5 Minutes To: Algorithms and Social Media
10th September in 5 Minutes To
We all know that social media content is aggregated by mysterious algorithms that decide what you see and who sees your content. But what is an algorithm, and how does it determine what content to show?
SEO comes to mind; however, not all content is accessed via a search engine, social media is an integral part of any marketing strategy worth it’s salt. Social media platforms act as a proxy homepage for your business, and they are fantastic ways to communicate with potential and existing customers. Still, the question remains: How can you optimise your content to be prioritised within algorithms?
What is an Algorithm?
I should first state that I’m no tech wiz, but I’ll do my best to describe the basics. In its most simple form, an algorithm is a set of rules used to sort data. This data is put through three phases: input, transformation, and output. The input is the data that will be sorted, the transformation is the series of decisions that are made about the data depending on the rules that are programmed in, and finally, the output is the presentation of the transformed data.
Jory Deny, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science, describes it in relation to getting dressed in this article:
- Input: What clothes do you have? What is the weather? Do you need to dress for rain or sunshine?
- Transformation: You can do the maths from your input quantities and decide that as it is cold outside, you need a jacket. This can then be repeated for each piece of clothing to decide if it is appropriate.
- Output: Having made your decisions, you put on your clothes and go about your day.
This is an extremely simplified version of events, but it describes the process that your data goes through in an algorithm. This happens in social media too. You post your content which is then analysed by the platform’s algorithm. The algorithm sorts your post and decides where to show it on your audience’s feeds by measuring it against its ‘rules’. These rules are kept extremely secret, and very few people know exactly what each social platform’s ideal post looks like. However, through trial and error, we’ve gotten pretty close. There are hundreds of ways you can optimise your content for each social algorithm. In this blog, I’m going to take you through 5 you may not have considered.
How to optimise your content
Typically when people talk about content optimisation, they are referring to SEO and copywriting; however, there are many ways to boost your online presence without writing blogs.
Write for humans, not for the algorithm
This may seem obvious, but when it comes to optimisation, people seem to write what they think the computer wants to read. However, the programme is written by people and is trying to show the people what they want to see. Keywords are important but making sense is paramount. Use clear CTAs and full sentences when writing blogs, captions and even subtitles.
It’s also worth mentioning that when people search, they are using voice controls more and more often. By writing in full sentences, you can optimise your content for all platforms.
Using links in your content is a great way to link out your content to other pages such as your eshop, business landing page, or other relevant media. But when you’re using links, it’s a great idea to use sites like Bit.ly, which allow you to track how many people have clicked through and their locations and demographics. For platforms where you are limited in how many links you can post, for example, Instagram, you can use intermediary platforms such as Linktree, which will also show you how many clicks you have amassed.
Whilst adding trackable links to your content won’t boost your position in the algorithm, it will provide you with a set of data through which you can analyse what your customers want. After all, knowledge is power!
Many social media platforms, for example, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, all offer business accounts for companies looking to use these platforms. Business accounts are a simple way to see your social media analytics. Knowing what your audience is engaging with means that you can produce more similar content and spot any weaknesses in your output. Having a business account also means that you can easily boost your content in a relatively inexpensive way and even use it as a customer service tool.
Time of day
Time of day is hugely important in boosting your place in the algorithm and, as a result, your engagement. If you post your news at 3 am then very few people will see it. This means that the amount of people who interact with it is limited, which means that the algorithm will rank it lower. This means that it won’t appear near the top of people’s feeds which again means that you will get fewer interactions. Poorly timed content is often subject to a vicious cycle of poor performance; however, this is easily solved. Posting at times your audience is online is a great way to boost your engagement. By knowing who your audience is, you can predict (and even track) what times they are most active. For example, 1 pm on a Wednesday might be a poor time to interact with working professionals; however, it’s a fantastic time to engage with a stay at home parents. Knowing your audience is the key.
Posting constantly can easily boost your positioning in the algorithm, but what does consistency mean? I think these are two important facets to explore: your posting consistency and your theme consistency.
Posting content consistently is important as it can amplify your platform within the algorithm as it learns to expect your posts. However, it is also important not to overdo it. Posting more than once in a day or ‘double posting’ can actually harm your ranking. An easy way to manage this is to write a 30, 60, or 90 day content calendar. By planning your posts, you can set aside weeks to devote to themes and promotions well in advance and even schedule your content ahead of time, which will save you some late nights. When planning content, it’s important to leave some room for versatility and reactiveness. Your plan may be set in stone, but current events fluctuate daily and addressing current events and trends is a great way to boost your posts.
Theme can refer to the colour palette of your social channel, but in this case, I’m referring to the theme of your content. Brand identity is a powerful tool and can serve to confuse or engage your audience. For example, If you’re selling smart home products posting content that is relevant to smart home will serve to boost your position as a smart home focussed platform. This will allow the algorithm to push your posts towards people who are interested in smart home technology and result in better exposure. This results in followers who are attuned to your content and willing to engage. Staying on theme is an understated way to build up your brand’s identity.
And there you have it, five easy tips for boosting your place in the algorithm. If you need help with your business’s social media, contact Beacon at beaconagency.co.uk