December 19, 2019 Content | Digital communications

Cracking the social media algorithm

By Sophie Korner

Want to nail your social media communications? Feel like your posts aren't generating enough engagement? Believe us, we've all been there. One key element for a successful social media strategy is to incorporate the algorithm behind the channel to enhance the likelihood for people to get to see your posts in the first place.

Why algorithms?

The term ‘algorithm’ might seem a bit esoteric – something that gets pushed on to your tech team and, as a result, something easily ignored by companies. Instead, content promotion tends to fall back on some tried and tested strategies, such as attaching a beautiful and captivating picture to your thought leadership piece. But consider this: how will people engage with your intriguing ideas - and eye-catching imagery! - if they can’t find the content in the first place?

With recent research suggesting that organic reach is almost dead, understanding the algorithm is crucial if you want your content to make any noise at all. In the simplest terms, when the algorithm works for you, your posts get pushed to a wider audience - and the more people view your content, the more likely you are to reach your goals.

Let’s not forget …

It’s quite difficult to know exactly how these algorithms work, as social media companies are reluctant to share their ‘secret’ recipe. However, by studying the behaviours of various channels and posts we can come to some solid conclusions as to what these rules might be.

What we do know

They favour native pictures and videos

Across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn, it is apparent that algorithms favour native videos and pictures, particularly compared to posts that use links.

Native content describes a file that is posted directly to that social media channel (i.e. not as a link to an external platform). Social media sites want to encourage people to produce and use content on their own platforms and, as a result, will promote your content more frequently when you use their built-in capabilities.

The first hour determines your post's lifetime trajectory

Social media needs trendsetters. This means that the number of likes, shares, reposts, and comments a post gets within the first hour will determine how many people will see your content down the line. Using social analytics to understand when your followers are active is a crucial skill, as you will get more reactions when your followers are there to see you post.

Prioritise content that sparks conversations

As Facebook has been facing scrutiny due to bombarding users with fake news, their first priority has changed to making people connect with their close ones.

What does this mean in algorithm terms? Posts that spark conversations will perform better. Content such as live TV streams are prioritised since they generate high engagement levels in terms of comments and reactions. 

Posting regularly

Posting regularly on your social channels will show you are an active user which will ensure your posts are pushed to the top of your followers' feeds . The more posts the better! Contrary to popular belief, you will not be 'penalised' for posting too much. Though be careful not to post the same post multiple times, as this might resemble a spam account.

Like attracts like

So, you might be wondering why these likes are so important. Well, they’re what allow you to interact with the right audience, again and again. LinkedIn want you, as an individual, to have a personalised feed. This means the posts you like and comment on tell the algorithm that these are the sort of posts and companies you want to interact with. In turn, this means that people who 'like' your post are more likely to see the next thing you share.

Longer comments do make a difference

Yes, you read that right: long-form comments are better in algorithm terms. This means the longer the comments you receive, the better the algorithm weighing.  As a result it's not just 'posts that sparks conversation' that's being prioritised but also the quality and the depth of the conversation too.  Your content can't just be spam for the sake of keeping your account active, it needs to offer your followers questions to consider.

LinkedIn and the human factor

An interesting fact about LinkedIn’s algorithm is that it's the only network that includes a human element. This means that when your post get a good response, a staff member will actually have a look at it and decide if it should be shown to your 2nd/3rd-degree connections. What they're also considering is who you are as a company and what sort of network you regularly interact with, in addition to the post's quality.

So the next time you use your social channels, make sure your followers have reasons to engage with your content and, crucially, that you’re posting when they’re active!

Overwhelmed?

Here at Comprend, we have the experience and knowledge to help you understand the social media landscape, the algorithms underpinning it, and the content that is needed for this. If you feel like you need a guiding star, we are here to help!

Charlotte Naversten

Content Strategist/
Project Manager

charlotte.naversten@comprend.com

+46 739 85 55 77

Rowena Crowley

Senior Consultant

rowena.crowley@comprend.com

+44 (0)20 8089 1588