What are social media algorithm?
Algorithms might seem helpful and mostly harmless to the average social customer, helping sift through content and deliver only “relevant” content rather than random posts.
However, marketers that do not fully understand what algorithms are or how they work will find themselves facing a constant struggle. Social algorithms are not as mysterious or spiteful as you might think. If you are like most businesses trying to tackle social media, they are a sort of boogeyman. The great “unknown” that is holding your content down.
Now talk about what are social media algorithm Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy instead of publish time.
Social networks prioritize which content a user sees in their feed first by the likelihood that they will actually want to see it. Before the switch to algorithms, most social media feeds displayed posts in reverse chronological order. In short, the newest posts from accounts a user followed showed up first. This is still an option on Twitter to set your
feed to chronological order… Timeline Show me the best tweet first Tweets you are likely to care about most will show up first in your timeline. Learn more Explore Trends Search filters and the same rings true on Facebook. By default, social media algorithms take the reins of determining which content to deliver to you based on your behavior. For example, Facebook or Twitter might put posts from your closest friends and family front-and-center in your feed because those are the accounts you interact with most often.
Chances are you have been recommended videos to watch on YouTube, right. This is again based on your individual behavior, digging into what you have watched in the past and what users like yourself are watching. Elements such as categories, #tags and keywords also factor into recommended content on any given network.
Now talk about why are the social media algorithms so controversial Well, much of the reason why algorithms are so controversial is because of their impact on reach.
Spoiler alert: algorithms are not necessarily perfect. Not by a long shot. There are plenty of instances of algorithms seemingly “hiding” content on Facebook at random despite being optimized to a T. On the other side, there is a well-documented phenomenon on YouTube of videos surging to millions of views out of nowhere after being recommended to seemingly random viewers. Algorithms are constantly evolving, attempting to work out the kinks and provide the best user experience possible. As a result, marketers have to
consistently adapt to him. This means consistently experimenting with content and changing up marketing strategies. Now talk about why social media algorithms exist There is a ton of content floating around in the social space. Like, thousands of posts, photos and videos published per minute. Without social media algorithms, sifting through all of this content on an account-by-account basis would be impossible. Especially for users following hundreds or thousands of accounts on a network, so algorithms do the legwork of delivering what you want and weeding out content that has deemed irrelevant or low quality. In theory, that is. There is also the belief that social media algorithms exist to push brands to pay a premium for social ads. The belief is that if brands cannot reach their audience organically, they will turn to ads instead. Obviously, this means more money for social networks. This point-of-view might seem cynical or even paranoid, but social marketers know that changes in how social media algorithms prioritize paid
and organic content can have a huge impact. Regardless of why social media algorithms exist, the fact remains that they are not going anywhere. For brands, this means learning what algorithms “want” and likewise what might cause content to be viewed as low-quality or irrelevant to their audience. Now talk about why do social media algorithms work Algorithms are as simple as they are complicated. Sure, the function of an algorithm is to deliver relevant content to users. However, under the hood, algorithms involve machine learning and data science. They are capable of parsing data and ranking posts based on criteria that, quite honestly, the average marketer will probably never truly
understand. That said, algorithms are not giant question marks, though. Sometimes networks are transparent about what will help content rank and be seen as high quality on their platform. Take the recent Facebook algorithm changes, for example. Facebook
explicitly laid out some ground rules for accounts looking to stay in their algorithm’s good graces: prioritize meaningful conversations over transactions, stop engagement baiting and publish more native video content. Networks are traditionally vague about the specifics of their algorithm and understandably so. However, through experimentation and trial-and-error we can sniff out changes to any given algorithm. For example, some marketers suspect that the Instagram algorithm is starting to crack down on brands that are too explicit about social selling and transaction-specific posts.
Determining how algorithms work requires both experimenting firsthand and listening to what networks are saying themselves. It can be a tedious process, but a necessary one. Now talk about how to decode and outsmart social media algorithms Marketers often look at social media algorithms as roadblocks. Rather than try to fight with algorithms, it is more prudent to understand how to craft the sorts of posts that algorithms want to see.
