What is an algorithm and why do social media platforms use them? 

Social media is now a part of everyday life. But how do social media platforms operate? That is where social media algorithms come in. Here is a breakdown of what algorithms are and why social media platforms use them. 

What is a social media algorithm?

Algorithms are mathematical formulas that specify how groups of data behave. Algorithms maintain order and help to organize search results and advertisements. Algorithms provide users with posts and information that are based on relevancy instead of the time of posting. 

Before algorithms were common, social media posts were ranked in chronological order. This was a less effective means of communicating content because it didn’t take into account the preferences of the user. When you see a recommended Youtube video or Instagram post on your timeline this is thanks to the help of social media algorithms. Social media algorithms promote user-based platforms and thereby encourage users to post higher-quality content.

Why do social media platforms use algorithms?

Social media algorithms are primarily used to make social media platforms more enjoyable and easier to engage with. Social media platforms have an overabundance of content available and without algorithms, this content would be virtually unmanageable. In short, algorithms are great tools for curating high-quality content and for managing the oversaturation of posts. 

Are social media algorithms flawed?

While algorithms may appear to be an infallible tool they do have their quirks. These algorithms look for very specific content, meaning that if a post does not fit the algorithm’s parameters it could be weeded out. This means that if your post isn’t exactly what the algorithm is looking for you may not receive much engagement on it. 

There is also a flip side to this dilemma. There are often cases where content is chosen by the algorithm and subsequently boosted only for it to show up in places where it should be deemed irrelevant. You most likely have encountered this issue. Have you ever seen a video on your YouTube recommendation page that seems completely out of place? This is most likely due to a failure with the algorithm. 

How can you be recognized by social media algorithms?

If you want your content to garner engagement then you must study the algorithm. Often the content that is boosted will provide you with a firm idea of what the algorithm is looking for. Look into the posts on your timeline or your YouTube recommendation page for a better look into what the algorithm is looking for. 


It is clear that social media algorithms are here to stay but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be subject to change. Shortly we may see a new take on social media algorithms that are hopefully even more precise. 

For more information on social media and how best to build a social media strategy, please visit Power Move Marketing today!





Author: Lindsay Pelliccia