Introduction to Algorithms

In everyday life an algorithm is simply a ‘recipe’ for a process – a set of instructions used to provide an answer to a question.  

In this article, I look at how social media algorithms have altered the way marketers use social media.  

This definition highlights the impact of these algorithms on the visibility of social media content: 

“Algorithms in social media platforms can be defined as technical means of sorting posts based on relevancy instead of publish time, in order to prioritize which content a user sees first according to the likelihood that they will actually engage with such content.” https://www.internetjustsociety.org/algorithms-in-social-media-platforms  

The upshot is that your content must be relevant and engaging – and this is a challenge. 

Algorithms seem to be harmless to the average person, as they look through content and only deliver ‘relevant’ content for the user rather than random posts. It’s a way of controlling and prioritising which content a user sees in their feed first. The algorithms use the patterns of behaviour of a user including past searches and interactions.  

Before algorithms, social media feeds showed ALL posts in chronological order, where the newest posts first. Even though newsfeeds allow the user to sort their feeds by recency, the posts are still filtered by the algorithms. 

An example of an algorithm is the results you see on YouTube. It uses your previously viewed and recent searches on the platform, and videos either linked or from the same creator will be recommended for you, the next time you visit YouTube.  

This information is collected from your patterns – how long you watched a video for, whether you clicked off halfway through, who you searched for the most and what videos you view the most. It then uses this information to recommend videos that you may like, based on your past patterns. 

How does the algorithm affect the reach of your social media

Algorithms affect the reach of social media posts negatively and positively. 

This is because algorithms can keep your content at the top of your followers’ feeds or leave you at the bottom to hardly ever be seen1.  

If the business engages with their followers and their target audience then it will push the next content to the top of their followers’ feeds. This results in the opportunity to build loyalty with your followers and have constant engagement with them. 

However, if there is little or no engagement then subsequent posts are unlikely to show up in their followers’ feed. 

Another way it affects the reach of social media posts is that it helps you to understand when and what to post for each platform. For example, you could have good engagement on LinkedIn, however, little on Facebook. Each platform has a different and specific algorithm, as well as different trends and patterns and if you don’t monitor these patterns and data then your strategy will fall short2. 

The Alternative to Organic - Pay to Play

As a result of the lack of reach of organic social media activity, businesses have turned to paid advertising which ensures that your content is delivered to your ideal customer based on demographics. 

Categories: social media