A Quick Guide to Mastering Social Media Algorithms

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Social media algorithms – the holy grail of internet marketing – ask around and someone’s bound to tell you it’s the difference between a winning content strategy and one that flunks the bat.

They’re right! For the savvy digital market expert, social media algorithms (a mastery of it, that is) presents a clear cut pathway to consumer engagement and juicy conversions. Many have exploited their nuanced mechanisms, and many continue to do so. Today you’re probably wondering how you too can join this cohort of social media virtuosos. It’s not as hard as you might have envisaged

First things first – what are algorithms

Social media algorithms are a complex way to do simple things. Complex in the sense that they’re comprised of several hundred, if not thousand lines of code all working to do something very simple – provide social media users with content that personalized and most relevant to them.

Facebook, Google and virtually everyone who run social media sites knows that users will only come back if they see what they like every time they log on; algorithms are there to make that happen given the hoard of irrelevant information circulated through social media.

So how does this relate to me a content publisher is a next question you might ask. Well its simple logic really, if your content ticks all the checkboxes of relevant to an algorithm then invariably that algorithm will promote your content to the user base of its parent site. Sadly, this works both ways; if your content performs poorly at an algorithms relevance index, then it will be pushed to the back burner.

Understanding social media algorithms

Despite their complex undertones, getting to grips with how social media algorithms work and developing ways to mastering them is not rocket science. In fact, most social media sites have clearly defined blueprints on how their algorithms handle ‘signals’ to dictate what gets shown and to whom it gets shown at any point.

From this and through experience, it’s easy to map out a strategy that exploits these algorithms. Here’s a brief rundown.

User interaction is a huge flag no algorithm will miss

When your content gets people talking, you’re basically promoting what social media sites want in the first place – interaction and user engagement. For that, you’ll be handsomely rewarded by their algorithms. It’s important to note that algorithms track user interaction by measuring metrics like comments, likes, and shares. Proven methods of pulling these metrics to your page is to create content that;

  • Piques the interest of users
  • Contains a call to action
  • Speaks on a subject they’re passionate about

Tag the people who matter

Social media hosts a deeply interconnected web of users. User A is connected to user B, and user B is in turn connected to user C. even though user C doesn’t bear a direct connection to user A it’s easy to see that a pathway for information spread – through user B – exists between user A and C.

The key takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily need to be connected to everyone to reach everyone – just one (or two, three) seeds is all it takes to make your social media forest flourish. So next time you create a post, make sure to tag influential users who relate with the content you’re sharing. When you do that you’re shining a beacon for them (and everyone else linked to them) to see and interact with your content.

Timing matters, a lot

There’s such a thing as peak hours – the time when your audience base is most active on social media and slow hours – the period when they’re mostly offline. Recognizing what time of the day these two periods fall under is the first step to making social media algorithms work for you.

That’s because most social media algorithms (save twitter) are optimized to place a premium on time relevancy. They’ll want to show users more current information ahead of old posts. If most of your posts fall into the period when your users are offline, then they’re more likely to land in the trash can of stale posts. Avoid that by creating a social media timetable that takes peak hours into account.

The bottom line

Algorithms are there to sieve out quality content from fluff, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see that most of the tips recommended here push you towards creating better content. Although one or two ‘black hat’ methods to game the system might pop up once in a while, they’re always short-lived. Worse still they could get your content blacklisted. So, if you want to stay on top of algorithms, make sure to produce quality content consistently.

Consistency is key for social media algorithms. For your audience to recognize your brand, you must be consistent. Being consistent in your social media brand allows you to grow in audience engagement and reach, satisfying both users and algorithms.