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Deciphering social media algorithms – and making them work for you!

What we see on social media does not happen by chance.

In the early days of Facebook, we would see everything that our friends posted, and it was delivered to us in chronological order. But as more and more businesses began using social media for their marketing, newsfeeds became saturated. Algorithms were introduced to determine what content we saw.

Social media algorithms are not necessarily a bad thing, if you understand them and know how to work with them. Businesses who adapt their marketing to work with algorithms are going to be more successful than those who ignore them and hope for the best. Understanding social media algorithms is important for anyone trying to get a message out to consumers.


By definition, an algorithm is a set of rules or calculations used to solve problems and deliver a result. Algorithms are used in major platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to deliver to content to the user. The result is that all content you see on your newsfeed is determined by algorithms that take into account your interests, activity and interactions on the platform.

As a consumer, you may not even be aware that algorithms are working in the background of your favourite social media. But as a business, it’s vitally important to not only be aware of algorithms, but to know how they work and how to use them to your advantage.


Algorithms may seem complicated but in actually fact are relatively simple in the way they deliver. Essentially the algorithm will take into account several key factors which will determine the ranking of social media posts on your newsfeed.

· Interest: How interested you will be in a certain post will be determined based on past content that you have viewed, liked or interacted with.

· Relationship: An algorithm will also take into account your relationship with the user who posted the content. Users you’ve interacted with most in the form of comments, likes, tags and direct messages will appear higher in the news feed.

· Frequency: How often you open the app. The algorithm will show you the best post since your last visit.

· Following: The more people you follow the less frequent you’ll see multiple posts from the same people.

· Recency: Put simply, more recently posted content will appear on the newsfeed.

· Usage: The time you spent in the app will also determine which posts you see. The more time you spend in the app, the more variety of posts you will see.


Understanding how an algorithm works means you can use it to your advantage and increase engagement.

Here’s a few tips on how to make social media algorithms work for you:

· Get the stats: Do your research into what kind of content the algorithm favours; and make sure your content fits. This is done by closely monitoring your social media insights.

· Post when your audience is online and active: Engagement with social posts is now factored by speed, so it’s important that you are putting out your content when people are online and ready to engage with it. You can see in your insights when the best time is to post in order to hit your target audiences.

· Use “Stories”: Facebook and Instagram both have the stories feature, which is a quick and instant way for people to view and engage in content. Use stories to provide your customer the “right here right now” message rather than relying on them scrolling for content.

· Hold their attention: Because the social media algorithm is keeping tabs on how long people are looking at your posts for, make sure there’s a good reason to keep them there. It all comes down to the type of content you are sharing.

· Engage with your audience: The social media algorithm tracks how frequently you’re engaging with other people’s content; so try to respond to comments on your posts, and like and comment on other relevant posts.


Want to know more about using algorithms to your advantage?

Get in touch with My Media today and enjoy successful social media campaigns tomorrow!

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