Last Updated: October 18th, 2023
As a marketer, you are well aware of the significant impact social media has in reaching new customers and enhancing your brand presence.
However, it’s crucial to recognize that the algorithms implemented by various social media platforms play a pivotal role in determining the visibility of your content.
Understanding the intricacies of these algorithms is paramount to crafting a social media strategy that maximizes outreach.
In this article, we delve into the algorithms of four prominent social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Additionally, we provide over 10 hacks to optimize your content for each platform. Let’s embark on this insightful journey!
You can go through the entire article or if you prefer, you can directly jump to the section of your choice!
Social Media Algorithms – How Do They Work?
The algorithm of a social media platform is the set of rules that determines what content people see in their feed.
These algorithms are constantly changing, as the big tech social media companies are constantly trying to tweak them so that users are on their apps longer.
The longer users go scrolling on Instagram or Facebook, the more money Meta (the owners of Facebook + Instagram) makes.
How do they keep users on their apps longer? By suggesting content the user wants to see, so they keep clicking and scrolling.
How do they know what content the user wants to see?
- They use tracking cookies to track what the user is interested in
- They can see the user behavior to see what they clicked on, engaged with, etc.
They then use this information to optimize what the user sees and to keep them engaged.
The Facebook algorithm is constantly changing, but there are some key things to keep in mind when designing your social media strategy.
First, Facebook favors content from friends and family over businesses or brands. So if you’re trying to reach a new audience on Facebook, it’s important to create content that is shareable and that will encourage people to tag their friends.
This might be:
- Content that’s funny or entertaining in some shape
- Content that educates, inspires or gives users a new perspective
You can even consider using a personal profile, as they naturally have higher reach because Facebook wants to make businesses pay for ads.
Second, Facebook favors medium-form content and images over short posts or videos.
In terms of video content, Facebook favors native video content over links to external videos or articles. Again, this is because Facebook wants to maximize advertising revenue, so they aren’t trying to push people off their platform.
So if you’re sharing a video on Facebook, make sure it’s hosted on Facebook itself.
However, there are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to Facebook videos:
- They should be under three minutes, as people have short attention spans online.
- The video should be visually appealing, with bright colors and engaging visuals.
- The sound is off by default, as many people scroll through Facebook without sound.
- There should be a clear call to action at the end of the video.
Content that performs best: Videos, images, and medium-length written content
The Instagram algorithm favors visual content that catches attention easily. Most users on Instagram have a low attention span, so unless it’s posted on a topic or from someone they are really interested in, they will not go out of their way to read it.
Meaning: You should make your content visually appealing and easy to consume. We see some brands upload photos that are really a wall of text.
This doesn’t catch attention, so it’s likely not going to get engagement, and, therefore, won’t get picked up by the algorithm.
Generally speaking, the algorithm will promote posts that have a high engagement-to-impression ratio. Therefore, it’s important that you get as much engagement as possible so that the Instagram algorithm is taking your content and sending it to more feeds.
Here are some ways you can increase your engagement:
- Ask questions/Fill in the blank posts
- Post milestones/Happy announcements that people will like/congratulate
- Create Challenge posts where users return to see the next post
Most importantly, the best way to reach your audience on Instagram is by using stories and reels.
When Instagram releases a new feature such as stories or reels, they often promote that feature in the algorithm, so creators use it more.
When creating a reel, you can add topics for better categorization of your videos for better engagement and reach. You can do so by going to Advance settings & “Add topics”. It lets you choose 3 topics that are relevant to your video clip.
This is because most of the new features that Instagram releases directly compete with other social media platforms like Tiktok (IG reels) or Snapchat (IG stories).
And Instagram wants to become the most used platform for those formats too.
The LinkedIn algorithm is different from other social media platforms as it favors content that is timely and relevant to users’ professional lives.
It suggests the content by looking at which groups you’re in, who, and also what hashtags you follow.
From there, it suggests popular content – similar to other platforms.
As a creator, you’ll want to ensure you are posting content your audience is interested in, i.e. what they find helpful. You can also share milestones and company news as “feel good” content often gets good engagement.
