The Mechanics Behind Social Media Algorithms


Photo Courtesy: Business Review

Rhea Wojack

     Social media networks have been a topic on the issue of censorship for a long time.  Many people feel as if they are unfair, as it can be frustrating to gain traction, but there is a way to how the algorithm works. 

     “Social networks prioritize which content a user sees in their feed first by the likelihood that they’ll actually want to see it,” Brent Barnhart from social media software marketing website, Sprout Social, writes.  

     Social media algorithms are programs made by a company designed to filter a user’s feed based on what they would or would not be interested in. Sprout Social states that machine learning and data science contribute to a program being able to sort and analyze posts based on the policies from the company. A user can customize settings to work conveniently for them with options such as trending, most recent, friends only, or keyword searches.

     “As of last year [2018], there were approximately 4 billion internet users, and of these users, about 3 billion were on social media. That’s a massive undertaking to monitor and manage. This is why algorithms are so crucial in determining the validity and placement of social media accounts and content,” writes marketing website school, Digital Marketing Institute.  

     The algorithm gives a way for brands to promote themselves via accounts or ads.  Many upcoming or big companies use social media as a way to promote products, sponsor content creators, or to kickstart a business.  Smaller creators or small business owners can also use social media to start a name for themselves and sell their products.

     “Regardless of why social media algorithms exist, the fact remains that they aren’t going anywhere. For brands, this means learning what algorithms “want” and likewise what might cause content to be viewed as low-quality or irrelevant to their audience,” writes Barnhart.

     As social media is now one of the best ways to promote a business, a person, or simply communicate, it is crucial for social media websites to constantly improve the algorithm and communicate with users to make changes.  Due to the fact that all companies have different policies, business workers can look out for updates from the social media company to change the strategy or advertisement. Public figures may find social media a little more challenging due to censorship rules that can be vague or misleading.  Many political content creators can be censored because a social media website doesn’t want to promote or does not agree with their opinions.  Social media is a platform for free speech, and while that is often in debate, the fact that can be agreed on by everyone is that social media is now the most popular form of communication, especially among younger generations, and it is important for the public to understand how policies and algorithms, and how they can change or present information.

     Sites such as and are helpful resources for understanding and using social media as a marketing tool, or even just for learning about the algorithms about many popular social media sites.