How Social Media Algorithms Work For Brands

facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn icons with words "timing, quality content, follow thru, and awareness"Millions of conversations build on social media every minute. Some involve your brand or business, and others do not. Some are wonderful, and some are negative. To be a part of these conversations, brand marketers and content creators need to understand how each social media platform works individually, but also how the social media ecosystem exists as a whole. This will allow you to truly think strategically about how to create and distribute content that will ultimately result in helping your brand.

To get started, we’re offering you some insights into how three of the major platforms’ algorithms work. It’s at least a foothold in understanding how you should be engaging on them.

Let’s deal with generalities first. In general, social media platforms are going to try to deliver authentic and personal interactions first. For example, let’s say a political page posts a link to a website and gets tons of reactions from the public, a restaurant adds a photo of a new breakfast dish, and your friend posts details about an event you’re invited to. In the earlier days of social media, the algorithms would say that since the political post gets the most reactions, you should see that first because of its raw popularity. Nowadays, however, social media algorithms would prioritize the post from your friend who you 1) know in real life and 2) is not sending you to an external web page.

From this, we can understand that producing content is good and necessary, but forging authentic connections with others is pivotal.

What are some additional algorithm similarities?

  •  Frequent activity is rewarded. While not every platform has the same frequency threshold (consider Twitter versus Facebook, for example), regular activity demonstrates your brand’s commitment to the platform and your audience.
  • Native content creation is rewarded. Creating content that keeps people within the platform benefits the platform, so naturally that behavior would be rewarded. Posting too frequently to outside websites will cause your posts to be seen less often as it takes people out of the social media platform.
  • Content from detailed, credible profiles and pages is rewarded. Social media platforms want to encourage active communities and connections, so it will allow pages with full profiles and consistent activity to be shown more often than others.


In 2019 Facebook doubled down on its commitment to prioritize meaningful interactions among its members. If you’re thinking that’s a lot to ask of a social media bot, you’d be right. The algorithm had to quantify “meaningful interactions” as including some of the following:

  • Comments, likes, or interactions
  • Time spent with the content
  • Links shared over Facebook or via Messenger
  • Multiple replies by friends
  • How informative the post is

And so on. For a piece of content to appear on your timeline, Facebook’s algorithm has evaluated the following:

  • When the content was posted
  • The device used for the post
  • The strength of the poster’s connection with you
  • How relevant the “meaningful interactions” would be to you
  • How often you’ve engaged with similar content in the past
  • How likely (according to Facebook) you are to engage with similar content in the future

This determines how relevant the post is to you, and the likelihood that you will see it. The highest-ranking content will be delivered to you first.

Of course, there are other notable factors, such as the following:

  • Content that gets long comments rank better than short or no comments
  • Clickbait and explicit self-promotion are demoted
  • Links shared over Messenger are prioritized

What this means for your brand:

Facebook is becoming an increasingly “pay to play” format. However, when a person likes and follows a page, they are effectively telling the algorithm they would like to see content from that page. This gives your brand a leg up in Facebook algorithm’s understanding of relevancy. However, your brand still needs to follow the “rules” of producing consistent, relevant, and interesting content in order to guarantee your audience gets the opportunity to see your content. The best content will help build communities and deliver helpful information or entertaining content people want to share.

In some cases, it might be a struggle to come up with interesting content to drive meaningful interactions. Your brand might also face a challenge in attracting new users to like and follow your page. In these instances, it might be helpful to engage an outside resource familiar with the kinds of content that play well on Facebook, or those who know how to use advertising to attract new audiences. We often work with clients who want to expand their reach on Facebook through new content ideas and Facebook-friendly ads. (You can check out some social media services here.)


While Twitter is most famous for its content character cap, understanding the algorithm means appreciating a sense of urgency and frequency. Twitter prioritizes what is happening in the moment, giving primary content visibility to those with credibility and post recency. This doesn’t mean you can only post breaking news. Twitter is looking for authentic content that connects people with real lives and the content they share.

Twitter’s algorithm chiefly considers the following: the strength of your connection with your followers, the tweet itself (recency, content type, engagement), and your followers (how often they use Twitter, the content they prefer, etc.)

Based on these factors, Twitter will present the content according to what it thinks each user wants. However, posts with more relevance and recency will likely be prioritized.

What this means for your brand:

Lurkers are not appreciated. The more connection and interaction you have with your followers, the more likely it will be that your post will be viewed. Respond when people mention you, post tweets that aren’t just self-promotion, use and contribute to #hashtag conversations, and post the types of content your followers respond to. Twitter wants you to build a network that fits your expertise and interest, so post consistently about things that are important to your brand and your brand’s audience. Additionally, make sure your profile is complete and your page has frequent posts for viewers to read. Twitter considers time spent viewing your page and profile when determining if a particular user would want to see your content.


LinkedIn’s algorithm immediately sets itself apart by having four stages, one of which involves actual human beings. The key to the algorithm is to leverage first- and second-degree connections to encourage interaction with your brand’s content, and reach third degree connections. (If you don’t know what these terms mean, please see LinkedIn’s help page for definitions.) But to do this, your content has to pass muster.

Stage 1: Spam Detection

After you post your content to your company (or individual profile) page, LinkedIn’s automated system determines if that content has quality or is likely to be spam.

Stage 2: Engagement Assessment

Your content will be shown to a small segment of your network as a means to evaluate real reactions to what you’ve posted. If people mark it as spam or hide the content, the algorithm will likely classify it as low quality. If your network engages with the content through clicks or reactions, the algorithm recognizes the content might be worth sharing to more of your network.

Stage 3: General Content Filtering

This stage might feel the most familiar as it involves the algorithm checking the quality of the poster (you), and your network. It will also assess the relevance of your post to your network. If the post looks like it has good content quality that fits the network you have built, your post passes to the final stage.

Stage 4: Human Editors

At this point, human editors evaluate your content. If they believe the content is good, your post might be viewable for a longer period of time in people’s feeds, or it might appear higher in a feed.

It is important to note that unless your content is flagged as inappropriate or frequently marked as spam, your post may still show for a short time. It will not have the reach or extended visibility of high-quality content.

What this means for your brand:

Posts coming from your company’s page should have the power to bring individuals interested in your brand or industry together with your business. To help your content to make it through all four stages, focus on creating content that is compelling and interesting to your business partners and potential clients. Content that scores well on LinkedIn is often helpful to someone’s career trajectory or career tasks. Inspirational content does well, especially if it relates to your industry. Keep your content relevant to your business, and what impacts your employees, your company, and your audience’s world. Make sure you mix up the topics as well as the types of content you share.


Successful brands on social media have a clear, repeatable process that can be effectively managed.

If reading about these social platforms’ demands makes you feel overwhelmed, it’s because in reality, social media marketing demands more than posting a few times and hoping for the best. It’s a marriage of good quality content, timing, awareness and follow through. If you’d like to up your game in the world of social media marketing, we’d like to help. Give us a call, or use this form to get started.