How Do Social Media Algorithms Work in 2024?

When it comes to modern marketing strategies, social media is essential. If you’re not using the right platforms, you’re missing out on leads, conversions, and significant growth for your business. But just being on the platforms isn’t enough. Once upon a time, these platforms used to show users a simple chronological feed of their friends’ posts. Not anymore — now social media algorithms rule what people see, when, and how often. As a marketer, to ensure your content reaches the right people on each platform, you need to understand how social media algorithms work and how you can make the most of them. 

Let’s walk through algorithms, how they work, and how to utilize them for your brand. 

What Are Social Media Algorithms?

Social algorithms exist to funnel certain kinds of content to specific audiences, encouraging people to spend more time on the platforms. They dictate the kinds of content a user can “discover” outside their own community.

On its own, an algorithm is a set of instructions used to process data inputs and solve a problem. In the case of social media, the issue at hand is how to connect users with engaging and relevant content. The algorithms social platforms develop and use differ from network to network, and they’re continuously being refined to create a more successful experience. 

How Do Social Media Algorithms Work?

All social algorithms use signals to indicate how much a user enjoys specific content. For example, if you comment, share, or like a piece of content, the algorithm will understand you enjoyed it and try to provide similar content. 

On the other hand, if you stop watching a video a few seconds in or you hide a post (or, heaven forbid, block one), the algorithm will interpret these as negative signals and begin showing you less of this content. 

Some platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, allow users to see why they’re seeing a certain piece of content. For example, it might say you’re seeing a post because you follow the poster, have liked their posts in the past, and engage with the account. 

Regardless, each platform has its distinct focus, target audience, and post requirements. Plus, viewers have certain expectations for each platform. So each network alters their algorithms in slightly different ways to meet these expectations.

Related: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

TikTok’s Algorithm

With billions of users around the world, TikTok is a social media powerhouse. Its algorithm is so honed, it seems to read users’ minds, driving significant engagement.

TikTok has a few different components, including the For You page. While it starts off with broadly popular posts, each user’s actions shape what they see on the feed. 

The TikTok algorithm also takes into account your geographic location, type of device, and language settings to make sure the content it shows is relevant and understandable to you. 

Related: TikTok Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

Instagram’s Algorithm

Originally a photo-only platform, Instagram has transformed into an incredible platform for video marketing. Instagram has various sections, including its main Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore page. 

The main Feed and Stories are made up of content from people you know, plus some ads and suggested content. To curate a user’s Feed and Stories, the Instagram algorithm may consider signals such as what time a post is shared, whether they’re looking at the platform on their phone or the web, and how often they engage with other videos. As the user spends more time on Instagram, the platform refines its suggestions. 

In another tab, the Explore page tries to match you with new content from users you don’t follow yet. 

Reels fall somewhere in the middle. While Instagram wants to show you the Reels shared by users’ friends and family, it also wants to promote additional content. When you open the Instagram Reels Feed, you’ll be able to continuously scroll through a variety of Reels. 

Related: Instagram Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

Facebook’s Algorithm

The Facebook algorithm uses a few key items to decide what content you should see, including who posted the content, what kind of content it is (that is, video or still image, depending on which you interact with more), and how many interactions the post has already received. 

The more interactions a post has on Facebook, the more the algorithm boosts its reach. So, if your post does well with a smaller group of people, it will be more widely distributed to users the algorithm thinks might enjoy it, too.

With billions of users around the world, Facebook is a great place for marketing teams to connect with current and potential customers in a casual, relatable way. 

Related: Facebook Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

YouTube’s Algorithm

Whether you’re learning to unclog a drain or looking for the latest music video, YouTube is the go-to video platform. 

The YouTube algorithm is a bit different than other social media networks. It’s evolved significantly over the years, especially since YouTube continues to become a main destination for popular live events, including sports. Its recommendation algorithm, which powers 70% of what people watch on the platform, will factor these events into the user experience and show them to a wider audience. User sentiment also has a far weaker impact on recommendations overall, which the company says is designed to prevent users from getting stuck in “echo chambers.”

Related: YouTube Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

LinkedIn’s Algorithm

With a focus on professional connections, the LinkedIn algorithm wants to provide you with relevant content from your colleagues and peers, industry leaders, and brands.

LinkedIn’s algorithm focuses on filtering out spam while matching you with videos and other high-quality content about your interests. Like other platforms, it takes your likes, comments, and general engagement into consideration when it comes to recommendations. 

Related: LinkedIn Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

Twitter’s Algorithm

The Twitter algorithm (or X algorithm, if you’d rather) has undergone quite a few changes in the last few years, including splitting the main page into two different feeds. Now, at the top of your home page, you’ll notice two tabs, Following and For You (yes, just like TikTok). 

Following is, as you might guess, a chronological feed of the accounts you follow, while For You is filled with recommendations, sponsored content, and more. Posts in the For You feed are ranked by relevance, so if you’ve engaged with a user before, their post is more likely to show up at the top of your feed. 

Additionally, you’ll find a section of trending content on the right side of the home page. Here, you’ll be able to see what’s trending on the platform, in your country, and in your state. These are often people, events, and hashtags. 

