We’ve all heard of the term ‘algorithm’. What is it? Does it actually control the social media arena as much as they say it does? Even though it may sound technical but it really isn’t much difficult to understand. An algorithm generally means a structured format or a calculative method of problem-solving. The concept was always highly used by technicians and mathematicians until social media arrived. In terms of social media, Algorithm is a definite way or a predictable outcome of a certain action that the platform will have. This in other terms also means every action on social media has a predicted outcome.
Ever wondered how social media functions? Who is to be held responsible for the notifications we get when someone likes or comments on our picture? How does Facebook suggest friends that you may know? How does Instagram show you related posts of friends much before any other posts from a page? Well, that is the platform’s algorithm doing its job. All that happens on social media functions as per the set algorithm of the platform. Like John Romero said, “Programmers have created a logic-based creative output called algorithm” and that is exactly what the algorithm is, a creative yet structured programme for anticipated outcomes of the social platforms.
There is a lot that an algorithm can do. It holds the power to make and break brands based on how they make Strategical use of it. Major parts of the masses that use social media do not realize how much algorithms control their life. Based on considered results, social media is used by brands and individuals. Without an estimated outcome, no action on the social media platform would be certain. So now when you comment on someone’s post, you know that the person will be notified and when he replies back or talks about you, you get to know too.
Wonder how the algorithm works for every popular social platform? Here are some insights based on platforms:
Facebook out of all is the biggest example of a platform that uses algorithms to great effect. As per Facebook, they wish to make sure that people receive the content they actually are interested in.
However, Facebook alters its algorithms all the time. This makes it a constant race between marketers. Currently the factors that influence the Facebook algorithm are:
1. How often do you interact with that type of content?
2. How often have you and everyone else hidden that piece of content?
3. The level of engagement that the piece of content has received.
In short, the algorithms for Facebook works mainly on relevance and therefore marketers need to focus not on views and reach but engagement. The same goes for paid ads. The lower your relevance is, the higher it’s going to cost you.
Instagram is the latest social media platform that has decided that its feed will run on an algorithm-base. Although the company is now owned by Facebook, the functionality and purpose of audience use still differ. In a blog, Instagram announced that since the user base has grown, it was getting hard to keep up with the posts from their favorite followers. That is why they decided to showcase relevant content on your newsfeed.
Instead of hiding posts unlike Facebook, businesses won’t face the heat much because all the posts will still be visible. However, they will be followed by the relevant posts for preferred content consumption.
How do businesses get affected by this?
It’s pretty much clear that businesses now have to understand that engagement is the most important factor. With organic reach crippled, the trend is pretty much readable that more paid ads will be preferred for favorable results. If you want guaranteed reach to surface on the feed of your target audience, you are going to have to pay to do it or make relatable and preferred content.
This in simple terms also means that businesses can now use their data and marketing expertise to reach a targeted audience, rather than reaching out to the masses in general.
The paid ads trend is already increasingly being seen in the world of social media. With time, we can now expect other social media networks to adopt the same algorithm. With technology advancing, algorithm-based feeds will become more popular and soon will be the only metric that will matter.
How is your business going to react to these changes enforced by the major social media giants today? Will you follow it or will you run against the stream? Donald Kruth has wisely said, “An algorithm must be seen to believe.”