22 Mar Social Media 101: Algorithms Explained
We all have algorithms in our every day lives. For example, the taxi algorithm:
Step 1: Go to the taxi stand
Step 2: Get in the taxi
Step 3: Give the taxi driver the address of your destination
However, in this post, we are talking more specifically about a sophisticated algorithm that determines what you see on Facebook, Google, & other online platforms. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down to layman’s term.
To understand the algorithm, we must first understand why it exists in the first place. Let’s use Facebook as an example. When Facebook first introduced it’s News Feed, users can see everything from their network in a chronological order. A few years later, Facebook introduced an algorithm that determined the “most interesting posts” for each user and presented those on the top of the News Feed. Today, Facebook’s algorithm is one that is very complex – it accounts for people you interaction most with, time spent on posts, predicted likability of a post, and much more.
So why would Facebook go through such trouble to figure out what you want to see? Simple: it’s survival as a company is dependent on your attention spent on it.
Let that thought sink it for a moment
Facebook needs to constantly audit itself to make sure that you are seeing things that intrigues you – this means posts that make you smile, make you angry, make you comment & share. Your attention is required if Facebook wants to sell effective ads.
Twitter and Instagram are now going through similar processes. Just last week, Instagram announced that it will incorporate an algorithm.
“You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.” – Instagram Press Release
Twitter, a platform known to have a a content overload problem, is hinting at some version of its own algorithm. Read their press release here
What does this mean to you?
As users, we’ll inevitably get the content that we enjoy the most. We also get ads that are relevant to our interests and desires.
As businesses, this means that marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will cost more. An algorithm will force marketers to work harder for real Social Media return on investment (ROI).