How Social Media Algorithms work in 2022

Instagram ranks posts based on six ranking signals. These are:

  • Interests

The social ranking engine aims to show its users posts they’re likely going to engage with– leave a comment on, pause to consume it, give it a like, or save it.

  • Relationship with other users

Instagram is likely to show posts to users from other users with whom they regularly interact. To this end, the algorithm looks at things like: do the two accounts tag each other, like or comment on each other’s content, message one another, search each other by name, and/or follow each other.

  • Timeliness

The Instagram algorithm aims to keep up with the trends. It’s why it shows posts to users that are fresh (and so, more relevant to them).

  • Number of follows

The algorithm also factors in how many pages/accounts users follow to prioritize content to show to them. If someone follows a lot of shoe brands, for example, the algorithm prioritizes showing it content from accounts that the user has most engaged with.

  • Frequency of app use

The more someone uses the IG app, the fresher posts they’ll see. In contrast, if the person doesn’t use the app as frequently, the algorithm will show them posts aligned to their interest to keep them on the app.

  • Session time

This is similar to the point above – only that it revolves around how much time users spend on the app in a given session. Put simply, if someone spends more time per session, they’re likely to see all posts.

How can brands use Instagram to maximize their ROI?

Based on how the Instagram algorithm works, here’s what you need to be doing:

  • Create audience-relevant content. There’s no way you can grow on Instagram without creating content that interests your target audience.
  • Engage with your audience. Of course, you can’t follow each one of them. But getting back to comments and replying to DMs are surefire ways to get your content in front of your followers while growing strong relationships with them.
  • Post consistently and when your audience is online: Don’t go overboard – two posts per week is a good publishing cadence.
  • Use the right hashtags: Doing so will help you increase your discoverability and engagement. Here’s how to use hashtags the right way on Instagram.
  • Diversify your content mix: From carousels to bite-sized videos and memes, provide an engaging content mix to your audience to keep them hooked to your content.
  • Encourage engagement: Ask questions, host contests, and giveaways, and create branded hashtags to prompt customers to share their pictures with your products (read: plan user-generated content).

Twitter Algorithm: How To Use Twitter For Your Business The Right Way In 2022

The Twitter algorithm has a lot of moving pieces involved. That is: it’s at work in several areas such as:

  • Latest tweets and home timeline

The former shows tweets based on the chronological order, and the latter shows tweets based on your interests and other ranking factors that we’ll discuss below.

  • Customizable timeline

Or the timeline you create by creating Twitter Lists. Within this custom timeline, you can see tweets in either chronological order or in a home timeline fashion.

  • Trends

These show up in several places, including the home timeline. Sometimes, the blue-bird network gives context around why something is trending. Other times, you’re left to guess why.

  • Topics

The Twitter algorithm recommends these based on what it thinks you like or interact with. You can always choose Topics to see more content from and tell Twitter the Topics you aren’t interested in. (Read up on humour as a Twitter engagement tactic)

  • Who to follow (suggested accounts)

These recommended accounts are based on promoted accounts, your Twitter activity, location, and your contacts if you’ve uploaded them on the network.

That said, Twitter doesn’t go deep into how its algorithm works. It only says the ranking engine shows content based on your interests, whom you engage with, and tweets you interact with.

Other than that, there’s not much detail that the Twitter team shares. What we do know, though, is that every time a user logs into the app, the Twitter algorithm creates a relevance score to show content based on the following signals:

    • How fresh are the tweets?
    • How relevant is the tweet to the user judging by the keywords it uses?
    • How many likes, retweets, and comments the tweet gets?
    • How many users engage with the tweeting account?
    • The account’s follower count and its location
    • The type of media included in the tweet (GIF, poll, graphic, etc.)

LinkedIn Algorithm: How To Use LinkedIn For Your Business The Right Way In 2022

The LinkedIn algorithm – like other social media algorithms – prioritizes the time users spend on the app. How so? By showing them posts that are relevant to their interests and those that they’re likely going to engage with.

As a means to this, the algorithm uses the following ranking signals to show content to its users:

  • Content relevance

LinkedIn studies its users’ behaviour, reading the posts, people, pages, and hashtags they interact with. In fact, whatever users do on the platform is used to determine their interests so as to serve them relevant content that interests them and gets them to spend more time on the app.

  • Connections

The LinkedIn algorithm looks at users’ varying degrees of Connections too. The professional network shows content to users based on how close the Connection is (first, second, or third-degree).

Of course, the larger your network on LinkedIn, the higher your content’s odds of showing to more people. Also, if a user interacts with a particular LinkedIn creator – no matter the Connection degree – they’re likely to see more content from them.

  • Engagement

On LinkedIn, comments carry more importance than reactions. Reactions, in turn, are more important than shares. That’s how the algorithm ranks content, too i.e., It spreads the content that gets more comments than content that attracts more reactions.

Another essential ranking factor here is the dwell time or the time users spend on your posts.

If they pause for only a bit or not at all, the LinkedIn algorithm considers the content is irrelevant to them. However, if they spend more time – also clicking the “see more” option to read the post – the algorithm rewards the post with more exposure.

How can brands use LinkedIn to maximize their ROI?

With that, here’s what you can do to get your content to rank better on LinkedIn:

  • Grow your network. Connect with people in your industry and interact with them. Instead of liking their posts, leave thoughtful comments on their content. This way, they’re likely to reciprocate the engagement – helping your content reach a wider audience beyond your immediate connections.
  • Leave meaningful comments. Sure leaving comments is a great way to get people to reciprocate by commenting on your posts.

