Tackling social algorithms: Get extra eyes on your live-event social media

May 20, 2024

According to Sprout Social, social media users grew by roughly 320 million worldwide from January 2023 to January 2024. Today an estimated 5.7 billion people are using social media to consume information making it a top channel to reach consumers. 

However, getting the most out of your social media investment doesn’t come easy. The algorithm, for instance, can be a friend or foe—depending on whether you learn to use it to your advantage.

Here is a breakdown of what a social media algorithm is, how it varies per platform, and how you can use it to maximize your posts’ reach. 

What is a social media algorithm?

A social media algorithm is a mathematical, data-based system that is used to rank content. Every social media platform has (a version of) one. It's this system that determines what content is pushed towards which audience and when.

What’s the purpose of having a social media algorithm?

Algorithms were made with individual user experience, engagement, and personalization in mind. They  keep track of user activity on social media– specifically paying attention to content that each user interacts with the most.

As a result, these algorithms determine what each user is most interested in, then prioritizes optimal content on the user’s feed. This way, users are served content by the algorithm they’re most likely to engage with. This means no two social media users have the same social feed. 

By connecting the right audience to the right content, social media companies aim to maximize engagement on their platform. After all, when platform engagement grows, so does the longevity of the app itself. 

Factors to keep in mind before you post: 

Engagement and activity

On social media, the word ‘engagement’ is used to classify any user behavior—from likes to comments, reposts, shares, saves, and beyond.

Social media platforms pay attention to engagement activity, because high engagement = a more interesting post. Therefore, if engagement on your post is really high, you can count on the algorithm pushing it onto more people’s feeds.

But wait, be careful not to beg for likes or engagement. Some platforms, like Facebook, have updated their algorithms to demote posts that include “engagement bait”. Instead ask your audience open ended questions or encourage them to share a response to your content.

Timeliness

Newer posts are more likely to appear higher in feeds than older posts. Some social platforms, like Instagram, have analytics showing you when your following is most active. That way, scheduling posts to when your audience is most likely to be online is easy–ultimately growing eyeballs on your content.

Content type

Content type is important when optimizing your social media page(s). Whether it’s long-form or short-form video, photo, or text, social algorithms rarely treat them the same. In fact, some platforms prefer certain content over others. 

For example, posting photos was all the rage when Instagram and Tumblr rose in popularity in the early 2010s. However, platforms such as Vine and subsequently TikTok gave way to the rise of short-form video content today.

As a result, short-form videos are currently the highest performing content type on social media, and are more likely to be promoted by algorithms. Regardless, if you want to get your content in front of more people, be aware of how platforms change. Keeping an eye on changing content trends can help you stay on top of the algorithm.

Watch time & duration

Again, we are living in a short-form video world.

Social media platforms pay close attention to watch time and duration across your video content. Specifically, they look at the amount of time (aka ‘duration’) users spend looking at videos, and how much of any given video they watch.

As you could guess, it’s really good if a lot of people are viewing your video. If they’re watching it all the way through it’s even better, because the algorithm is more likely to promote it. So, if you’re posting short-form videos online, try to keep short and sweet in mind before you post.

Account relationships

Sometimes, social media algorithms prioritize content from friends, family, or mutual followers–putting their content higher on a user’s feed. Content from accounts that align with a user’s interest (especially if that account falls within their circle of friends, family, and mutuals) are also prioritized.

For businesses in the live events industry who have social media accounts, this might be important to keep in mind. Your audience includes your followers’ audience, which may help when promoting events, etc.

Location

This is an underutilized variable for many live events businesses. Most people don’t realize that algorithms do take note of the location a post was uploaded from. Algorithms will commonly promote that post to users who are in or around that same location.

So if you’re posting about an upcoming event, remember to add the location before you hit upload (even if you aren’t physically there!). People in the area who won’t hear by word of mouth could end up learning about it via your post.

Some platform specific tips:

Instagram

  • Post more than once a day on a consistent schedule: Posting on a consistent schedule helps with engagement, especially if you really change it up. For example, upload a carousel and a story earlier in the day, and then a reel later on. 
  • Focus on reels, but don’t forget about photos: Instagram has been trying to pull back on promoting too much video content (ever since they went “all in” on Instagram Reels), so mixing in photos very now and again won’t hurt.
  • Edit text and don’t shy away from hashtags: Using searchable keywords and hashtags in your captions will help people find your post when using the “search” feature.
  • Interact with and engage your audience: Since algorithms pay attention to engagement, try to make your posts as interactive as possible! Use polls or ask questions in your posts to encourage discussion in the comments. You can use interactive story features to encourage audience responses there as well.

TikTok

  • Use hashtags: Hashtags are one of the most popular ways to find videos on TikTok. If you want your video to show up on the right user’s feed, use hashtags that are related to the topic of your video and relevant to your industry.
  • Pay attention to trends and sounds: Every now and then, music, sounds, and video trends experience their moment of virality on TikTok. By joining these trends, the algorithm may boost your video.
  • Keep that short and sweet mindset: Earlier, we talked about keeping videos short and sweet. This applies to TikTok as well! Users are more likely to stay and watch an entire video if it’s a minute or less compared to one that’s 10 minutes long. If they do watch the whole video, that’ll also send good signals to the algorithm too.
  • Create a hook: Every good essay has a hook that grabs the reader’s attention. In this case, you want to open your video with something that is bound to grab someone’s attention and keep them from scrolling.

Facebook

  • Create a space for meaningful interactions: As previously mentioned, Facebook has cracked down on posts that partake in engagement baiting. Posts that spark meaningful conversation and user-driven interaction is something that their algorithm really prioritizes.
  • Mix content mediums: Similar to Instagram, Facebook has their own version of reels. However, their algorithm specifically prevents too many posts of the same type from appearing on users’ feeds in a row.
  • Increase likelihood of engagement: Don’t hesitate to make your post interactive! The Facebook algorithm has an AI system that estimates the likelihood of interaction per post. If your previous posts had good user engagement and drew people to your page, the algorithm will most likely push your content forward.

A little goes a long way

With platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Linkedin, social media now plays a vital role in our everyday business operations. 

Taking a bit more time to strategize your content, timing and wording can lead to a significant increase in views, sometimes as many as 100x more.

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