Addiction and overuse: Social media algorithms are designed to keep users engaged and spending more time on the platform, which can lead to addiction and overuse.
- Disinformation and misinformation: Social media algorithms can promote and spread disinformation and misinformation by prioritizing content that is sensational or controversial, regardless of its accuracy or reliability.
- Polarization and division: Social media algorithms can promote extreme and divisive content that can contribute to social and political polarization and division. This can lead to hostility and intolerance towards others with different opinions or beliefs.