Updated: Sep 3, 2022
Algorithms are an underlying problem for advertisers, brands, and even celebrity influencers — for whom reaching their target audience has never been more challenging.
And yet very few people know what it is and how it works. For laymen, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram automatically show everything you post to your followers' news feeds. But in reality, that's often not true.
Algorithms decide what you see — and what you don't. It determines who gets to advertise and where it will appear. It controls the space in your news feed, restricts what kind of content is being posted on the platform, and determines which users get to make money from their content.
But how exactly does this work?
Prior to the implementation of algorithms, the majority of social media platforms displayed posts in reverse chronological order on the consumer's feed. In short, the most recent posts from accounts a user followed appeared first. On Twitter, one can still set their feed to chronological order.
Social media algorithms are the new gatekeepers of the internet. They help you find what you want to see and keep you engaged with social media.
There are two types of social media algorithms:
Personalized algorithm shows content relevant to a user's interests and past browsing history.
Trending algorithm, which is used to show content that has been recently popular on social media.
The personalized algorithm considers a user's age, gender, location, and other factors to tailor what they see on their feed. The trending algorithm considers how many people have liked or shared posts to rank them by popularity.
The algorithms behind the major social media platforms are designed to serve the most engaging content at the top of the feed, like reels on Instagram are the most engaging content on the platform. The content shown is based on what the user has liked, clicked on, shared, and commented on in the past.
Social media algorithms are also designed to show content that will be most engaging for an individual. This means that what you see in your feed is not necessarily what everyone else sees in their feed.
The algorithms are not perfect and can often show irrelevant content or filter out essential posts.
Social media algorithms are a complicated mix of human curation and computer-generated algorithms. The algorithm also considers several other factors, such as the time since you last saw a post, how many times you have seen it, and your past interactions with the poster.
Social network algorithms are constantly updated from time to time to improve the user experience. What is the solution? Maintaining high-quality, relevancy, and engaging content while keeping an eye out for algorithm changes to see if your social media strategy needs to be worked on.