Gaming Social Media Algorithms

Social Media networks use algorithms. Recently, there was news about changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm. Those algorithms – processes or sets of rules to be followed in calculations – are not made public and business users are always trying to figure them out.

If you knew the way Instagram or Facebook programs their feeds, you could “game the system” to have your content featured prominently.

Those networks would tell you that they are programming to get the best content in front of people. You can find articles that try to break down the factors that determine your content’s ranking, but remember that those algorithms are always being tweaked and often in ways to best display advertising.

I doubt that anyone but Instagram knows exactly how their algorithm works, but one post I saw listed these seven key factors.

  1. Engagement: How popular the post is
  2. Relevancy: The genres of content you are interested in and have interacted with
  3. Relationships: The accounts you regularly interact with
  4. Timeliness: How recent the posts are
  5. Profile Searches: The accounts you check out often
  6. Direct Shares: Whose posts you are sharing
  7. Time Spent: The duration spent viewing a post

Engagement is the obvious part of any social algorithm. Consideration of likes, comments, views, shares, saves, story views, and views of live and posted videos all drive content to the top of feeds.

Perhaps less obvious are things like profile searches, which are when you search multiple times for particular profiles. That interest in someone not in your feed would then rank those posts higher on your feed. Instagram says that when they experimented with this in a new algorithm, the number of searches went down, which they took as a sign that users no longer needed to search on their own.

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