How do social media algorithms work? Why do social networks need algorithms? Are the algorithms of social networks different? Does that mean Instagram and LinkedIn algorithms are different and work differently? Who cares and needs to know how social media algorithms work?

In this content, I answer the questions that were raised. I will start with the last question. Social media is a very powerful platform and tool for digital marketing. Social media marketing has become an integral part of digital marketing. For this reason, marketers and small business owners who market on social media need to know very well social networks, their audience, and also some technical issues that are effective in the functioning of social networks. So, the answer to the last question is: everyone does social media marketing.

In general, the discussion of social network algorithms is related to programming and network development. But they ultimately affect the user and what he sees on social media. As a result, digital marketers should also know about algorithms. Since social networks usually do not explain about their algorithms, algorithms are a mystery for marketers to solve.

What are social media algorithms?

In order to explain what social network algorithms are and how they work, I must first define the algorithm very briefly. In programming, the algorithm is defined as follows:

“In computer programming terms, an algorithm is a set of well-defined instructions to solve a particular problem.”

The algorithm has 3 parts. First, it is the data and information that is given to it (Input). Second, it is a set of steps or a process that must be followed step by step (Procedure) to solve the problem. The third is the final result (output) that is obtained from that process. For example, you can write an algorithm that, when given two numbers, adds them together and displays the result. Or you can write an algorithm that takes the user’s behavior (data), analyzes it, and displays specific posts to him as an output. So, algorithms are written to do a specific task. Algorithms are widely used in programming, website and application design, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“Social media algorithms are also a set of instructions. Creators and developers of social networks take help from algorithms to organize posts published on social networks based on user behavior.”

What do social network algorithms do?

If we look at the trends and statistics of social media marketing in the world, we will find that half of the world’s population are active users of social networks. A huge number of users means a huge amount of content that is published on social networks every moment. The contents produced in social networks are not only many but also very diverse.

So, how to organize this huge amount of diverse content? All users who are not interested in all topics, how should posts and content be displayed based on users’ interest in them? What about advertising content? For example, what is the use if a journalist who is interested in books and reading and follows world news on social media shows the content produced by a business to promote cosmetics and health products in his feed?

Brands and small and medium business owners use social media marketing to introduce themselves to potential customers. Businesses usually use the STP model in their marketing strategy. That is, they divide the market. They try to deliver their message (advertisements and content) to that part of the market (users) that has the greatest need and interest in the product or service of that business. So, it is very likely that when they get to know the products of that business, they will buy and become customers.

Social media algorithms prioritize the content of social networks for each user based on criteria. Of course, algorithms not only do not show irrelevant content to each user, but also do not show low-quality content to users.

“Social media algorithms improve the user experience of social networks. Because they try to show the high-quality and attractive content that the user likes and is looking for.”

Why do social media algorithms keep changing?

Social networks decided to use algorithms to help businesses and to satisfy all social media users who create accounts with different goals and motives. But the truth is that algorithms are not perfect and may make mistakes. Because social network users, their behaviors and needs are constantly changing. In addition, maybe a social network uses a new algorithm that works better and creates a better user experience for its users.

So, social networks must change and improve algorithms to meet the new needs of users and compete with each other. Marketers and content producers for social media must adjust their activities according to changes in algorithms. Because if the algorithms of social networks do not see your content or do not recognize it as high quality for users, the user will not see it or few users will see it. Just as the audience of SEO content on the site is the user and search engine robots, the audience of social media content is algorithms and users.

How do social media algorithms work?

Each social media has its own algorithms. Because social networks are different from each other and each has different functions and as a result different users. Digital marketer and social media marketer should know the algorithms of each social media separately. Not all businesses typically market on all social networks. Therefore, the marketer should be well acquainted with the algorithms of the social networks in which the business has decided to operate.

In this article, we examine the algorithms of two social networks, Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram algorithm

In one day, almost 28 million photos are uploaded on Instagram. So, how does the Instagram algorithm show the most relevant and interesting photos to each user among these 28 million photos? This question can be asked in a different way: based on which criteria does the Instagram algorithm select the posts, both in the Feed of each user (posts of those the user has followed + suggested and promotional posts) and in the Explorer (where the user can search among other people’s posts) slow), categorize and prioritize?

Before 2021, categories were done chronologically, that is, from the most recent posts. But the update algorithm and 4 other criteria were added to the algorithm in the behavior of each user and the way he interacts with the posts:

  • Interest: What kind of posts does the user like or comment on? In fact, with which user accounts and what types of posts does the user interact the most? Liking, commenting, saving posts, and sharing posts indicate a user’s interest in a particular topic or account.
  • Relationship with a user: What is the relationship between the user and the publisher of the post? Did they follow each other? Are they constantly interacting with each other on Instagram?
  • Following: Which user accounts has the user followed in which areas? Do the posts belong to people he followed?
  • User Session Time: How much time does the user spend on Instagram? More or less? Which accounts does it interact with at that time?

The Instagram algorithm takes the user’s behavior (data), analyzes it, and outputs the posts he makes when he opens Instagram; Sees in order. That is, the user’s feed starts with the most recent posts of the user accounts with which he interacts the most. Suggested posts are selected based on each user’s interest and behavior with similar posts.

Pinterest Algorithm

Pinterest is a completely different social network. Pinterest marketing is suitable for businesses that can produce engaging visual content. The Pinterest algorithm pays more attention to user interest and interaction than any other criteria. In addition to the photos and images that the user pins and shows his interest and attention to them, the Pinterest algorithm also considers 3 other criteria:

  • Quality of a Pin: The high quality of the generated content is a decisive criterion for all algorithms.
  • Domain Quality: In Pinterest, when a business wants to upload an image, it can also add a link to it. It’s this possibility that makes Pinterest so important to businesses. But the Pinterest algorithm looks at that link and domain and evaluates it. Pinterest does not want to direct its user to a site with low credibility.
  • Quality of the Pinner: Who is the content producer? Who does the account belong to? What does he do and what activities does he have in Pin Trust?

So, when you open Pinterest, you will be shown the most relevant content with your previous pins, with the highest quality and credibility. Plus, Pinterest suggests ideas and Pins it thinks you’ll find interesting.


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