Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your social media feed for extended periods, engaging in content that seems to be perfectly tailored to your interests? This is precisely what popular media outlets like Instagram and TikTok want to happen to keep their users engaged on their platforms. But how do you use this to your advantage? Here is everything you need to know about social media algorithms.

What is a social media algorithm?

A social media algorithm is a set of signals used to rank an individual user’s feed. The algorithm accounts for the user’s interactions with specific content to customize the feed to a user’s interests.

How do algorithms work?

Social media algorithms operate based on the user’s interests. They analyze your past behavior, engagement, interests, and connections to create a unique social media feed for you. If you interact with a post (like, comment, share, etc.), the algorithm will rank that specific content at the top of your algorithm, meaning you are more likely to see similar posts in the future. For example, if I interact with a lot of tennis content, the algorithm will show me more tennis-related posts.

Instagram algorithms

Instagram reels have soared in popularity since they were introduced in August 2020. Reels provide the opportunity for users to create short videos that they want to share on their feeds. You have the option to share with your followers or, if you have a public account, have your reels shared on Instagram’s “Explorer” page. The ladder option provides a stage for users to grow as content creators or gain exposure to their business/brand.

Here are a few signals the Instagram algorithm accounts for:

Posting Patterns: Instagram rewards accounts that are active on the platform. Their algorithm will favor those who post frequently rather than every few days/weeks.

Content: Does your reel have good quality? Does your reel have audio? Does your reel follow Instagram’s community guidelines?

Who Posted It?: How popular is the person/account who posted the reel?

TikTok algorithms

The TikTok algorithm functions similarly to Instagram’s algorithm in that it is highly influenced by user interaction. It considers similar signals such as likes, comments, shares, etc. To further customize your feed, TikTok also considers how much of the video you watched. If you watch the entirety of a video, TikTok will take note. TikTok also looks at video information, including details like captions, sounds, and hashtags. Device and account settings also hold a little weight in the TikTok algorithm. Language preference, country setting, and device type play a role.  

How to use algorithms to your advantage: 

Post original, high-quality content: People want to see content they’re interested in. That starts with a quality video and an intriguing idea.

Follow the trends: Not all trends will align with your brand, but if you find one that does, it’s a good idea to follow along with the fun!

Know the best times to post: Taking note of when users are more likely to be on the platform can be beneficial when seeking viewership.  

Encourage comments and shares: Having users interact with your content is the best way for it to be seen by many others, so why not ask for it? A fun idea would be to hold a raffle and enter every user who tags a friend in the comments for a chance to win a prize.

Post more videos: Video content on social media has become the craze. So, give the people what they want and incorporate more creative videos that align with your brand.