Social Media Algorithms: Luck, or Science?

A social media “algorithm” refers, essentially, to the complex factors that drive how social media platforms choose to prioritize content. In the broadest sense, what gets pushed to the top of a user’s social media feed will depend on:

  • The interests of that user,
  • The interests of the platform,
  • And how well different pieces of content align with those two interests.

Different platforms will have various rules and guidelines that drive what gets prioritized. And these algorithms are different for every platform, depending on the type of content they’re more interested in promoting.

Although the “algorithms” of the various social media platforms can seem random, they are actually highly complex data sets that determine what content gets prioritized over others on the feed (or dashboards) of different platforms. It can be easy to just post randomly and leave it to luck.

However, while they probably are a bit too complex to cover completely in-depth within one newsletter, it’s completely possible to learn some simple tricks that will let your content stay visible on different social media sites.

Here are some quick tricks to game the algorithms of the different platforms!


Instagram is still a popular platform, particularly for photos and images. In general, it’s rare for text-only to do well here, but what other guidelines can we find to maximize reach on its algorithm?

  1. Reels are one of the newer features on Instagram, so the platform currently pushes them. If you don’t make many reels, then start experimenting with them! (As an extra tip– shoot reels in vertical, and play with the filters, effects, or trending music.)
  2. Use hashtags! Because Instagram is so visual, the algorithm relies on hashtags to filter content. Be sure to do a little research into your field and see what hashtags are popular, and then use those hashtags to help your audience find your content.


TikTok is one of the newer platforms. This means its popularity can work to your advantage if your content is discovered, but it also means it’s easy to get lost in the noise of a dense algorithm! Short-form video is what thrives here.

  1. Grab attention FAST. When you create a video, TikTok’s algorithm measures engagement according to how many people watch it all the way through. Studies show that the first 3 seconds are key for capturing attention– or else your audience will scroll to the next video– so be sure to get straight to the point!
  2. TikTok relies heavily on Trends. These are the soundbites, memes, or other topics that are currently getting a lot of engagement. If you can key into the trends and work them into your content naturally, the algorithm will push that content forward. Of course, trends change every week, so be sure to keep on top of them and do your research on what’s current! Here’s a link to a source that updates weekly.


LinkedIn is a wonderful platform to build a professional brand presence. Stephanie wrote a great article in last month’s newsletter  on the type of LinkedIn content that goes “viral,” but how else can you get your content prioritized by the algorithm?

  1. Leave outbound links to the comments section. LinkedIn’s algorithm wants to keep people on their website, so posts that lead somewhere else tend to get prioritized less by the algorithm. An easy work-around is to put any outbound links in the comments of your post!
  2. LinkedIn’s algorithm rewards engagement. Some easy ways to get that engagement are to ask questions– particularly through polls! Take advantage, ask some fun and engaging questions, and see how the content performs.


While less in-vogue than other platforms, Facebook can certainly still be leveraged to get your content seen and build your personal brand.

  1. Focus on statuses and photos. Analysis has shown that these two types of posts get the highest engagement rates of any types of Facebook content. By comparison, links and videos performed significantly lower when it comes to Facebook.
  2. Facebook is one platform where timing is everything. Overall, you want to try to time your posts to go up when your audience is online. That can vary from person to person (and time zone to time zone) but on average, analysis has given us two rules for the algorithm:
    1. Earlier is better. The best time to post on most days is somewhere between 6am and 4pm. The worst time is after 9pm.
    2. The best overall time to post on Facebook is between 8am and 12pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Keep in mind that these algorithms do often change, so you can’t rely on them to do all the work for you. Of course, the real key to getting engagement on all of these platforms is to CRAFT ENGAGING CONTENT. At 4C, we recognized long ago that people engage with sincerity, true stories, and consistency. You definitely want to use the algorithms of the different platforms to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible, but remember that people connect with people more than trends. Be sure that the content you’re putting out there is true to you and your values, and you might be surprised at the rewards you see.

Happy posting!

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