Algorithms Explained, Part 2: How Do They Work?

We’ve already explained what social media algorithms are and why they’re essential for your marketing strategy. Now for the biggest question: How do they work?

The answer is both simple and complicated. While algorithms are designed to provide users with relevant content, they run on data science. They can analyze data and rank posts based on criteria that most of us won’t completely understand, but that doesn’t mean that they’re a complete mystery.

Occasionally, networks reveal how they rank content and determine its quality. For example:

  • Facebook has indicated that when accounts prioritize meaningful dialogue, release native video content, and refrain from engagement baiting, they get better results on the platform. 
  • Instagram recently shed some light on its algorithm, which is supposedly cracking down on social selling and transaction-oriented posts.

Despite these insights, networks continue to be vague about the details of their algorithms, mostly because they don’t want users or accounts to purposely manipulate the data to work to their advantage. To determine how they work, marketers need to do some experimenting and listen to what the networks are willing to reveal. It can be laborious at times, but it’s necessary when you want to make progress.

So how can you crack the code?

Decoding Social Media Algorithms

Marketers frequently perceive the algorithms as obstacles that need to be overcome. However, the better approach is to create the type of content that they favor. By finding a balance between what your audience wants and what the algorithm is looking for, you can strike a balance that gets results. Here are some tips for making that happen, no matter what platform you’re targeting.

Tag Other Accounts

Tagging encourages others to check out your content and hopefully share it. If you mention a client or another business, be sure to tag their account. You can also invite followers to share your content with friends and family, but do so sparingly, or the algorithm may interpret your activity as engagement bait.

Encourage Audience Interaction

A piece of content is more likely to be rewarded by the algorithm if it receives more engagement. By asking questions of your followers, you can make beneficial connections with your audience while encouraging the interaction the platform is looking for.

Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags assign a category to your post, making it more likely to appear to people interested in those tags. How many you should use varies from one platform to the next, but once you know what’s acceptable, tags are a great way to categorize content and campaigns.

Set Up a Publishing Calendar

Regular posting on social media tends to be rewarded by algorithms. Having a content calendar that allows you to post regularly on each network is crucial. Additionally, you can cross-post your content across multiple networks (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to maximize your reach.

Publish Video Content

All social media algorithms reward native video content, which is a video published directly to that platform as opposed to an external link. Facebook and Twitter in particular have emphasized the need for brands on their platforms to produce more video.

Always Measure Results!

Analytics can help you measure the success of your social media campaigns. Without them, it’s hard to determine how the algorithms on different platforms are treating your content. The right tool will point out connections between each network and your top-performing posts, allowing you to come up with a posting strategy based on your engagement rate.

What’s the Bottom Line?

No matter how you feel about social algorithms, they are here to stay. Taking the time to learn what algorithms are and how they work is essential to building a long-term social presence. Once you reach that level, staying current as the algorithms evolve can keep you on the road to success.

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Spotlight Branding

Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!