A Guide to Using Social Media Algorithms to Your Advantage Blog Feature
Jennifer Clark

By: Jennifer Clark on May 10th, 2018

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A Guide to Using Social Media Algorithms to Your Advantage

social media | Digital Media Landscape

Our phones dominate our lives. Social media dominates our phones. Algorithms dominate social media. Therefore according to the transverse property, algorithms are an important part of your life, and an even more important part of your business. A great social media strategy should be at the core of any brand and business, and knowledge of algorithms is key to this strategy.

“Algorithm” it’s a word that gets thrown around all the time, but what does it really mean?

The truth is that it means something different for every social media platform. Each is designed slightly different and your social media strategy should be tailored to take advantage of each platform’s rules. Although each platform plays by different rules, each has the same goal in mind. Each wants to create the best possible experience for its users by providing them with the most relevant content possible.

Many people now depend on social networks to be informed and up-to-date on news events. In fact, research by the Pew Research Center found that in 2017 two thirds of American adults reported getting at least ‘some of their news’ from social media.

Today we’re providing you with a quick guide to each social media platforms algorithm along with helpful tips and tricks for keeping your content top of mind and reaching possible clients across the digital landscape.


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Facebook

Facebook is the social media platform that's had the longest presence in our lives, so it’s only fitting that we cover this algorithm first. The platform may have been getting bad press in the news recently; however, it is doubtful that this social media giant is going anywhere.

The biggest concern businesses have with Facebook’s newest algorithm is the decline in organic reach. Previously a business could begin sharing content and information on the site hoping to organically reach thousands of Facebook’s billions of users. However, Facebook’s  newest algorithm is focused on getting the right content in front of the right people. This means that the site is now prioritizing engagement between friends and family. Content that facilitates these engagements, conversations, and sharing has a better chance of ranking higher on the feed.

If we delved into the full technical extent of the Facebook algorithm, this post would turn into a doctoral dissertation. For the sake of time and sanity, we’ve broken down the Do’s and Don’ts of getting your business seen on Facebook.

DO

  • Establish yourself as a credible user - In the advent of spam bots and fake news, Facebook tries to curtail the sharing of false, harmful, and spam content by prioritizing the posts of established and credible accounts.
  • Reference trending topics - This will help to drive discussion and comments about your posts.
  • Utilize native images
  • Prioritize video - Facebook ranks videos high on the news feed because videos typically generate more engagement. Especially prioritize live video, which Facebook claims generates up to SIX times more engagement than text or picture posts. Plus, customers like to see the people and creativity behind a business. Video is an efficient and cost-effective way to get more attention
  • Interact in the comments section - The site prioritizes content with long form content
  • Focus on native content - Rather than constantly linking out to other sites, share content such as statuses, helpful videos, and infographics that add value to the timeline of your followers. It’s a win win because your viewers will learn and you will remain top of mind.
  • Keep up regular posting of high quality content

DON’T

  • Format your posts like click bait - The new algorithm is designed to code for click bait type of words or commands such as, “like, comment, share”
  • Use the words, “promotion, free, sale”
  • Constantly recycle old posts - The platform ranks repetitive content lower

TWITTER

Twitter was launched with the mission of being a real time news platform that brings live updates and content directly to its users’ phones. Hence the prompt, “What’s going on?” when the app opens.

This remains the mission of Twitter to this day, which explains the method behind the platform’s algorithm. Instead of seeing tweets from those you follow in direct chronological order, the feed is designed to bring content most relevant to users first. The level of relevancy is graded by a user’s following list, what accounts they frequently interact with, and what hashtags are most applicable to them. However, the time of day you post is still heavily weighted so keep this in consideration when planning your social media calendar. Furthermore, the platform has recently expanded its character limit from 140 to a doubled 280 after study revealed that Japanese tweets (in which Japanese characters can communicate more in less space) were receiving far more engagement than their English counterparts. This change sent excitement and murmurs of doubt throughout the digital community; however, you can easily use it to your businesses advantage. Here’s the do’s and don’ts of using Twitter to your advantage.

