What are social media algorithms and why do they matter?

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What are social media algorithms and why do they matter?

If you use social media to promote your business you may have found it’s excruciating to get your marketing messages in front of your followers. This can be for a number of reasons, but social media algorithms are sure to be playing their part.

What are social media algorithms?

Algorithms are how social media sites sort posts and information into an order that’s useful to each user. This is why if you peek over your colleague’s shoulder to see what’s in their Facebook feed it will look very different to what you see. This is true even if you follow a lot of the same people and brands.

Back before algorithms came to social media you’d see the latest posts published by the people you followed. This made it easy for brands to plan what time of day to share their latest news or offer. They simply had to check the time or day of the week that they got the most engagement and this told them when their audience was online.

However, with the huge amount of content that is now available on social media, platforms have introduced algorithms in order to sort out the most relevant posts for users and improve their experience.

It’s important to say that Twitter still gives people the option to set their timeline in chronological order. But it’s up to your followers to opt-in.

How do algorithms work?

A social media’s algorithms use artificial intelligence to show you information that it thinks you want to see. This is based on your online relationships, demographics and topics that you have engaged with before.

So, if you comment regularly on posts by a certain brand or your Aunty Dot then you will see more of their content in the future. And if your Aunty Dot likes a public image or video, the social media algorithm will pop it in your feed too. This is because it has worked out you have similar interests.

Algorithms also help social networks make money. They use them to manipulate the content of each users’ feed in favour of relevant paid adverts. This means businesses not using paid ads on social media will be less visible than their competitors who do.

The result for businesses is that the only guaranteed way to have your posts appear in front of your customers is to pay for advertising.

Can you get around algorithms?

The good news is yes, to an extent.

Creating engaging social media content is important – things that get people reacting, commenting and sharing your posts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn will all show popular content like this in more people’s feeds.

You can also keep an eye on the latest social media trends and features. For example, on Instagram brands that make Reels videos, which were introduced in 2020, will find the number of people their posts reach improves across their account.

We recommend that our clients use a mixture of paid social media posts and creative content to strike the right balance. This involves devising a social media strategy that sets out your objectives and a plan for developing content that will reach your customers.

If you’d like to give your social media marketing a boost then talk to us about how you can work with social media algorithms and reach your target audience online.

Amplify PR is a Southampton-based PR agency specialising in digital marketing as well as copywriting, social media training and media relations. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your business grow online.