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  • Marvin Wilkins

Social Media Algorithms 101

Posting a message on social media is easy. However, ensuring that the target audience receives the message can be more complicated due to social media algorithms.

Those who aren’t new to social media may remember a time when social media posts were seen in chronological order. Currently, the posts seen on a user's timeline is determined by relevance. Relevancy is determined by an algorithm that gathers data from a user’s interactions on the platform.

According to Webster, an algorithm is a process that determines the most common divisor based on measuring the outcome that involves repetition. For social media, that means platforms are tracking what you visit, like, watch, comment on and any other interactions that are recordable.

Some social media users may not like missing information from users they are subscribed to, but there are many benefits from platforms adopting the use of algorithms.

Social media algorithms are responsible for YouTube’s suggested video feature and the suggested friends feature on platforms. It's also responsible for the Explore Page feature of Instagram, which is a page filled with content that a user may like.

As social media continues to establish itself as part of our everyday life, it is important for public relations and mass media professionals to learn how these algorithms decide what posts our target audience sees. Communication is a two-way channel, so there must be sending and receiving.

This means that businesses that depend on user engagement have to start paying for advertising, creating quality content that encourages engagement, or both.

Alongside encouraging businesses and public relations professionals to improve the quality of their content or pay-to-play, algorithms are making it easy for organizations content to not get lost in the piles of content. Algorithms also make it easier to get content to individuals who will most likely engage with it.

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