Related: Twitter Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

Pinterest’s Algorithm

Before Pinterest shows you the photo of a green sofa you searched for in your hunt for new living room furniture, it takes into account the user that uploaded it, the quality of the domain it’s sourced from, and how popular the pinned image has been so far.

Pinterest users are deemed more or less credible based on how often they interact with Pinterest and engage with posts. Of course, when picking search results, the Pinterest algorithm also takes into account whether the image itself matches the keywords used in the description. 

Related: Pinterest Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

10 Tips for Beating Social Media Algorithms

These algorithms ultimately exist to help users connect with one another, driving relevant content through signals. With the right social media video marketing strategies, you can break through the noise and find your target audience.

Tip #1: Use Relevant Captions, Keywords, and Hashtags

If you’re sharing vegan recipes but didn’t include this information in your caption, the algorithm will have a more difficult time showing your video production to excited vegan viewers. 

When you post content, you’ll want to include as much information as possible about your video without creating something that feels like spam to the algorithm. To ensure your post has the right information, include relevant captions, keywords, and hashtags. Do a little detective work beforehand and see which ones are trending, then use any relevant hashtags related to those trends.

Tip #2: Use Humor and Other Emotions

Emotions are powerful, especially when they’re effectively conveyed through video content. When you incorporate them into your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to create connections between your brand and positive emotions like delight and recognition. 

Plus, lots of social media users are there for entertainment, so funny videos often get shared more frequently than other types of content. The better your post performs, the more the algorithm will share it with a wider audience. 

Tip #3: Time Your Posts Thoughtfully

Many social media algorithms take the time you post your content into consideration. 

Instagram and other platforms rely on early popularity as a predictor of future popularity. Using the social platform’s marketing features (or other external tools), figure out what time your audience is most engaged on the platform and plan to post your content then. 

Tip #4: Optimize Your Content

It’s hard to know exactly what your audience will react best to, so you need to test your content and find out. No matter what kind of content you start with, you’ll need to explore what your audience really wants. Do they react better to animated videos or live action? If it’s the former, you’ll want to create more animated content to share with your audience. 

Tip #5: Be Concise

Video algorithms pay close attention to whether or not users are watching the entire video. Not every video has to be under 10 seconds, but don’t use more time than you actually need to tell your story. 

Tip #6: Keep Track of Trends 

Keeping track of and participating in current memes and trends can help draw viewers to your video content through recognizable sounds and visuals. Plus, since these elements are already popular, you might be able to catch a boost from the overall trend’s virality. 

Before you take part in the latest trend, make sure it actually aligns with your brand and audience. If you’re jumping on a trend just to be there, it might cause people to question your branding and overall social media presence. 

Tip #7: Natively Share Videos

Each platform has specific video marketing requirements, including file size and maximum length. If you’re producing a video for Pinterest, for example, you’ll want to make sure you create the video with the requirements in mind. Knowing the strengths of each platform and its users’ demographics will help you create content that feels inviting and right for each specific platform.

Tip #8: Engage With Your Audience

Every social media platform’s algorithm factors in engagement, so engagement is essential to your success on any platform. Think of ways you can engage your audience — including through polls or asking questions in your captions — to start a creative conversation with your users.

Tip #9: Keep Your Goals In Mind

Before you get started, you’ll need to decide why you’re creating video marketing content in the first place. Determine your campaign goals during the pre-production phase so you can keep them in mind throughout the entire process. 

Having a clear goal can help you see where your campaign is making strides — and how you can improve your next video marketing strategy

Tip #10: Create an Authentic Digital Presence

Social media thrives on authenticity. Users can and will sniff out phonies immediately, especially if your audience skews younger. So no matter how you build your social content strategy, your brand’s personality absolutely needs to shine through it all.

When you’re crafting your videos, ensure you’re staying true to your brand’s goals and values, promoting your products honestly, and only getting in on trends when it’s a good fit for your brand’s voice. Just because an idea has been successful for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll be a natural fit for you. Similarly, with how fast the internet moves these days, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to jump on every trend that pops up, so being selective can help you maintain that brand integrity, too.

Social Media Algorithms Prefer Video Content

Videos keep viewers engaged in ways photos and text simply can’t match. They increase engagement and time spent on the platform overall. With these benefits in mind, it’s no wonder social media platforms have made the shift to a video-first approach. 

Make Social Media Videos at Scale

Making social media videos that meet the stringent requirements of social media algorithms requires skill, tenacity, consistency, creativity, and quantity. 

At QuickFrame, we believe every business should have the opportunity to create effective video content. That’s why we created an end-to-end video production platform to connect businesses like yours with the world’s best video makers and production teams. From TikTok trends to YouTube videos, QuickFrame can help you create video content for every platform. 

Ready to get started? Contact us today

Social Media Algorithms: Final Thoughts

Nearly 60% of people in the world use social media, which means if you want to reach your audience, social media is essential. But you can’t effectively throw content into the digital world and hope the right people find it. 

With the right social media algorithm best practices, you can optimize your content, improve your overall marketing strategy, and grow your audience. 

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