The rules of social media algorithms change all the time; this guide will help you understand everything from the basics of numbers to the most up-to-date tips that should keep working in 2021.
The history of social media algorithms started way back. In 2010, some companies deleted their websites and focused their communication efforts on Facebook. Back then, there was a promise that you could talk to all your fans on Facebook, thus increasing your brand’s reach.
The promise was impossible to fulfill due to an economic problem: “There is more content being produced on social networks than there is time available for people to consume this content. “
How do social media algorithms work?
To understand how to beat the social media algorithm on those who publish content, it is important first to know how it works on those who consume content.
As the user does not have time to read everything that has been published, the algorithm starts to select using four basic criteria:
1. It only selects the contents of the people, tags, and hashtags it follows.
2. Sort by the profiles he interacts with the most (comments, likes, shares, etc.)
3. Highlight the formats it consumes the most (a follower who interacts more with videos will see more videos in their timeline, a follower who interacts more with articles will see more articles, and so on).
4. Prioritize newer content over older ones.
Based on this information, I imagine that you have already managed to unravel many of the tricks they spread around, right?
For example, there is a trick for Instagram stories recommending using polls. When your follower answers a vote, this counts as an interaction (criterion 2 above). This raises your engagement and ends up moving your profile closer to the top of your followers’ story queue.
It is worth noting that there is no way to say how each network uses these four criteria; this is a secret kept under lock and key.
There are thousands of lines of code to deal with illegal content, blocked users, and other issues, but let’s focus on those four criteria that are more universal.
What to do to beat the algorithms?
Use popular hashtags – Many networks allow users to follow hashtags; choosing the proper hashtags can introduce you to many new followers. There’s a perfect tool for recommending hashtags called Display Purposes, you put in a hashtag, and it suggests several others sorted by popularity.
Some tips for using hashtags:
Do not abuse the amount; 3 to 6 is enough – Some studies show that above six hashtags, your engagement drops; it could be that the networks mark you as spam or that you seem a bit desperate for attention to your audience.
Only use hashtags that connect to your content
If they think your content is unrelated to the hashtags, you can be flagged as spam, reported, or blocked by followers or algorithms. Artificial intelligence algorithms currently have a general understanding of text and images.
Combine more popular hashtags with more specific hashtags
If you’re not a digital celebrity, it’s challenging to stand out in the most popular hashtags. In contrast, you’re vying for attention with a smaller number of people in the more targeted hashtags.
As the algorithms take post time into account, you are more likely to appear at the top of your followers’ timeline if you always have fresh content.
But remember that engagement counts too!
If your content doesn’t get a lot of engagement, it can penalize your profile as a whole. Networks generally show your content to a sample of followers more engaged with your profile; if they interact, they expand their reach to more profiles. If you get low engagement, you’re shown to a shrinking sample of followers until you become irrelevant.
So before publishing your content, ask yourself if it will generate a lot of engagement from your followers. If you think they’re just going to scroll up the timeline without even taking a break, then it’s best not to publish.
Use attention-grabbing titles and images.
While the user scrolls the timeline, he takes a “stop” to look at your post; this already counts as engagement for some networks. Your cell phone knows whether you’re looking at the screen or not, and grids use that to your advantage.
Here is the same care as the hashtag. Do not use images and titles unrelated to your content; reports from followers or artificial intelligence analysis can restrict the reach of your content and, gradually, your profile as a whole.
Try different formats
You have followers who prefer videos; others prefer photos, other articles, or stories, etc. Diversifying formats will help you reach all your followers.
When you focus on a single format, you start to lose the reach of followers who like other forms.
The tip here is to experiment with all formats, see which ones generate the most reach and engagement, and use them more often without eliminating the other forms.
Try different times
If most of your followers access your content in the morning, it’s better to have the content scheduled to be published in the morning than to publish it the night before.
As networks favor time-based content, content posted in the morning will be more prominent than content posted the night before.
Be careful with surveys that indicate times where there are more active users in a generic way. Posting according to your consumer’s behavior makes more sense. At what time of day does your follower want to read about your content? Posting in “prime time” on networks only makes sense for trendy consumer brands like Disney and Netflix.
Interact with your followers
Engagement is no longer analyzed only by the number of likes; the “like” (reaction) is also considered. If anyone likes happy content? Or emotive, this can affect the algorithms’ filters.