Breaking Down Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Algorithms

May 15, 2021 2:53:25 PM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

In the previous post, we discussed the basics of social media algorithms and why businesses should know them. Now, let’s dig deeper into the algorithms of the top social media platforms, specifically Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Millions of conversations and discussions take place on social media every second. Some involve brands and businesses, while others center around celebrities, current affairs, events, and so on. Some are insightful, some are engaging, and some are negative too.

However, to be a part of these conversations and discussions — if that makes sense for your business and brand — you need to understand different algorithms on which these social media platforms function. This helps companies distribute content using the right techniques and strategies to master social media marketing.

Facebook Algorithms

Since Facebook’s inception, the social media giant has always focused on providing users with a personalized experience on their news feeds. In late 2019, Facebook started working toward its commitment to prioritize engaging and meaningful conversations among its users. To quantify interactions as “engaging and meaningful,” Facebook came up with a list of factors. These include:
  • Relevancy score of posts
  • Time spent on posts
  • Prioritization of posts
  • Video engagement
Let’s look at each factor in a little more detail.

Relevancy Score of Posts

Facebook’s algorithm can predict whether a user will comment, click, like, share, hide, or mark a post as spam, to determine its “relevancy score.” Posts with high relevancy scores are visible on the top of news feeds and vice-versa.

Similarly, Facebook ads are given relevancy scores too. This provides both the users with a good experience and benefits businesses and brands that are paying for the ads. The relevancy score for ads is determined by the type of feedback the ads receive from the target audiences.

Time Spent on Posts

According to Facebook’s algorithm, the higher the time users spend on a post, the better will be its position in the news feed. In simpler words, if you spend more time on a post, there’s a high chance it’ll show up on your friends’ news feeds too.

Prioritization of Posts

Based on some recent updates in Facebook’s algorithms, users can now prioritize a friend or page to “see first.” All they need to do is open the “Settings,” click “News Feed Preferences,” and select “Prioritize Who to See First."

Video Engagement

Facebook posts are no longer limited to images and text. Research shows that Facebook video posts generate more organic traffic than posts with images. So, Facebook has started monitoring video posts based on these factors:
  • Enabling high definition
  • Increasing the volume
  • Switching to full-screen mode
Again, in simpler words, if the algorithm identifies that you are performing any of the actions mentioned above, it’ll show similar videos in your news feed. Produce authentic, engaging, and relevant content to improve relevancy scores and time spent on posts, and make the most of video content to draw in users.

Twitter Algorithms

While Twitter is famous for its character cap, understanding the social media platform’s algorithm means appreciating a sense of frequency and urgency.

Twitter prioritizes the following:
  • What’s happening in the moment
  • Credibility
  • Recency
However, this doesn’t mean users can only post breaking news. Twitter is also promoting authentic content that connects people and drives meaningful conversations.

Twitter has come up with a couple of interesting features to tune the “best Tweets” for its users:
  • Show Me the Best Tweets First: This one’s similar to Facebook’s news feed. Tweets that are more relevant are displayed first.
  • While You Were Away: Tweets with high engagement are displayed first. Users cannot activate or deactivate this feature. It will show depending on how frequently someone uses Twitter.

Instagram Algorithms

Instagram’s algorithm works almost like Facebook’s. If you’re planning to use Instagram for your business’ social media marketing, you must know how it works.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram uses machine language to evaluate 6 factors based on which posts are displayed on users’ news feeds:
  • Interest: How interested a user will be in a particular post.
  • Following: The number of people a user follows; the more people a user follows, the less likely they’ll be to see the posts of all the people they follow.
  • Frequency: How often a user uses Instagram will determine what posts they will see when they open the application again.
  • Relationships: A user’s tagged posts, direct messages, and so on, can be used to determine which posts they would like to see.
  • Recency: How recently a post was published can determine where it will show in a user’s news feed.
  • Usage: The time a user spends on the application can impact the content they see.

Everything Trickles Down to the Quality of Content

As you’ve already seen above, in most cases, businesses and brands cannot directly alter the user experience on social media platforms. However, almost all the social media algorithms give higher preference to top-quality content. So, what you can do to draw audiences is post content that’s engaging, relevant, and meaningful because it will help rank your posts higher in the news feeds of different social media platforms.

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