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A Guide to Using Social Media Algorithms to Your Advantage

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By Jennifer Clark 

 

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 organization. A great social media strategy should be at the core of any brand and organization, and knowledge of algorithms is key to this strategy.  

The truth is that algorithms mean something different for every social media platform. Each is slightly different, and your social media strategy should be tailored to take advantage of each platform’s rules. 

 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.  

Here is a quick guide to each social media platform’s algorithm along with helpful tips and tricks for keeping your content top of mind and reaching possible clients across the digital landscape. 


Facebook 

The biggest concern organizations have with Facebook’s newest algorithm is the decline in organic reach. Previously, an organization could begin sharing content and information on the site and expect to reach thousands of Facebook’s billions of users. However, the new algorithm prioritizes engagement between friends and family. Content that facilitates these engagements, conversations, and sharing has a better chance of ranking higher on the feed. 

Do 

  • Reference trending topics. This will help to drive discussion and comments about your posts. 
  • Use 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, members and customers like to see the people and creativity behind an organization. Video is an efficient and cost-effective way to get more attention. 
  • Interact in the comments section. The site prioritizes posts 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 words or commands such as like, comment, and share. 
  • Use the words — promotion, free, or 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 to bring 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.

Do 

  • Fully use the expanded 280-character limit to communicate more to potential clients. 
  • Focus on native content. 
  • Interact with other users. Reply, like, favorite, retweet, and quote. 
  • Tweet every day.
  • Share original images and videos. Images especially are ranked highly in the Twitter algorithm. 
  • Use 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 percent of the time and you’ll get great results. 
  • Go overboard on 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 many other platforms. LinkedIn is all about expanding your network and connecting you to like-minded people in your industry or related industries. 

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. 
  • 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 others. 
  • Keep your connections and content relevant to your industry. This will benefit both you and your followers. 

Don't 

  • Post too many compliments. 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 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. The more you are engaging with others, the more a post is weighted. 
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags are valuable for getting your organization found on the Discover Page. 

Don't 

  • Be inconsistent. Make sure you're uploading at least one or two posts per day (anything more than 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. 

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 is more about human connection as opposed to information consumption. 


Jennifer Clark is a senior international studies student at Fordham University and a content marketing and social media intern with DMTraining. Test your knowledge with DMTraining’s free digital skills test.


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