Written by: Courtney Brown, Account Executive
Algorithms are defined as a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor. Translated into English, and for the purpose of understanding their role in social media, algorithms are:
The set of rules or circumstances that define usage in a social platform. The patterns we can identify that help our brand’s existence on social media platforms.
Why are social media algorithms so important for marketers to understand?
Simply put, not understanding an algorithm is like opening your car door, getting into the driver’s seat and wondering why the car isn’t moving yet. To drive, you must have basic knowledge of how and why a car functions in order to get the result you desire (the ability to move it). Putting the key in the ignition and turning it, will spark the engine and allow you to drive your car.
Similarly, setting up a profile on Facebook or Twitter without understanding the basic algorithms will get you nowhere (and no followers). While Facebook and Twitter both keep their algorithms private, we do know a few things about how each one works.
Facebook = EdgeRank
EdgeRank defines which stories appear in a users newsfeed. There are three ways to measure EdgeRank:
- Affinity Score – how connected your brand and/or message is to the user. For example, my brother and I are frequently writing on each others Facebook Walls and we have 123 mutual friends so my Affinity Score with my brother is very high. Affinity scores are one-way; I have a different affinity score to my brother than my brother does to me.
- Edge Weight – how valuable the action is, a comment has more edge weight to a post than a like does, same goes with a share.
- Time Decay – how old the story is, the older it is the lower the EdgeRank.
Every time a user logs into Facebook, they see the stories with the highest EdgeRank in their newsfeed.
As a marketer, what can we do increase EdgeRank?
- Encourage users to write on your wall and visit your page frequently. Give them reasons to do so. Ultimately, we want people to read and view our posts, because that is where we share the relevant content about our brand, but the only way they will continue to see our posts are if they view our wall.
- Encourage sharing and commenting on posts. Tip; don’t focus on likes because it doesn’t help your Affinity Score as much as sharing and commenting does.
- Keep a regular schedule of posts. Your audience is not always on Facebook at the same time as you. By keeping a regular schedule, you are giving them multiple opportunities to interact with your brand.
Twitter = Trends
The algorithm that defines what is “trending”on Twitter. It identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for an extended period of time (one day is an extended period of time on Twitter). Trending topics are found on the home, discover and search pages of the site. The foundation for trending is based on two simple factors:
- Location – topics are localized to other users (individuals or brands) in their geographic region, based on 150 worldwide locations Twitter has defined.
- Followers – how many times the people they are following have interacted with the message.
As a marketer, what can we do to create trending topics?
- Posts should require action. Reading an article or clicking on a link are considered interactions with a post. The more people I follow or follow me that take action with a post, the more likely that it will become a trending topic for me.
- Encourage retweets. A user retweeting your post is like a personal endorsement of your brand. Not only will all of their followers (some of whom may not be a follower of your brand) see your post, it is a strong action. Again, the more people take action with your brand the more likely it is to trend. Developing campaigns to encourage retweeting will drive action.
Each platform is different, but understanding the basic social media algorithms will go a long way in developing your online brand and attracting the right audience.
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