DO

  • Fully utilize the expanded 280 character limit to communicate more to potential clients
  • Focus on native content
  • Interact with other tweeters! Reply, like, favorite, retweet, quote
  • Tweet everyday
  • Share original images and videos - Images especially are ranked highly in the Twitter algorithm
  • Utilize the polls to interact with followers and learn more about them

DON'T

  • Promote something more than a few times. The 80/20 rule works here. Only promote yourself 20% of the time and you’ll get great results.
  • Go easy on the hashtags. Hashtags can be fun, but don't overuse them.
  • Post the same things over and over again. Twitter favors variety, so spice it up by sharing a combination of quotes, ideas, jokes, external links, etc.

LINKEDIN

In the business world, LinkedIn is king. Luckily the algorithm for LinkedIn is less complicated than those we’ve previously talked about.

LinkedIn is all about expanding your network and connecting you to like minded people in your industry or related industries. Connections like these help you learn more about topics relevant to you, inspire new business savvy friendships, and can even take your career to the next level.

DO

  • Use images to catch the eye of other users
  • Create native content that provides informational value to the feed of your connections - this will increase the level of engagement a post receives as well as encourage your connections to share the post. Remember, the key to going viral on LinkedIn is to get your post viewed, commented on, and shared by your 2nd and 3rd level connections!
  • Share personal stories about work related events, struggles within the industry, and tales of workplace triumph - Social media users love to relate to one another, it drives them to interact with and share posts that feel relevant to their current situation. Additionally, personal stories can be a source of hope, humor, and inspiration for other LinkedIn users. Due to its close connection to work, LinkedIn can sometimes cause stress for those struggling or searching for a job - a short anecdote can go a long way to these individuals.
  • Keep your connections and content relevant to your industry - This will benefit both you and your followers, keep things relevant to keep top of mind.

DON'T

  • Post too many compliments. Or, do it rarely. There's a fine line between sharing an accomplishment and bragging. Consider how you're positioning your message when it comes to this so you don't come off the wrong way.
  • Confuse LinkedIn with the other social media networks. In other words, be careful what you share. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or Instagram. Share content, advice and opinions that boost your professional credentials. It’s all about relevancy. 

INSTAGRAM

Instagram’s potential for helping businesses and brands has grown exponentially and its role in the business world is only expected to expand. Due to the platform’s newest (and controversial to some) algorithm, posts can receive a lot of engagement even days after being posted.

DO

  • Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours: Engage with other users through likes, comments, and direct messages (DM's). The more you are engaging with others, the more a post is weighted.
  • Use hashtags - Hashtags are valuable for getting your business found on Instagram’s “Discover Page”

DON'T

  • Be inconsistent. Instead, make sure you're uploading at least one or two posts per day (anything over three tends to be too much), so your followers have a chance to get to know you and your style of posts. 
  • Ignore your followers. If you’re receiving genuine comments on your Instagram posts, don’t ignore them! Get comfortable interacting with your followers, and they’ll soon become true fans, perhaps recommending their own network to follow you too.

SUMMARY

The social networks we use on a daily basis are constantly changing, refining and testing their algorithms. It’s important we keep up with them.

Facebook announced that it intends to start prioritizing “meaningful conversations’ instead of news articles.

Twitter is killing automation on the platform meaning any bots that create fake engagement via likes, follows or retweets will be quashed.

LinkedIn is prioritizing status updates by its professional users who are willing to be more personal and open about their lives.

This is the beginning of a new era in social networking. One that we’ve seen before and one that is more about human connection as opposed to information consumption.

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About Jennifer Clark

Jennifer Clark is a senior International Studies student at Fordham University and a Content Marketing & Social Media Intern with DMTraining. Prior to joining the DMTraining team, Jennifer helped various start-ups market themselves on and off campus. This summer, she hopes to add value to DMTraining by assisting clients with digital media education, using her status as an industry newcomer to her advantage. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys creative writing, making art, and petting every dog she comes across.