Understanding Social Media Algorithms

social media

Ever wondered how your favourite pages always end up at the top of the newsfeed, and other businesses somehow slide down out of vision? It’s all got to do with maximising your posts in the social media feed as organically as possible and understanding the algorithm to get it to the top.

Social media can be a pretty complicated and sometimes a very foreign concept for many SMEs, especially when trying to gather momentum and grow their audience. There are a lot of fundamentals that need to be utilised by different social platforms and each have varying algorithms or ‘rules’ they use to prioritise some posts over others. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all have different ways of assessing your posts’ value, meaning it differs how they rank your content in the news feed of your audiences.

To get you started, we can lay down some basics that apply to all the major social platforms. As such, these rules should be kept in mind no matter where you’re posting in order to encourage reach, engagement and conversions.

The Basics


Make it interesting – if it’s not interesting or relatable to your target demographic, then don’t post it. Your readership will not engage with your posts if your audience can’t connect with you or your content. Keep it on-brand and interesting to your customers to maximise their engagement.

Make it relevant – if you’re selling shoes, don’t post about your weekend or current affairs you’re interested in. Keep it relevant to your brand, its aesthetic, its unique offerings. This ensures the right people – prospective customers – are following you and being kept up-to-date with the company. The trap some companies fall into is posting non-relevant, uninteresting material and actually repelling customers and clients.

Make it regular – a great tip to maximise your reach and bring your posts to the top of the newsfeed is to promote regular engagement. One of the best ways to promote this is to post regularly and consistently onto your newsfeed to appeal to your audience. Set time aside each week to plan your social posts if you need to – just whatever you decide to do, be consistent.

Make it timely – it’s probably not a good idea to post at 3am on a Monday. Your audience is less likely to see it, damaging engagement, leaving you to rank poorly on customers’ newsfeeds. Depending on your audience, the best times to post are generally before and after business hours – around 8am and at about 6:30pm. Of course, this all depends on who your customer is, and proper research should be done to find out the best times your target audience is engaging on social. If in doubt, test a few posts and see what works for you and your business.

Make it newsworthy – there are a variety of ways to be newsworthy, but keeping on top of industry news, current affairs and ensuring you’re also relevant and timely will ensure people engage with your brand – and possibly also engage with you first.

On top of these fundamentals, each social platform has an algorithm that pushes more popular and relevant content to the user to the top of their newsfeed, making it more likely they’ll read, engage or simply be noticed.

Here are our top tips for the most popular social platforms to better reach your target demographic, along with further details on each platform’s algorithm.



→ This platform is meant to be visually appealing. Be creative and engage users through image and video. The great thing about instagram, is there is no limits to how creative you can be. Of course, you want to be on brand, but instagram allows you to be entertaining through a businesses imagination as this is a important if you want to engage with your target demographic.

→ The algorithm of instagram has recently changed in the past year, going from recent to suggested in a controversial and largely unpopular move for the platform. This means that people that you recently follow, like and comment will more frequently appear in your newsfeed. This can make it difficult for businesses to grow on this platform.

→ Top tip – use hashtags to increase reach and appear in the search function of instagram more frequently to a wider audience.



→ Facebook’s algorithm can be organised into two different assortments. One is according to recent and the other is by suggested. By default, facebook automates this to ‘suggested posts’ in order to customise your news feed and make it as relevant as possible to an array of factors such as liked, commented and shared posts, as well as variables like engagement, relevance and clicks. If sorted by ‘recent activity’, facebook will bring the most recent activity in the news feed to your attention, meaning that you’ll get a wider assortment of videos, photos and statuses. Although, users need to customise their newsfeed to get to this stage, it is the area that your company is more likely to appear in unless you are paying to push yours status up the news feed or your content is organically receiving clicks, likes and comments. The best way to receive engagement organically is use the tips we mentioned above.

→ One of the best ways to encourage engagement with your users is to use video. Currently, 80-90% of news feeds are populated by videos, the rest is mainly memes, friends photos and a very rare status. There is an easy experiment to prove this and that’s to login into facebook and scroll through and take note of the type of content that is being displayed. Video is not only the most popular, but also the most effective in encouraging engagement as it is relatively low in effort and easily digestible for the user.



→ Twitter’s algorithm is good for businesses entering the market as it displays tweets in order of the most recent to the least recent to all of your followers. This allows businesses to really get their voice into the world of social media, however, timing and regularity is greatly important here as tweets are pushed down quickly through the newsfeed due to the regularity and uncensored, raw nature of tweets. Be quick on your feet with tweets!

→ Similarly to facebook, videos are quite effective for twitter. Better yet, tweeting about recent news and using trending hashtags helps push your tweets to a wider audience.



→ The LI algorithm can be tricky business. It can be organised by ‘recent’ or ‘top’. LI don’t give much away about how their algorithm works, making it difficult to fully understand how to reach and engage with your audience.

→ The best way to bring your post to the top would be to engage your followers. When your followers like or comment on your post, this is then projected in the news feed to their followers, basically producing a carry on effect. Very simply, the more likes and comments, the more people

Choose your platform carefully


Businesses need to choose carefully what the most suitable platform is to optimise their brand. For example, food brands predominantly use instagram and then facebook to promote their businesses as they have a strong visual component. B2B businesses will primarily use LinkedIn as there is strong corporate reach and it is place where mostly white collars use to keep up to date with industry news, current affairs and relevant business opportunity. Twitter is mainly used for news as it is quick, digestible and user friendly.

Of course, there are many ways to increase your reach and engagement to your audience. Paid advertisements is one way, but can prove to be quite expensive in the long term, especially under certain platforms such as linkedin. If you find social media to be an important part of your marketing and business strategy, and need a loan to get this on track, think Spotcap. Spotcap offer flexible business loans of $10k to $250 to SMEs to fill financial gaps and focus on what really matters – their business. For more learnings in marketing, finance and business, follow us on social by searching ‘Spotcap New Zealand’.

Until next time,

The Spotcap team.