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Social Media Algorithm

What is Social Media Algorithm?
Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a users’ feed based on relevancy
instead of publishing time.
Why are social media algorithms so controversial?
This all probably seems straightforward so far. What’s the big deal about algorithms, then?
Well, much of the reason why algorithms are so controversial is because of their impact on
reach.
There are plenty of instances of algorithms seemingly “hiding” content on Facebook at random
despite being optimized to a T. On the flip side, there’s a well-documented phenomenon on
YouTube videos surging to millions of views out of nowhere after being recommended to
seemingly random viewers.
Why do 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’s deemed irrelevant or low-quality.
How do social media algorithms work?
Algorithms are as simple as they are complicated.
But under the hood, algorithms involve machine learning and data science. They’re capable of
parsing data and ranking posts based on criteria that, quite honestly, the average marketer will
probably never truly understand.
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 meaningfully
conversations over transactions, stop engagement baiting, and publish more native video
contents.
How to decode (and outsmart) social media algorithms?
Marketers often look at social media algorithms as roadblocks.
Although no two algorithms are the same, here are some general algorithm-outsmarting
strategies that work across all social channels.
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 don’t fully understand what algorithms are or how they work will find
themselves facing a constant struggle.

What are social media algorithms, anyway?
Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a users’ 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’ll
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…

Facebook chronological feed

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.
YouTube recommended feed
Why are social media algorithms so controversial?
This all probably seems straightforward so far. What’s the big deal about algorithms, then?
Well, much of the reason why algorithms are so controversial is because of their impact on
reach.
Spoiler alert: algorithms aren’t 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 flip side, there’s a well-documented phenomenon on
YouTube videos surging to millions of views out of nowhere after being recommended to
seemingly random viewers.

YouTube algorithm
Oh, and 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 ’em. This
means consistently experimenting with content and changing up marketing strategies.
How 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.
But under the hood, algorithms involve machine learning and data science. They’re capable of
parsing data and ranking posts based on criteria that, quite honestly, the average marketer will
probably never truly understand.
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 meaningfully
conversations over transactions, stop engagement baiting, and publish more native video
content.

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.
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’re mentioning another business, brand, or customer, make
sure you tag their 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’re 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
attached.
In other words, social media algorithms tend to reward accounts that post on a frequent basis
rather than every now and then.

…and “double-dips” it on Facebook where it gets even more engagement.

Cross-posting content allows you to squeeze more out of your content creation efforts
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.
Whether it’s a Vine-style looping video or a mini-commercial for your business, any type of video
is a fair game. Facebook has been explicit about the need for brands to produce video, as has the
Twitter Algorithm.
There’s a reason for that. Social media algorithms don’t want to see accounts just drop links and
walk away: doing so is spammy.
Use links for a more subtle call to action that still helps visitors find what they’re looking for.

For example, see how the following types of content stack up against each other:
Thank you!


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