The Age of Social Media Algorithms

Algorithms Aren’t Just for Google Anymore

Social Media AlgorithmWhen those of us in the search marketing industry hear the word “algorithm” it has historically been in reference to search giant, Google.

Google is constantly updating its content ranking algorithm and revising how the Search Engine Results Page is laid out to deliver the most relevant organic results and ads to searchers. With Google’s massive financial success, it comes as no surprise that Social Media channels are slowly adopting an algorithm-driven content presentation to further enhance user experience.

Facebook: a Pioneer of the Social Media Algorithm

The Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm

In 2009, Facebook launched “EdgeRank”, introducing algorithm driven content to the social network. EdgeRank made it so when Facebook users would log in they could choose News Feed (Most interacted with posts) or Live Feed (most recent posts), as opposed to the traditional chronological feed.

The EdgeRank algorithm ranked posts only by number of Likes, Comments, and how likely the user was to interact with the post. This became a massive step for Facebook and set an example for other Social Media channels for how to best show content to users.

Then in 2011, Facebook combined News and Live Feed for one streamlined display of content to create a customized newspaper for each user. This algorithm began factoring in much more criteria than before to create a customized page with the most interesting posts at the top upon login.

In 2013, the social network did away with the term EdgeRank completely and introduced nearly 1,000 more algorithmic factors to create a more customized user experience.

Facebook’s Modern Day Social Media Algorithm

Then in 2015, the algorithm is changed once again so your friend’s posts are shown higher than page content so you see more of what Facebook thinks is important to you.

In February 2016, Facebook changed once again, taking into account even more ranking factors. The update takes into consideration the likelihood that users will take action (ie; liking, sharing, or commenting), AND the likelihood that they will want to see it. A much more complicated social media algorithm that seemingly no one fully understands.

While You Were Away: Twitter’s New Algorithm

Twitter Social Media AlgorithmIn February 2016, Twitter began slowly rolling out its new algorithm content delivery to its users. The new algorithm changes the way timelines appear for users, showing users Tweets that Twitter’s algorithm deems most interesting for that individual user – instead of the reverse-chronological order that’s been around since the birth of Twitter in 2006.

Twitter unveiled this new formula in hopes that it can help content reach more users. As an example, now tweets that have more interaction and engagement will be pushed to the top to the “While You Were Away” section if you haven’t logged into your account for an extended amount of time.

You will only see the relevant content when you first log in, but then any subsequent log-ins mean your timeline will go back to the traditional reverse chronological stream.

This setting is a default, so you can opt-out instead of opt-in. So, if you don’t like how your new timeline looks, you can toggle the “Show me the best tweets first” button from Twitter’s Settings to go back to the old chronological presentation.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

New Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promises users that the new experience shouldn’t be that much different compared to what they’re used to, after the #RIPTwitter hashtag become popular in early February after reports that the change was coming.

The Instagram Algorithm is on the Way

Instagram has been using the same reverse-chronological feed since the app’s launch in 2010 but looks to be joining Facebook and Twitter’s lead into social algorithms that rank content by different factors. The photo sharing app made a statement on its blog about how much content users be could missing as a result of the reverse-chronological feed. We can expect to see different versions and constantly changing timelines while the company tests different algorithms to find one that best suits the Instagram experience.

Social Media Algorithms: It’s all about Content

Quality content has always reigned supreme, and more and more social media channels are implementing social algorithms to create a more personal and customized experience. All of these channels have one goal in mind: to get content to more users, and rank what’s most interesting for each user.

Has the age of social media algorithm’s impacted your business? We’d love to read your perspective in the comments section below!