Understanding the Social Media Algorithm

Article 2 min
Social media algorithms are constantly evolving and being refined. Algorithms will vary depending on the platform, but whatever the formula, the outcome is always the same: getting the user the content they want to see.

As a public affairs professional, it's important to understand algorithms to rationalize and defend the use of social media. The platform manager must keep on top of algorithm changes through social media evaluations; via formal updates from the platforms and testing of content and posts.

With information as the 7th Joint Function, you need to remember that social media is a competitive space. Platforms like Facebook set the rules of engagement but it's up to you to win the loyalty of your audience. If you stick to traditional methods of communication and don’t look to build a conversation, then you will use a disproportionate amount of time repeating messages that won’t resonate or reach your audience.

The core value of any platform's algorithm is to keep the user on that platform as long as possible. If your content can do that, then you are golden with any variation of the algorithm. More interactive content means a larger voice in a crowded space.

Ranking Signals at a Glance

Algorithms look at a number of different signals to determine where and how to feature your content. Here are some of the most common.

Who a user typically interacts with
Show me more feature
Why am I seeing this post feature
The type of media in the post
Facebook Live
The popularity of the post
The timeliness (recency) of the post
New Posts feature
Duration of engagement
Time of day
Meaningful Interactions
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200422-D-VE872-1019

Explore the sites and pages put together by Facebook/Instagram and Twitter below but research any platform you're on to know how they rank content. Use that research to inform your organization's social media strategy, but remember, as a DoD-affiliated site, you are not permitted to advertise or promote your content.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook Business offers a myriad of tools from audience insights to online classrooms for both Facebook and Instagram.



Twitter offers brand resources and audience insights.



For more information on social media algorithms, check out Hootsuite's Social Media Algorithms: A 2023 Guide for Every Network.

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