Low engagement will trigger content quality filters to not suggest content.
Therefore, it’s important to:
- Create engaging content (Blog posts, short-form stories, images, and videos all work well on LinkedIn)
- Relevancy: Ensure your content is relevant to the audience to ensure you get engagement
Content that performs best: Medium to long-form content, photos with captions, and videos. Professional tone.
The YouTube algorithm is heavily based on watch time, so it’s important to create content that keeps people engaged.
This means your videos should be one of the following:
Ultimately, It should spark some type of emotion or hook the viewer.
You can also encourage engagement by:
Asking viewers to like and comment on your videos works, but it’s most effective when done in a creative way that catches their attention.
The other big factor for the YouTube algorithm is the click-through rate (CTR). The more videos you click, the more ad revenue YouTube makes, so they optimize by finding videos viewers are likely to click on and show them to them.
What does this mean for you?
- Create great eye-catching thumbnails
- Make the title interesting but don’t let it give away too much
You must also optimize your YouTube videos with the right keywords to get your content suggested to the right audience.
Bonus tip: YouTube shorts can be effective too as YouTube has a specific section for them now. You can check out our full article on YouTube shorts.
Designing a Social Media Strategy? 10+ Simple Hacks To Keep in Mind
Finally, we wanted to walk you through some “algorithm hacks” that you can keep in mind when designing your social media strategy.
1. Repurpose Content to make it native to the platform
Every platform is trying to keep their users on their own platform so they make ad revenue. The content that performs best is native-form content, as it’s:
- Not taking the user away
- Optimized to the characteristics of the platform
Repurpose your content to make it native to every platform.
2. Run Questions, Giveaways, Controversy, etc.
Questions, Giveaways, etc. are a great way to get users to engage, which leads to the algorithm picking it up. You can also consider using controversy, and if you want to remain neutral, you can simply ask the audience if they agree or disagree with (Hot current/Controversial event).
3. Engagement bait people but don’t try to trick the algorithm through bots
There are many ways you can bait people into engaging. There are endless opportunities, whether it’s asking a controversial question or asking the audience to share their opinion on a topic.
And it works, the social media platforms will see that people are spending their attention on your post. Therefore, they will suggest it.
What doesn’t work: Buying botted followers or likes, as the platform will quickly be able to notice and won’t suggest your content to the next people.
4. Understand what your audience has emotional attachments to
One of the biggest algorithm hacks is to actually understand the people-side of it. Social media platforms try to suggest content the user is likely to click on because of intrigue, interest, and the will to feel good.
Understand what your audience:
- Has emotional attachments too
- Finds interesting or wants to learn
- Gets entertained by
Once you understand this, you can adjust your content for this, and will naturally get a lot more engagement, so the algorithms will pick you up more.
5. Use of AI Tools
If you want to get better results using AI writing tools, remember to add these three things:
- Who you’re writing FOR.
- Who you’re writing AS.
- Which channel is it going up on
6. Optimize for Page Load Speed
Always optimize for page speed, delay in every second reduces 7% of conversion!
7. Video Content
Post at least one video or reel to your Social media channels to boost it’s performance.
8. Serial Positioning Effect
While writing copy, place the most important content at the beginning and end of the piece.
9. sharing is caring!
Send a fresh post or reel to 10 people immediately after posting (from another account) so Instagram picks it up.
10. Link placement is important
Post links in first comments or in DM rather than in post description as social media sites demote posts with links.
11. Visibility Boost!
Post stories with links to a fresh post for extra visibility.
12. Provoke Curiosity!
Use curiosity in your copy in carousels as social sites measure how many carousels people scroll through.
Social media algorithms are important to understand because they heavily dictate how many people your content reaches.
The most important part of any social media platform is that you’re creating the native format of the platform and creating content the user actually wants to see. Because this way, they’ll engage with it, and the social media platform will keep sending it to the next person’s feed.
For more digital marketing news and updates, visit our blog, where we break down the latest technology to help you succeed.
Want us to run your social media campaign? Book yourself in for a free consultation here to get started.