Social media algorithms are systems of ranking content on various social media platforms and search engines. Social media websites and applications like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and more utilize specially designed algorithms to place relevant content in front of users looking for specific information.
As a full service online marketing agency, the team at Levy Online has the experience to get your social media presence up and running so your business can thrive. Our experts explain the basics of social media algorithms and why they are important to understand.
What Are Social Media Algorithms?
Social media algorithms are an important tool to understand for social media marketing (SMM) and are often used within nearly any marketing agency. Whether you are a business aiming to sell products to viable customers, building a personal brand as an influencer, or simply trying to increase the reach of your account, understanding social media algorithms and how they work are the key to getting your content in front of your target audience.
How Do Social Media Algorithms Work?
Algorithms and how they function will differ depending on the social media platform that they are designed for. Social media algorithms use a variety of indicators and metrics to rank and determine the relevancy and usability of information on their platforms. Once ranked in a social media algorithm, the posts generally appear in order of most to least relevant to users on the platform. The higher the rank of a post in an algorithm, the more interaction, and buzz a post will receive.
Whether it is in the form of likes, favorites, saves, shares, or any other number of factors, understanding how different social media algorithms operate can make or break your social media marketing success on any given platform.
How Does the Facebook Algorithm Work?
Facebook, like most social media platforms, will not disclose the entirety of how its algorithm operates. However, it has become increasingly popular for various social media platforms to give away some specifications on how to rank higher on their platform. Facebook generally uses the following metrics to determine success within its algorithm:
- The Originator of the Post: Friends or businesses that follow or interact with your profile are given priority for ranking higher in Facebook’s algorithm.
- Type of Content: Depending on the type of content a user interacts with (videos, pictures, written posts, etc.) Facebook’s algorithm will place similar types of content on a user’s feed.
- Interactions with the Post: Posts that gather a lot of engagement will be prioritized over those that do not perform as well. Especially from users that regularly interact with your posts or profile.
Additional tools that Facebook offers to allow users to customize their feed:
- Favorites: Users can select up to 30 profiles or pages, and when these profiles and pages are selected, Facebook will automatically prioritize content from these users in your feed.
- In-Feed Options: If a user comes across a post they do not want to see, they can click on the post and select the option to “hide post” and Facebook’s algorithm will automatically hide or filter similar content from your Facebook feed.
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How Does the Twitter Algorithm Work?
Twitter’s platform consists mainly of two different kinds of feeds, the “Home” feed, and the “Latest Tweets” feed. Users of Twitter can toggle back and forth between the two feeds while using the platform. The “Latest Tweets” feed will feature real-time posts from people you follow in chronological order, while the “Home” feed uses Twitter’s ranking algorithm to shuffle posts into what it believes is the best order of top tweets for the user. Twitter uses the following metrics and variables to rank success on its platform.
- Topics: Twitter organizes all of its content and media into topics that users can select, and upon doing so, Twitter will prioritize content that is relevant to the topics that you are interested in.
- Trends: Trends appear throughout Twitter, and the Twitter algorithm determines what is a trend. Usually, trends are based on geo-location, but users can change their location settings to see trending tweets in varying locations.
- Recommended Accounts: Twitter’s social media algorithms suggest accounts that it feels best match your interests as the user.
- Algorithm Ranking Signals: Twitter will choose a user’s top tweets based on accounts that users interact with the most. Generally, Twitter’s social media algorithms do this by tracking the recency, relevance, engagement, and richness of a tweet’s content.
How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?
TikTok is a social media platform based solely on short video clips posted by users, all compiled in a feed titled the “For You Page”. TikTok uses various ranking signals1 when determining the popularity and relevance of a video before placing it in front of users on the “For You Page”. Some of the factors used by TikTok in ranking content are:
- User Interactions: Metrics such as accounts followed, comments posted on videos, videos liked or shared, videos added to favorites, or videos watched to the end are all metrics used in determining how good a video is to a user on TikTok.
- Video Information: Video information, or video information signals, are based on the content a user interacts with when on the “Discover” tab of TikTok. Factors such as captions, hashtags, trending topics, sounds, or effects are all monitored in the TikTok social media algorithm.
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How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?
The social media algorithms of Instagram are based on specific classifiers that determine the ranking of posts on Instagram’s feed. Whether it’s posts, stories, or reels, Instagram’s algorithm will pay attention to these key factors when ranking content on its platform:
- Relationship with Followers: Posts that are given a higher ranking will generally be from accounts that follow one another (mutual follows), leave comments on each other’s posts, or tag each other in posts.
- Relevance of Content: This metric tries to determine the content of videos or pictures and place them in front of audiences that are seeking the same or similar content.
- Time of Posts: Most have probably heard this before, but the time of your posts does matter on Instagram. Generally, keeping track of metrics and engagement will give you the best idea of optimal times to post given the engagement from your audience.
How Does the Pinterest Algorithm Work?
Pinterest is a social media platform that utilizes a feed, similar to other platforms, referred to as a “board”. Posts that are posted to a board are called “pins” on Pinterest’s platform. Pinterest generally has four different determining metrics for how pins are ranked on its platform.
- Domain Quality: Similar to how Google will rank internet domains based on content, relevance, popularity, and more, Pinterest will rank various domains based on the amount of traffic and engagement that a particular domain receives.
- Pin Quality: The content of a pin will determine how well it does in the social media algorithms of Pinterest. Factors such as catchy and compelling titles, high-quality images, and utilizing the correct image size2 (1,000 x 1,500 pixels) are metrics used to rank pins.
- Pinner Quality: This metric determines the efficacy of a pin, how often you pin content, and how often you engage with your audience. Pinning popular content, pinning consistently, and increasing engagement through Pinterest analytics are great places to start.
- Topic Relevance: Topic relevance refers to whether the Pinterest social media algorithm wants to show your content. When a user searches for a relevant topic, if the algorithm determines your pin is a good fit, it will rank high and be placed in front of that user. Utilizing keyword research, optimizing your profile, and using trending or popular keywords in your pins will help rank in Pinterests’ algorithm.
Having a strong social media marketing plan is crucial. To see how Levy Online Marketing Agency can help you create a strong online presence, talk to our team today. Our experts are here to take care of the details and help your business thrive.
1Newberry, C. (11 February 2022) How the TikTok Algorithm Works in 2022 (and How to Work With It). Hootsuite. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
2How to Master the Pinterest Algorithm in 2022. (29 April 2022) Social Champ. Retrieved 24 June 2022.