How do Social Media Algorithms work?

How do Social Media Algorithms
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You have probably heard the term algorithms thrown around. You might even have looked it up to get a better understanding of it altogether. Doesn’t matter what you found, in this article we break down the term and give you a brief insight into how this social media boogeyman operates.

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So hang tight, let us dive in.


What are social media algorithms?

Remember the boring math lesson where your tutor mentioned logarithms? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but that lesson was and still is the basis of this frenzy.

An algorithm is a set of mathematical rules specifying how a specific group of data behaves and performs. When it comes to social media these sets of rules help with maintaining order and assist in the ranking of search results and ads.

Still no clear? Keep reading….

In October 2021, there were up to 4.5 billion internet users. Of the 4.5 billion, 57 percent of these were social media users. That’s more than half. Algorithms come in handy because of these big numbers. Using algorithms, monitoring, and managing data to present to internet users the best available content is made much easier. they are used on social media to sort content in the feed of a user, based on their past activity and trends at the moment. The big numbers mean there’s a lot of content available and algorithms are a way for social media networks to prioritize the content they think is preferable to a user.

How do social media Algorithms Work?

Social Media Algorithms are as simple as they are complex. While their purpose is to deliver the most relevant content to the respective consumers, under the hood machine learning and data science are involved. Algorithms are capable of parsing data, and ranking posts based on criteria that a human being might not fully comprehend or understand.

Some social media networks are transparent about what will help rank content so as to push users to prioritize their platforms. For example, the recent Facebook algorithm changes made it clear what had to be done for accounts that wanted to remain in their good graces. It was communicated that accounts that prioritized meaningful conversations over transactions were to be favored. Similarly, Instagram did the same thing after, canceling engagement baiting and pushing for more native video content.

As of 2021, among the factors that affect social media algorithms, are interest, relationship with a user, following, session time, time posted, and user session time.

To know how algorithms really work firsthand experimenting and fishing for what networks are actually saying is important.

Before Algorithms?

Before algorithms were adopted many social media feeds were full of posts in reverse chronological order. This means that the latest posts from followed accounts always showed up first. Twitter still has this option but it is simply that, an option.

An analysis of YouTube found that videos still got millions of views even though they were not relevant to a user but still chosen by an algorithm.

To crown it all, the question should be, are algorithms making social media better or worse. The answer is yes and no. this is because they limit the content based on past activity and ‘hide’ other content from users.