Understanding and Using Social Media Algorithms

May 15, 2021 2:29:20 PM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

If you think social media (for business purposes) is only about sharing pictures and posts, you’re wrong. Different social media platforms draw different types of audiences, encourage a different genre or style of content, and deliver different types of results. Plus, each social media platform is working toward creating an excellent user experience. The combinations of adjustments and innovations to deliver what users want are known as social media algorithms.

All the leading social media platforms are leveraging algorithms to customize their feeds and create better experiences for their users. However, each algorithm works differently. They are also constantly changing and it’s not easy to track them. In this two-part blog series on social media algorithms, we’ll tell you what they are and how differently the social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are using them.

What Are Social Media Algorithms?

Social media algorithms comprise data and rules that define what users see on the platform. Each social media platform creates unique algorithms for all its users to provide them with a personalized experience.

In simpler words, social media algorithms decide which posts appear on the top of your feed and which ones don’t. In most cases, the algorithms are based on engagement and relevance.

Research shows that 53.6% of the population uses social media. That’s more than half of the world. That’s a massive number of social posts to manage and monitor. This is where the need for social media algorithms comes into the picture. They help in determining the authenticity of social media accounts and content.

How Algorithms Work

As discussed above, social media algorithms work by personalizing each user’s feedback based on their past actions, interests, and preferences. For instance, most social media platforms do not display posts in chronological order. Instead, they display posts based on users’ past actions and interests (posts they have read, liked, or shared in the past).

Social media algorithms collect metrics and process users’ actions, such as:

  • Commenting
  • Liking
  • Sharing
  • Browsing

While most social media sites still leverage the chronological order to display posts, they also give preferences to the users’ interests when displaying the newest posts. For several years, social media algorithms did not exist. However, now, they are one of the most critical aspects of the functioning of different social media platforms.

Things to remember about social media algorithms:

  • Regular activity and updates are rewarded. Even though not every social media platform demands the same activity and updates threshold to show your content on the top, regular activity and updates display your business or brand’s commitment to your audience and the platform.
  • Native content is rewarded. Posting content that will help the platform retain users will benefit the platform a great deal. So, social media platforms reward businesses and brands that focus on native content creation. Posting regularly to third-party websites will lead to your posts being less visible in the news feeds of users.
  • Authentic and detailed content from credible profiles and pages is rewarded. Social media platforms promote authentic and engaging content from valid sources as it draws more users to the platform.

Why Social Media Platforms Are Pushing Marketers to Pay for the Top Slots

With social media algorithms ruling the way content is displayed on the news feeds of users, marketers are spending a lot to capture the top slots. While following B2B social media content guidelines is important, leveraging the social media algorithms is also necessary.

Since social signals are among the top factors in online marketing, brands are promoting their content on social media platforms more than ever. They are working day and night to master B2B social media marketing and win an edge over their competitors.

Based on a report by the Pew Research Center, 68% of American adults are using Facebook and 73% of American adults are using YouTube. With social media gaining popularity, users’ news feeds are more cluttered with content and information than ever. Therefore, marketers need to separate their content from the crowd with the help of social media algorithms, even if that means paying a few dollars to reserve the top spots.

Need help planning a social media strategy? Creating social media content? Please reach out to talk about your challenges and explore ways we can help.