Say the word ‘algorithm’ and you’ll feel yourself squirm. There’s something intimidating about the word. Perhaps it’s the mystery of it, the intimidation of not actually knowing what it is or how it works. If you’re unsure of what a social media algorithm does or how it works, read on.

What is an algorithm?

Algorithms help social media platforms decide what content to put in front of which users. The algorithm looks at many different factors to determine what content is most relevant to the user (person) who is using the platform.

There are two important things to know about social media algorithms.

One, they cannot be ‘hacked’.

And two, there isn’t just one algorithm. There are multiple social media algorithms that adjust specifically to the needs and interests of the user.

So if it’s one thing you take from this blog, let it be that you cannot beat the algorithm/s.

Why are algorithms important?

To a business:

Algorithms control the reach of our content. If you’re publishing content that the algorithm deems irrelevant or unuseful to the people using the platform, it will get low reach. This is why it’s important to make sure you understand your audience before you start creating content. If your content is flat and fails to engage with your audience, the chances are, your content will get poor reach and yield no fruitful results for your business.

To the user:

Social media algorithms help personalise the experience for each user. The more personalised the experience is, the longer a person will feel compelled to spend time on the platform. Remember, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest all share one common goal – to keep people on their platforms for as long as possible. Creating content that is relevant and engaging will help improve your post reach.

The Instagram algorithm

The Instagram algorithm

It was only this year that Instagram published a helpful article about how their algorithm performs – Shedding Light on How the Instagram Algorithm Works. They explained that there isn’t just one algorithm that controls everything. They use a “variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose”. Furthermore, the algorithm works differently for each content format within the platform.

How Instagram ranks feed posts and stories

Instagram has learned that its users like seeing feed posts and stories from their friends and family first. As a business, it’s important to bear this in mind and create content that’s humanised to have a higher chance of appearing in their feed. For feed posts and stories, their algorithm looks at:

  • Information about the post
  • Information about the person who posted
  • Your activity
  • Your history of interaction with that account

How Instagram ranks reels

Reels are Instagram’s version of TikTok. Reels videos are fun ‘snackable’ pieces of content that entertain your followers. To determine which reel to put in front of a user, Instagram looks at:

  • Your activity
  • Your history of interaction with the person who posted
  • Information about the reel
  • Information about the person who posted it

READ: What you need to know about Instagram reels in 2021

How Instagram rank content on the Explore page

The Instagram Explore page is a curated collection of photos, stories and Reels tailored specifically to your taste. The signals that Instagram looks at to determine whether your content will get ‘airtime’ are:

  • Information about the post
  • The history of interaction with the person who posted
  • Your activity
  • Information about the person who posted

The Facebook algorithm

The Facebook algorithm

Facebook’s priority is just the same as Instagram’s – to keep people on the platform for as long as possible. To maximise your reach we recommend the following:

  • Publish your content on days and times that your users are most active
  • Reduce the links you publish on your page. Facebook wants to keep people on the platform and posting links ‘tells’ the algorithm you’re trying to take people away.
  • Use video in your content to maximise reach and engagement
  • Create content that people want to engage with. Social media is a great platform to get social and have some fun with your followers. Use polls, quizzes and creative content to encourage interaction from your followers.

READ: New Facebook updates in 2021

The LinkedIn algorithm

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for B2B businesses – it’s a professional network where you can build your personal and professional brand. And just like Instagram and Facebook, LinkedIn prioritises content that has received more engagement. That’s why it’s important to really take time with your content and figure out what people are interested in. Scroll through LinkedIn, see what content is trending and draw inspiration from that.

The idea with LinkedIn is to encourage meaningful, genuine conversations about business-related topics. Focus on creating content that encourages responses rather than spamming people with information about yourself or links that take people away from the platform.

Look at your insights to see what pieces of content have performed well and continue to produce that style of content.

READ: LinkedIn SSI score – the ultimate guide

New to Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn?

Start with a content plan. Sit down with the team and brainstorm content ideas for your business. Think about your customers and what matters to them. Then, create content that informs, educates and inspires them. Publish content at least three times a week and look at the insights to determine what worked well and what didn’t.​

About Focus SME

Focus SME provides social media marketing services to B2B or service-based businesses. Whether it just be helping you set up your social media profiles, managing your entire social media presence, or helping you find other ways to engage with your audience, our solutions will support you in growing your business. If you’re looking for a reliable and experienced social media team, contact us HERE.