A lot of people misunderstand algorithms, and the role they play. Algorithms exist to do one thing, and that’s to give people the content they’re most likely to engage with to keep them on a platform. If you go to Instagram, Facebook or another platform and you don’t like the content, you’ll move onto something else on your phone or computer. If it happens too often, you’ll stop going to the platform all together.
The algorithm’s purpose is to make sure that this doesn’t happen. While a lot of people feel they’ve got to battle algorithms, it’s actually possible to try to use them to your advantage.
In order to do so, you need to understand how they work. While the formulas that algorithms follow are an absolute secret, my team and I believe most operate like this:
- Sees your content on the platform
- Serves your content to a small group of people
- If a high ratio interact, it serves it to more people
- If the ratio of interaction stays constant, your content may get pushed out past your own network to recommended content and explorer pages.
The reverse also holds true. If the algorithm serves your content to a small group of people and a low ratio interact, it’ll serve it to less. If this ratio stays constant, your content may not be shown in feeds any longer.
This shouldn’t intimidate you from posting, or discourage you if your content isn’t reaching large numbers of people. On the contrary, it demonstrates the importance of a good content strategy. If your content strategy hasn’t been paying off, you can always change it, work to make the ratios go up, and start reaching more people.
For this reason, my team and I feel like our content strategy is working. We’re seeing it reach large numbers of people and driving interaction. So, we’re focusing on the quality of the content instead of the quantity. This is the kind of insight algorithms can give you.
A lot of people believe that when their content isn’t reaching people, that the algorithm is to blame. But, oftentimes, it’s the content. If you’re not seeing the results you want with your content, revisit what you’re creating. Look at what has been working for you. Do more of what’s working, and see how it does. As you do, you’ll be able to remove the content that isn’t performing to further help put the algorithm to work.