A 2023 Guide to Social Media Algorithms 

Find out how to navigate social media algorithms!

We’re living in the age of social media right now. People use these apps and sites for entertainment and to stay on top of the news. Nobody reads newspapers for the latest happenings. They’re all up there on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In fact, even if you do read a newspaper, you’ll likely find breaking news from social media before you have a chance to pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV. But how does this happen? Well, it’s all thanks to social media algorithms. 

There’s a ton of content on these platforms. So who decides which content to show you and what you don’t really need to see? Social media algorithms work in the background for every user and present them with content they’re most likely to enjoy. But how do these algorithms work? Let’s dive into the details!

What Is a Social Media Algorithm?

We’ve all heard the word algorithm once in our lives. But we don’t really pay attention to it or try to understand it, right? You might have heard an influencer or a social media personality say the algorithm’s messed up their reach. What do they mean by this? Simply put, a social media algorithm is a set of rules that dictate what content you’ll see when you open a social media app. Algorithms take a lot into account to decide which posts users are most interested in and likely to engage with. Since it’s considering your personal interests and social media usage, your feed is going to be entirely unique. This is even if you follow the same accounts and pages as your friends. 

Source: Sprout Social

Why Are Social Media Algorithms Important?

To the average social media user, the algorithm is useless. But for businesses, brands and marketers, it’s quite a valuable piece of information. Why, you ask? Marketers want their content to reach the maximum number of people. Only when the maximum number of people have viewed and engaged with it will it bring about the best results. But what if people don’t see your content even when they’re following you? The algorithm is certainly at play here. 

It’s worth understanding that the algorithm works to benefit the user and not content creators. Its purpose is to show content that is relevant to them and will be liked. As such, marketers have to adjust their content strategies accordingly. If you want your content to be seen and liked by people, you must understand how the algorithm works and cater to it. Your marketing efforts will be wasted if you create irrelevant content that doesn’t meet the algorithm’s standards. 

Now we’ll explain how the algorithms of the most popular social media platforms work and how to survive them.

Instagram Algorithm Explained

Instagram has one of the most complicated algorithms out of all social media networks, and it’s been tough to crack. In 2016, Instagram moved away from the reverse-chronological feed. The company announced the new feed would prioritize “the moments you care about.” At the time, it was a vague statement, but marketers have broken it down since. The main ranking signals for the Instagram algorithm are; Interests, Relationships, Frequency, Usage, and Timeliness. 

Interests are topics you’ve engaged with before, so you’ll see a lot of food ASMR content if you’ve ever shown interest in either ASMR or food. You will likely see more posts from people you follow, whose posts you like or comment on, or message, i.e., have a relationship with. The more you use Instagram (frequency), is also considered in what posts you see at the top of your feed. Your usage and history of interactions with people and accounts will factor into what content appears the most on your feed. 

Facebook Algorithm Explained

Your feed on Facebook is just like on Instagram. After all, Facebook is the parent company here. Facebook has said that its feed “shows you stories that are meaningful and informative.” This means that the algorithm uses three main signals to rank posts and show you the most relevant and meaningful content. The first is who posts the content. You will see more content from people and businesses that you follow and interact with. Next, there is the type of content. If you watch and like videos more than pictures or links, the algorithm will show you more of those. Here, it takes your preferences into account more. The last signal is engagement. If a piece of content has a lot of engagement, it will show up on your feed. Especially if there’s a post that all of your friends have interacted with. 

Twitter Algorithm Explained

Twitter’s algorithm has always been shrouded in a lot of mystery and has been repeatedly called a black box. There has been a lot of debate around this algorithm since Twitter is a very complex platform, to begin with. But since the buyout of the company last year, Elon Musk has promised to reveal the workings of the Twitter algorithm so the full potential of the platform can be unlocked. 

The first thing to know here is that the Twitter timeline is a mix of two things; content from the algorithm and real-time content. This complicates things, but users can always turn off the algorithm. But that’s certainly not great for marketers and businesses. The most significant ranking factor here is recency. Tweets published in real-time show up first on your timeline. After recency, engagement and media type plays a big role too. The more interactions a tweet has or better media types (GIFs, video, etc.), the more the algorithm will favor it. 

TikTok Algorithm Explained

TikTok is the biggest sensation right now in the world of social media. Taking the marketing world by storm, TikTok showed us the innate potential of short-form videos. And since then, every other social media network has jumped on the bandwagon. But you must know that TikTok has another unique quality that sets it apart from other social media networks. And that is how its algorithm works. 

TikTok’s top priority is promoting new content that is relevant and engaging. This is why there is the For You page. This special feed factors user interaction, captions, hashtags, device and account settings, among other things, to show you good and organic content. Follower count is not a signaling factor. This puts small and big accounts on the same pedestal and makes the competition fair for everyone. 

Incorporate Social Media Algorithms Into Your Marketing!

Social media platforms are nothing without their algorithm. These sets of rules and formulae are a critical part of the inner workings of social media. They go through millions of pieces of content and rank them on different factors. And the best content is forwarded to your feed to view and enjoy. How you interact with this content is again used as data input for the algorithm for your future feed. This is why marketers need to analyze and understand these algorithms. It will help them align their marketing strategies with the goals of the platform they’re using and bring about better results. 

Have you seen a part of the algorithm work? Let us know in the comments below!

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