Social media algorithms – understanding what they are and how to post on the top platforms
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to social media, not only does each platform attract a different audience, encourage a different style of content and generate a different form of ‘results’, beneath the surface they are also working to create a different user-experience based on what the platform believes the user wants. These are called social media algorithms.
Understanding how each social media platform works is key in making the most of what you’re posting and that’s why we’ve put this blog together to give you a bit of insight into each of the main social media platforms current algorithms so you can build your content around how they work.
What is a social media algorithm, and why is it important?
A social media algorithm is essentially a set of rules that the social media platform creates behind the scenes to shape the user’s experience.
Put simply, an algorithm is automated to decide which social media posts make it to the top of your feed, and which don’t.
In most cases the top factors in these algorithms are engagement (ie. the amount of interaction a post gets). Understanding what generates that engagement is the key to maximizing reach and response.
To help you understand how social media algorithms work and what you can do to win a spot on your consumers’ news feeds, allow us to highlight the key points of the top platform’s algorithms and our tips for posting on each of them.
It’s no secret that the key algorithm factors on this platform are heavily focused on showing you content from friends and family, but here are the other characteristics of the Facebook algorithm.
The Facebook algorithm 2020 prioritizes:
- content from people you engage with (people whose posts you comment and like on, or who you message).
- posts with a high number or lengthy comments (if a post has a lot of engagement in general, it’s more likely to show up in feeds)
- posts with a high number of reactions and a variety of reactions.
- both recent content from your top friends and highly-engaged content from friends that you personally engage with less often.
Top tips for Facebook posts:
- Post when people are more likely to be engaging – think about who you’re trying to reach and when they’re likely to be on Facebook.
- Use videos – we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, videos are the most viewed content on social media and people watching them is classed as engagement. So, increase your posts engagement by using engaging content like videos!
- Ask questions and drive debate. Try and encourage engagement with your posts where possible but be careful not to bait for comments or reactions – asking for a comment or like on every post will be considered as spam by Facebook. Tacking on questions to any given post is a smart way to encourage comments without having to beg for them.
- Encourage your team or colleagues to share your content with their networks on Facebook, this instantly amplifies your post reach.
- Prioritise tags and photos over external links. Linking to your website is fine but try not to do it all the time. Facebook prefers to keep content and users on its own site so constantly linking away will likely have an effect on how your posts are ranked in people’s feeds.
We have a library of free tutorials to help you make great content for Facebook.
Facebook have many helpful resources to improve your reach and engagement on their Blueprint platform.
Considered a slightly trickier algorithm to master the Instagram algorithm has the following characteristics:
The Instagram algorithm 2020 prioritizes:
- posts with the highest number of likes.
- very recent posts (created within minutes of a user logging on).
- posts from profiles that the user normally engages with.
- posts from hashtags that the user follows.
- occasionally posts with great engagement from a profile which uses hashtags that the user does not follow.
- brands’ and consumers’ content equally.
Tips for posting on Instagram
- Use striking images – whilst beauty is in the eye of the beholder there’s no doubt that the most liked or shared content is visually striking. So try and ensure what you post is too, if it catches people’s attention or is visually enticing they’re more likely to hit like and engage.
- Do some engaging yourself. Being active on the platform is said to be as important as posting content.
- Ask questions in your captions in order to engage with your audience better. There’s an abundance of ways to do this using the filters so have fun and encourage your followers to engage.
- There’s no one way to apply hashtags, so experiment with different hashtags and see what’s out there.
- Utilize Instagram Stories to get more organic reach from your audience. Stories can push your brand’s account to the front of your followers’ Stories updates, putting you quite literally front and centre on their feed as a result.
- Stay consistent! This algorithm will downgrade you if you post randomly. You should post once a day, once every other day, or two times a week (whatever you can manage), as long as it’s consistent.
The main characteristics of LinkedIn’s algorithm are as follows:
The LinkedIn algorithm 2020 prioritizes:
- content from users who you have engaged with in the past, and who post consistently.
- content from users who get large amounts of engagement, even if you don’t tend to like or comment on their posts yourself.
- lengthy comments over a high volume of reactions.
- content from personal profiles rather than business pages.
- native content such as text posts, images with text, and videos with text.
Tips for posting on LinkedIn
- Utilize business owners’ and employees’ profiles instead of just the business page. Post from these as well as the business page.
- Share business page posts via employee/team profiles to increase reach.
- Post different types of content: text, images, and video. See what gets the greatest proportion of impact over effort.
- Stay consistent! This algorithm will definitely downgrade your content if you post randomly.
- Be sure to create content that can spark a conversation. The posts that really do well in LinkedIn’s algorithm garner longer, higher quality comments.
- Use hashtags – users of LinkedIn can select hashtags to follow so ensure you reach these people by using relevant hashtags. When posting relevant ones will likely be recommended (and they’re recommended for a reason.)
If you’d like to learn more about how you can make the most of your LinkedIn profile, find out about our training sessions.
Of all the social media algorithms, Twitter factors in recency more than any other. But there are other characteristics too. It adds up to a complex series of calculations based on what people have liked in the past, what people like them like, and more.
The Twitter algorithm 2020 prioritizes:
- content with the highest amount of engagement from users you follow.
- content posted recently (within minutes).
- content with retweets and comments over likes.
Tips for posting on Twitter
- Tweet daily or more for the best results.
- Utilize all 280 characters only in certain posts (when sharing something informative).
- Choose hashtags purposefully – Hashtags are a great way to gain traction on Twitter—branded or otherwise.
- Use photos, videos, GIFs – A boost in engagement can boost your tweet’s ranking with the Twitter algorithm. And it’s well known that tweets with photos, videos, and GIFs tend to get more attention.
- Ask for engagement – pose a question, ask for feedback or ask for a reply in the form of a GIF.
- Join relevant trends and topics – be a part of the conversation on Twitter. Look for trends and topics that your brand can contribute to. Find the topics and themes that make sense for your brand. Doing this will also increase your odds of appearing in a Twitter moment.
- Create a Twitter poll once a month.
- Respond to all comments within the first 2-3 hours of sending out a tweet – it keeps the tweet recent and therefore within the feed of others!
Do you feel more confident in understanding the roles of social media algorithms?
Whether you like them or not, social algorithms are part and parcel of the social media world and having at least a basic understanding of what algorithms are and how they work is a great tool for growing your social media presence.
We hope our short overview of the top platform’s algorithms and our tips for posting have been insightful. If you would like any further advice when it comes to social media posting or platforms then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Please give the team a call on 01904 863511 or email email@example.com.