According to the dictionary definition, an algorithm is “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.”
Now, let’s make that specific to social media.
A social media algorithm is a way to sort posts within feeds based on relevancy, and the likelihood that the person actually wants to see it.
You may remember the days of chronological feeds on socials, but that is no more. You are able to order your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds chronologically, but it isn’t possible on Instagram and Twitter.
Although knowing your optimal posting time is important, knowing your audience is critical to defeating social media algorithms.
Why do algorithms exist?
Social media algorithms exist due to the fact there is SO much content that’s being posted every single minute of every single day.
As annoying as algorithms can be, without them, getting content to your audience would be near enough impossible.
So, in theory, the algorithm pushes content that it thinks people might find interesting and engage with.
There is another theory that algorithms will push people and brands to use paid advertising to reach an audience when engagement drops.
Can you beat them?
Don’t fear; algorithms can be beaten.
It’s essential to understand your audience and what they want so you can curate content that works alongside and with the algorithm.
You create content that the audience wants + content that the algorithm wants = your content being pushed to your audience and wider.
Can you beat ALL algorithms, though? In short, yes.
Using the formula above will essentially work across all channels, even though these algorithms do differ.
Instagram’s primary goal is to monetise. So, how can you keep your audience engaged organically in order to have your content pushed?
Firstly, you need to use ALL of Instagram’s features. This means utilising in-feed posts, stories, lives and IGTV, as well as replying to DMs and comments in a timely manner. In addition to this, when you’re posting grid photos, make sure to increase the photo quality so you have more eye-catching content.
Secondly, the more time you spend on Instagram engaging with your followers and in turn, keep them engaged, the more Instagram will push your posts. Find when your audience is most active within your insights, and be sure to post your content at that time.
Lastly, hashtags aren’t dead - so use them. Utilise different hashtags and never use hashtags that have over 500,000 posts if you’re a small account - you’ll find it harder to rank/be seen. Instead, create a hashtag ladder:
Do some hashtag research by checking out what works for your competitors, and the posts that are in the “top posts’ under the hashtag you want to use.
Pick 20 LARGE hashtags (750k-1M+ posts)
Pick 40 MEDIUM hashtags (150k-750k)
Pick 40 LOW hashtags (150k and less)
Then use a generator, or pick a mixture of these hashtags yourself (remember, you can use 30 on each post)
By using this technique, you are more likely to rank in one of the smaller hashtags, and if you do, this will push you up the ‘ladder’ as more people will see your content. Therefore, this gives you a better chance at ranking in bigger hashtags.
Facebook’s algorithm can be a little tricky. Understanding your audience is essential, as Facebook’s focus is transparency. However, Facebook DOES allow people to sort their posts to see the “most recent” posts in their feeds. So, this could be a huge advantage when using this platform.
When using Facebook, you need to create exclusive content. Give your audience and any new followers a reason to engage with your page. Don’t post the same content across ALL socials; make sure you post unique content, so it serves a purpose to your audience.
Additionally, ensure that you switch up your content. Do not rely on text posts alone. According to many studies, people tend to engage more with media posts. So, create videos and gifs, as well as going live and sharing other creators content. Video content is essential across ALL platforms, and make sure to put subtitles as according to Sprout Social, 85% of videos are watched without sound.
Lastly, create User Generated Content. UGC is a fantastic way to beat any algorithm, let alone Facebook’s algorithm. Try hosting photo/video contests, and get your audience to submit some form of content for you to repost and utilise.
Just like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to sort your feed into ‘top posts’ and ‘recent posts’, but how can you ensure that your content appears at the top?
Asking questions is a great way to encourage engagement. The LinkedIn algorithm loves posts that ask questions/opinions/insight, so next time you’re curating a post, think about if you end it with a question.
Next up for beating the LinkedIn algorithm is posting news and insights. You’ll see in the right corner of your LinkedIn page ‘today’s news and views’, and this type of content sparks a huge amount of engagement.
It shows that you have an insight into your industry, and that you’re keeping up to date with the latest goings-on. Try posting one comment per week on one of these ‘top stories’ and what your engagement is like.
Lastly, LinkedIn is all about creating those professional connections, so you need to be posting consistent business content. You can try posting behind the scenes, celebrating employees and events posts as these naturally boost your engagement and shows off your human side.
Now, Twitter’s algorithm favours NEW content and obviously, as with all algorithms, engagement. Ideally, you need to be receiving engagement within three hours for your post to be seen beyond your audience.
Responsiveness is a huge factor in Twitter’s algorithm. Respond to any and ALL engagement as soon as you can. When we say reply to all, we really mean it. Being a successful and active brand on social media, especially in the beginning, means that you need to constantly be engaging with your audience.
Alongside this, you need to be consistent. You need to be tweeting and posting content more consistently than you are used to on other platforms. People tend to load up Twitter, and engage with the first few tweets that they see - so consistency is key.
Lastly, provoke your audience. We’re not saying that you need to be controversial, but you do need to post content that makes your audience think. Ask questions, use relevant hashtags, participate in trends and follow campaigns. On a slower day, you could post the following:
Polls and challenges: Here at GRL PWR, it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. What do you think? [insert poll].
How would you describe the office today? GIFs only.
Is email marketing important? If you chose no, explain why in the comments. [insert poll]
Questions: Sandals and socks are the ultimate fashion statement. Do you agree?
What is digital marketing? Wrong answers only!
Explain what CRM stands for only using emojis.
As a social media marketer, we are often the jack of all trades. What does your role look like on a day-to-day basis?
It can be disheartening when you’ve put your all into a post, and it doesn’t perform well. However, use this time to analyse your content’s performance and make some changes. Create content that works alongside social media algorithms, and you might find that your posts reach far more people.
A useful formula to remember is: Content + intent + algorithm check = completely optimised social posts. If you create content with the intent of serving a purpose to your audience, alongside making sure it works alongside the algorithm - you end up with entirely optimised social media posts every single time.