Glossary > Algorithm


Algorithms are often scientific or mathematical equations. In recent years, software engineers, data scientists and content strategists have begun developing algorithms for search engines and social media platforms.

What is a social media algorithm?

A social media algorithm is a way of sorting through posts in a user feed.

Before social media networks began creating purposeful algorithms, most displayed content in reverse chronological order. The most recent posts appeared at the top of your feed. Some social channels still allow users to choose this option.

The idea of algorithms is to provide social media users with the content they’re most interested in seeing. If users see content that’s tailored to their preferences, they’re more likely to spend more time on a social channel, which is good news for the channel. Different social media platforms have their own ideas about the right way to engage users. For instance:

  • Facebook prioritizes posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions“. The content with the most engagement reaches the top of the news feed.
  • Twitter places “relevant” tweets at the top of your timeline based on your interaction history with the profiles you follow.
  • LinkedIn (as of 2018) places content at the top of the feed by looking at your browsing preferences and scanning your behavior with each visit.
  • Instagram uses three major metrics in its algorithm: Timeliness, Relationships and Interest. You’ll see content at the top of your feed that’s recent, relevant and from people you care about.

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