01 Nov A Beginners Guide to Social Media Algorithms
In the early days of social media, news feeds were largely chronological. Posts were shown in reverse order with the most recent at the front. Algorithms take many more factors into consideration than just time; from both user behaviour and how a user might interact with a specific status, through to how other users have reacted to this status and what is trending at that particular moment in time.
There are a number of different reasons as to why social media algorithms were developed, one of which is to improve the user’s experience and allowing the user to see more of what’s important to them. Another is to encourage brands to buy ads. If brand posts are no longer prioritised in feed, the brand may then buy adverts to increase exposure, which helps the social media platform to create revenue.
If social media forms a big part of your overall digital strategy, then taking the time to understand how you can optimise your social media posts can make a significant impact. In this post, we focus specifically on Instagram and Facebook.
Social media algorithms differ depending on the platform and are adapting constantly. Here’s a brief rundown of how each algorithm currently works across each platform:
In a nutshell, the order of the feed is now based on how interested you are supposed to be in the content of the post, the relationship you have with the person posting and the time of the post. Whilst the intricate details of Instagram’s algorithm remain a mystery for the vast majority of us, lets dive a little deeper into some of the widely discussed key factors:
- Engagement – This refers to how popular the post is. The types of engagement that the Instagram algorithm considers can include likes, comments, video views, shares (via direct message), saves, story views, and live video views. More importantly, it’s not always about popularity. Posts with less engagement but which are more relevant to you, may still appear at the top of your newsfeed.
- Relevancy – This one includes many factors when determining a posts relevancy. In large, content that is relevant to your interests is likely to rank higher in your feed. By looking at the types of genres that you typically interact and engage with, Instagram are able to predict posts that you’re most likely to be interested in.
- Relationships – This is about the accounts that you regularly interact with, search and engage with.
- Timeliness – How recent the posts are. Timing of posts is still considered within the algorithm, although the news feed is no longer chronological, Instagram still want you to see the most recent posts that are relevant to you. So, identifying when your audience are most active on Instagram will allow you to post accordingly. This means that your posts are likely to reach your audience quicker and hopefully drive up engagement.
- Profile searches – When you search profiles regularly, it may indicate that you have an interest in the particular accounts post and genre. This can be an indicator for Instagram when ranking posts in your news feed.
- Direct shares – What posts from what accounts are you sharing via direct message to your friends? This is another signal that Instagram looks at in order to understand your interests. Creating interesting content that is sharable will really help to drive up your engagement.
Facebook have expressed that their new News Feed is designed “To deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them” – more specifically;
- How frequently you interact with the friend, page, or public figure.
- The amount of activity the post generates (such as number of likes, shares and comments from your friends in particular).
- The number of times you have interacted with this type of post previously.
- The type of post (i.e. video, image, status, text, link) – video posts are said to still rank more highly than other types of statuses.
So why are the social media algorithms great for you as a business? Well, as long as you are taking the time to optimise your posts accordingly, then it will help to surface your amazing content to more of your followers than when posts were arranged reverse-chronologically.