Between trial-and-error and what we know about the current crop of social media algorithms, there are actionable steps marketers can take to optimize their posts. The key is finding a balance between what an algorithms wants and creating compelling content for your audience. Although no two algorithms are the same, here are some general
algorithm-outsmarting strategies that work across all social channels. Ask questions and encourage comments from your audience For starters, social media algorithms treat engagement likes, comments and shares as a sort of snowball effect. That is, the more engagement a piece of content gets, the more likely it is to be rewarded by the algorithm.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to encourage engagement is by asking questions of your followers. Serving as a sort of call-to-action, question- based posts are an easy way to encourage interactions and connect with your audience at the same time.
Tag other accounts in your posts Simply put, tagging other accounts serves as a sort of invitation for other users to check out and hopefully share your content. If you are mentioning another business, brand or customer, make sure you tag his or her account
accordingly. This same logic can be applied to tag-a-friend posts where followers are
invited to tag friends-and-family in response to a question or comment. These types of posts should be used sparingly so they are not treated as engagement bait, but are especially useful for major promotions such as giveaways. Tack on the right hashtags
Hashtags essentially make your content searchable and therefore extend a post’s reach by attaching it to a category. As far as social algorithms go, hashtags assign a category to your piece of content to make it more likely to appear to users interested in that tag.
There is plenty of debate in regards to what’s “optimal” in terms of tags, but you can check out our guide to hashtag analytics to learn more. As a rule of thumb, tacking on a tag or two is fair game across all networks for the sake of categorizing your content and campaigns. Optimize your post timing to encourage engagement Timing is a huge factor in determining how much engagement any piece of content gets. For example, posting when your audience is most likely to be active means that your posts are more likely to be seen and replied to. Based on our research, the best times to post on social media vary from network to network. That said, there is no denying that timing has a significant impact on engagement rate. To ensure that you are tapping into these times, a third-party social scheduling tool like Sprout is a must-have. Additionally, Sprout features such as Viral Post automatically hone in on posting times that will result in maximum reach and engagement. Figure out your publishing frequency No matter what network you are publishing to, you should strive to be an “active” participant. In other words, social media algorithms tend to reward accounts that post on a frequent basis rather than every now and then. This is why it’s important to come up with a content calendar that allows
you to regularly post to each respective network. You can likewise cross- post your content across networks Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to squeeze more out of your content creation efforts. In many cases, it makes sense to cross-post your content to squeeze more out of your creation. For example, check out how Vegemite takes this post
on Instagram… and “double-dips” it on Facebook where it gets even more engagement. Tools such as Sprout’s social publishing suite make it a cinch to schedule and fine-tune your content across all social networks in one place. Publishing more video content across all network As a growing trend, all networks’ algorithms reward native video content video published to that platform, not an external link. Whether it is a Vine-style looping video or a mini-commercial for your business, any type of video is fair game. Facebook has been explicit about the need for brands to produce video, as has the Twitter algorithm. Mind how you present your likes craft your captions
Very rarely will you see posts promoting a link and nothing more score much engagement. There is a reason for that. Social media algorithms do not want to see
accounts just drop links and walk away doing so is spams. Instead, it pays to provide context to your links and promotions. Rather than be purely transaction, spice up your captions with some commentary or even some humor. Meanwhile, let your link serve as your call-to-action. As a side note, try to tone down transactional terms “BUY NOW” which could potentially flag your posts as being too sales. There is nothing wrong
with promoting products or sales via social, but how you package them to your followers matters for the sake of reach. Measure your social media performance via analytics Without analytics, it’s impossible to know how the various social media
algorithms are treating your content. Tools such as Sprout can clue you in on clear connections between your top-performing posts and each social network. Spotting trends and spikes in engagement, you can determine for yourself what to post (or not) based on your engagement rate. The more data you are able to gather, the better.