April 25, 2024
Min Read

Social Media Algorithms: How They Work and How to Beat Them

Understanding social media algorithms is the key to outsmarting them. Here’s how to get your content seen.

Two hands using a laptop with a net around that connects to the popular social media logos

Taking advantage of social media algorithms can be the key to getting you the visibility you’re looking for. 

Social media algorithms try their best to match an audience with relevant and personalized content that fits their interests. But as the algorithms increase in complexity, it can feel challenging to get your content to find the right audience and hit those high view counts. Read on to discover how to use various social media algorithms to your benefit.

What’s a Social Media Algorithm?

Social media algorithms are rules a platform uses to decide what pops up on someone’s feed. They function as a recommendation system, curating a mix of content they predict the user will find interesting and engaging to personalize the experience as much as possible. This personalization increases the odds that users enjoy the content they see and spend more time scrolling. 

Most of these algorithms use a highly advanced technology called machine learning to accomplish this. With machine learning, algorithms “learn” about user behavior from vast amounts of data, which users agree to share when accepting a platform’s privacy policy or website cookies. 

As they collect data, the algorithms better understand user preferences, making more accurate predictions about what people will enjoy — which is why they often feel eerily intuitive. 

How Do Social Media Algorithms Work?

If you want to outsmart the algorithms in social media, you have to learn what content they’re looking for. Every platform has its quirks, and few share the specifics of how their algorithms actually work, but here’s what they seem to prioritize:


Getting your content to show up in Facebook’s News Feed or Instagram’s Explore page is likelier when your existing viewers and followers engage with it. A healthy number of likes, comments, shares, saves, and views signals to the algorithm that your content is good enough to spark interaction.


If a viewer spends all their time watching makeup tutorials, the algorithm probably won’t suggest videos about metaphysics or cryptocurrency. Using keywords and hashtags in your video description tells the algorithm about your content’s topic and its relevant audience.

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Content grows stale quickly on social media. Fresh posts tend to get priority with the algorithms, especially on fast-moving platforms like Instagram and TikTok.


If someone regularly engages with a creator’s posts — by commenting, liking, or sharing — the algorithm recognizes a preference for that content. The algorithm will put that creator’s new posts at the top of the users’ feed for higher visibility and more potential engagement. 

Content Type

Algorithms tend to favor certain types of content over others. Most platforms prioritize video, especially short, snappy clips or videos using trending audio. As a content creator, stay on top of trends on platforms and in your niche to create content your audience wants to watch. 

Two hands holding a phone from which engagement icons appear, surrounded by a neural network

What’s Best for the Algorithms by Platform

While engagement, relevance, recency, relationships, and content type factor into every social media algorithm, they’re all a little different. Here’s the type of content that seems to get an algorithm’s attention on each major platform.


Trends suggest that Instagram’s algorithm favors conversation starters and eye-catching visuals. Do this by posting Reels that get people talking in the comments, which helps your content rise to the top.


Want the TikTok algorithm to put your content on millions of users’ For You Pages? Record videos that are entertaining and make people watch until the end. TikToks that use trending sounds tend to get more views, and if you get enough rewatches, your TikToks have a solid chance of going viral.


Personalization powers every viewer’s YouTube Homepage, and it’s largely based on what viewers search for. If you want more YouTube views from people who have yet to subscribe to your page, put as much thought into a video’s keywords as you do into the content itself.

X (Formerly Twitter) 

While X (formerly Twitter) heavily favors content like hot-off-the-presses news stories and celebrity scandals, your posts (formerly Tweets) don’t have to be about current events if you hashtag strategically and get a conversation going.


Meaningful connections are the secret to standing out on the Facebook algorithm. Setting your Facebook posts to public or to “Friends of friends” lets more people see your content when your connections interact with it. When those friends of friends engage, it appears in their friends’ feeds, and so on.


Sharing thought-provoking industry news, starting discussions within your network, and actively participating in conversations shows LinkedIn you’re engaged. The algorithm will more likely suggest your content to professionals outside your network.


Pinterest is all about ideas, inspiration, how-tos, and buying guides, but you’ll need to use strong keywords to get your content in people’s home feeds. Your Pins also need an eye-catching cover photo to capture users’ attention when your Pin shows up.

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8 Tips for Winning Over the Algorithms

Ready for your moment in the spotlight? Here’s how to make the algorithms love you on any platform.

1. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Make every post something you're proud of — something that offers real value to your audience. If you don’t have ideas that will genuinely entertain them, consider changing your posting schedule for fewer, better videos. Use tools like Captions to improve your videos and create top-notch content 10x faster to show off your talent or share wisdom in your field.

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2. Remember the “Social” in “Social Media”

Don’t expect people to engage with your content if all you do is publish a post and log off. Comment, reply, like, and share content that resonates with you — if you want the community to love you, you have to love them back. Responding to comments also shows the algorithm that you’re an active creator who interacts with their audience, which can increase engagement.

3. Think Like a Digital Marketer

Just like a digital marketer, you’re using social media to share information about a brand — your brand. Identify your niche, and do research by watching similar content or creators to better understand your audience. Knowing what you’re selling, whether that’s a product or a lifestyle, and who you’re selling it to helps you plan content and hashtags to engage the right people. The algorithms will take it from there.

4. Schedule Your Content

The best time and day to post varies based on factors like platform, demographics, and location. Stay on top of your analytics to learn when your audience engages with your content. Prepare posts in advance, but schedule them to go live during the times your followers are most likely to be active. 

If you’re just starting out, try to post at different times until you gain enough views to learn about your audience’s preferences. Search for the best times to post on each platform, but also experiment with random times. You might find that videos posted in the evening perform well long before the platform’s analytics can prove it. 

5. Mix Things Up

Videos may be popular, but that doesn’t mean your audience won’t appreciate a well-composed photo now and then. Mixing up your content keeps things interesting and leaves followers wondering what you’ll do next.

6. Try All the Latest Tools

New features are always popping up across social media, but they’ll get eclipsed by others down the road. Platforms tend to boost the content that uses their latest features to see how audiences will react, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new or untested tools.

7. Analyze and Adapt

You don’t need your followers to tell you what they like — that’s what data is for. Keep tabs on your posts to see which ones perform well and which don’t get much attention. Then, use that information to plan the content you’ll put out next.

8. Reach Audiences Beyond Your Platforms

Posting quality content tagged with high-value keywords doesn’t just improve your algorithm-driven visibility. It also helps new followers find your content when they type those keywords into a search engine. This happens thanks to search engine optimization (SEO), the practice of making your content easy for users to discover and share with people researching related topics. 

Crush the Competition With Captions

Learning the ins and outs of social media algorithms is one thing. Creating the type of content that will win them over is another. Captions’ user-friendly tools generate attention-grabbing captions and make it easy to edit videos like a pro so you can focus on your favorite part of the job — creating content your audience loves.

April 25, 2024
Min Read
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