But here’s more: long comments that encourage people to “see more” tend to get more engagement on the platform. This, in turn, tells the algorithm you have lots of value to share, so it pushes your content further.

  • Add 3-10 hashtags. As with Instagram, you are using hashtags on this platform also grows your visibility. However, the LinkedIn algorithm’s preference has grown from 3, which seemed to be the magic number of hashtags to add to your post with the LinkedIn 2019 algorithm update. Currently, it’s best to add between 3-10 hashtags to your posts. Any more than ten, however, are considered spam.
  • Tag people for more engagement. Also, it’s a good idea to tag people to prompt them to engage with your content. However, be sure to tag people who will engage than ones who might not respond or may remove the tag. The latter signals the algorithm that you’re spamming people. The result? It reduces your exposure.

Facebook Algorithm: How To Use Facebook For Your Business The Right Way In 2022

The Facebook algorithm 2021 gives us a bit of detail on how the platform ranks content. Before that, there’s little that we knew except that organic research was on a downward trajectory.

However, if your target audience is on Facebook, you need to know how the latest algorithm update ranks content. It’s essentially a 4-step process starting with the network taking all the posts available in a user’s network and scoring them according to predetermined ranking signals – we’ll talk about them in a bit.

Next, it filters for posts a user is unlikely to engage with based on their past behaviour. It also ranks content that’s likely spam or misinformation lower.

In the third step, the Facebook algorithm scores the remaining content for personalization. And, finally, it arranges the content in a nice balance of rich media so a user can enjoy a variety of post types.

With that, let’s look at which signals Facebook looks at for ranking posts:

  • Recency. Or how fresh that content is with newer posts shown first.
  • Content-type. This is which media type is present in a post and which media type a user tends to engage with most.
  • Relationship. How a user interacts with posts from an account – brand, friend, or a news publication source.
  • Popularity. This includes how much engagement a post gets. The more popular it is, the more it’s likely to get exposure on Facebook.

TikTok Algorithm: How To Use TikTok For Your Business The Right Way In 2022

Lastly, let’s look at how the recommendation engine over at TikTok works. Here’s a walk through the ranking signals the video platform looks at:

  • User interactions

This is how the TikTok algorithm determines users’ interests. It looks at everything from the accounts a user follows, the creators they search for and those they’ve hidden, comments they make, videos they favourite, videos they report as inappropriate, and videos they label as not interested, and videos’ watch time. It also looks at content a user creates on their own account.

  • Video information

This is information users specifically seek out in the Discover tab. It includes captions, hashtags, effects, trending topics, and sounds.

  • Device and account settings

These include location setting, the device a user is using, language preference, and the selected interests. Since these are one-time settings, though, the TikTok algorithm doesn’t look at these signals as much as the two above.

That said, the TikTok algorithm is against duplicate content, content users have already seen, and content that’s potentially spam.

How can brands use TikTok to maximize their ROI?

Here’s what to do:

  • Create content that’s sure to engage your niche audience: Keep in mind that the TikTok algorithm doesn’t rank content based on your follower count or past viral videos that have seen success on the platform.

This means if you’re relatively new on TikTok, audience-relevant, engaging content can help you go viral without having to first work on building a following.

  • Write compelling captions: And, make sure you add relevant keywords here too. The reason? Captions are a great way to tell your audience what your video is about. In doing so, they can increase your engagement and video completion rates.
  • Post when your target viewers are active: While this is important for all social networks, it’s particularly important here as active engagement with your video is a key ranking signal.

Bonus Tips For Optimizing Your Content For Each Social Media Algorithm

Before we wrap this up, here are two more tips for improving your engagement on social.

First, study your social analytics to optimize content

Look for when your audience is active on each social channel. Also, determine which topics and post types garner the most engagement.

Studying this is essential for not just better understanding your audience but also for reaching them better on social media.

You can always search for these critical metrics using each social platform’s in-build analytics. However, if you’re looking for in-depth analytics in one place, you’ll need to pick from social media analytics tools.

Our recommendation? ContentStudio. Using our multi-channel social analytics, you get a snapshot of your:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Audience growth
  • Top performing posts

You can also analyze likes, comments, content type, and more to highlight which content type is best resonating with your audience.

Study what your competitors are up to

You also need to choose from competitor analysis tools. The aim? To learn which type of content your competitors are posting, what’s working for them, what they’re possibly doing wrong, the hashtags they’re using, and more.

Again, ContentStudio can help you with its content analytics feature that shows you relevant data on what’s working for any competitor, domain, industry – even topic.

You can easily learn which content type is performing best and which social networks competitors and others in the industry are using. You can also identify your audience’s sentiment around a topic, which is an excellent way to refine your social media content plan.

Wrapping up

All these details on ranking signals and how each social network’s algorithms work point toward one key takeaway: you can’t game any social media algorithm.

What helps, however, is the following:

  • Knowing full well what interests your target audience – gets their attention and encourages them to engage (including the content formats they prefer to consume).
  • Posting highly valuable, entertaining, or educational content (depending on your social media content plan) when your audience is active.
  • Engaging with your audience by replying to their comments and messages quickly and prompting them to engage with your content. For instance, by asking them to share their thoughts, add an emoji or GIF reaction, or hosting polls.

In short, the more dedicated you’re to building a community and offering value to your niche audience on social, the more return on investment you’ll drive.

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