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Find your algo-rhythm

Social media algorithms may seem like mystical mind-reading artificial intelligence (AI), but the basics can be explained pretty simply. Algorithms work by looking at what kind of content you regularly interact with, often in conjunction with available data about you (like your age, location, and gender). This allows the AI to learn what you like, and then curate content that is in line with what you’ve expressed interest in.

The purpose of these algorithms is threefold:

  1. To show you a timeline that is relevant to you or, in the case of business profiles, so that you see content from other professionals or thought leaders in the same industry as you. 
  2. The algorithm also wants to showcase the content you put out, to what it considers to be your best audience. 
  3. To encourage you to spend more time on the platform in question by giving you a well-curated timeline, which allows the platform to boost their ad revenue by showing you more relevant ads.
  4. It’s good for business.

So, curating a relevant and engaging timeline doesn’t only benefit you by giving you better content to scroll through. These platforms want to know what you as a consumer enjoy, because appealing to your interests means better business for them. In turn, appealing to the algorithm to improve your reach and have your posts show up on the timelines of your target audience, will help you learn what your audience likes, which means better business for you too. While the algorithms for each of the major platforms may differ, across the board they will favour consistent posting of engaging content that sparks discussion.

How platforms differ 

Getting the Facebook and Instagram algorithms on your side can be tricky - this has been especially prevalent on these platforms since their move away from chronological feeds. For an in-depth look at how the Facebook algorithm works, here’s an article by our Head of Digital PR and Marketing, Pieter Geyser, that lays out what you need to know to boost your engagement as a brand on Facebook. Because Instagram is Facebook’s baby, their algorithms are very similar and the same kind of approach can be applied to both. 

Many platforms, such as LinkedIn, use the algorithm as a kind of two-way street. If you consistently engage with content that you find interesting or which aligns with your business on your LinkedIn timeline, LinkedIn will, in a sense, reward you by boosting the visibility of your own content to other people. Adversely, if you don’t engage with other people’s content very often, LinkedIn won’t boost the content you put out in the same way. Training your LinkedIn algorithm is a good way to improve your chances of targeting the right audience for your brand’s voice and making sure your posts are high up in their feed.

Engagement is key

Because you know how the algorithm decides what to show you more of, you can also reverse the process to figure out how to post content that the algorithm will show to your best potential audience. To make your posts more visible, it’s important to consider the things that would influence whether your audience engages with a particular post or not. You’ll want to aim for posts that encourage positive reaction and discussion, because that’s a factor that most algorithms favour. Observe the kind of content that resonates with you. Consider what drives you to like, save, or comment on a post, and try to implement those compelling elements into your own content. A like-minded audience will usually engage with what you could see yourself engaging with.

Go forth!

Starting to grow your audience by developing a relevant algorithm that reflects your niches, is something you’re already doing just by scrolling through your Instagram explore page. And to fully exploit the benefits of the algorithm, you just need to know the basics. Marketing is more social media-centric than ever so developing your social media savviness is integral to personal networking or, if your social accounts are oriented around a brand, growing your audience and inspiring brand loyalty. 

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