What Social Media Platforms Don’t Want You to Know About Their Algorithms

Are you having a hard time understanding the value in social media due to low engagement? Does it feel like all your social media efforts have low visibility? Is it hard to understand why certain content is prioritized over yours to viewers? You’re not alone.

We’ve heard time and time again social media is becoming an increasingly pay-to-play environment where users are forced to fork over large sums of money just to reach target audiences. While that may be partly true, real social media optimization lies in understanding each platform’s algorithm. In other words, the way the platform surfaces posts in a users’ feed.

Thankfully, most of the time, many social media platforms are transparent with their algorithm changes (remember Facebook’s 2018 announcement?) However, it takes a little bit of outside-the-box thinking to figure out how to manipulate the algorithm to have your content go beyond its limitations.

Here’s what Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram don’t want you to know: you can still create impact and outsmart the algorithms with an organic-only social strategy. All it takes is a little bit of creative thinking and understanding of the algorithm!

There’s one other caveat: Chances are, the algorithms you understand today will change 𑁋 in fact, it may happen periodically without warning. Social media platforms are money-making platforms, and some argue these algorithms exist to push brands to pay a premium for social ads. In theory, these algorithms should determine which content to deliver to you based on your behavior, but there are mixed opinions about what the driver is for updating the algorithms so frequently.

That being said, today we’re bringing you what you need to know about current social media algorithms — but keep in mind, come 2021, this will probably change slightly. The good news? You’ll already know what to investigate, and how to manipulate the platform. Bottom line: stay informed on updates from social media platforms to push your content to the top of your audience’s news feed.


The biggest social network worldwide boasts 2.7 billion monthly active users – it’s the social media platform where most are found online.

With the power the platform possesses, the algorithm has shifted to truly be a platform for family and friends, prioritizing updates from your circle rather than business pages. This algorithm also heavily favors any content related to people you engage with on Facebook (think: people’s posts you comment on, people you direct message, etc.) Comments and reactions matter here — the more comments, the better, and the more reactions, the better. The longer the comment, the better and the more variety in reactions, even better.

Most Recent Algorithm Update:
Posts within Facebook Groups show up in newsfeeds greater than ever before.


Join relevant Facebook Groups as an individual and build your brand within groups. Content from an individual person will rank much higher than a business page post (which is almost never seen!) It’s important that while doing this, you are transparent about your role and have your LinkedIn page up-to-date to show where you’re currently employed and which brand you’re representing.

Other Tips to Maximize Reach:

Use Facebook video (Video content is prioritized in news feeds!).
Create posts (try posing a question!) that encourages followers to leave long comments and start conversations in the comments section.


The visual-first platform boasts 1 billion monthly users — it is the second-largest platform after Facebook. Instagram is also owned by Facebook, so its algorithm has some similarities to Facebook.

While there’s been some controversy over this, Instagram does still prioritize posts with the most number of likes. Likes matter, but so do comments and engagements overall. Similar to Facebook’s algorithm, Instagram makes your newsfeed a very personal experience — it ranks posts higher with accounts you’ve engaged with in the past. Interestingly enough, Instagram also prioritizes posts under the hashtags a user follows — this is huge for brands looking to get discovered by new followers.

Most Recent Algorithm Update:

As part of Instagram’s plan to keep you in the app, they rolled out “suggested posts” which seamlessly integrate with your feed of people you follow. In short, these posts are from accounts you don’t follow, and they’ll appear after you’ve gone through the end of your feed. This is great news for users trying to extend reach, since there may be a possibility that your post would be shared on someone’s feed without them following your account. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, there is some concern that the algorithm will start to rank brands lower, so we’re all keeping an eye on this.


To potentially get your content shared to other accounts that don’t follow you, focus on getting engagement, comments, likes, and shares on your content. The increased engagement will tell Instagram’s algorithm that it’s worth sharing with others who don’t follow the account.

Other Tips to Maximize Reach:

  • Invest time in researching the right hashtags for your content to be discovered. Since the algorithm prioritizes hashtags that users follow, it’s important to get your content tagged under relevant hashtags for your posts to be discoverable.
  • Use Instagram stories to engage with your followers organically, without disrupting the overall feel of your feed.
  • Keep captions meaningful. Length doesn’t matter in the algorithm, just make it relevant and useful to those consuming the content.
  • Ask questions and encourage followers to comment and tag others in the comments section to beat the algorithm and expand reach.
  • Consistency is key. Users who don’t post frequently are deranked when they do decide to post.


The world’s largest professional network has over 706 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Even better, Hubspot uncovered that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter — for most businesses, this is the place to be.

Consistency is key here. The algorithm favors people who post frequently on LinkedIn, even if their posts don’t have tons of engagement. Aim for consistency over likes. This algorithm is similar to Facebook’s where it prioritizes updates from users you’ve engaged with in the past, in addition to those who post frequently. Those viral LinkedIn updates you see? This platform loves to push updates that have a large number of engagements (comments and reactions) to the top of each person’s news feed. However, more reactions isn’t always better. Like Facebook, lengthy comments are a way to get your updates seen. And like Facebook, a business profile isn’t going to get higher visibility over an individual person’s update.

Most Recent Algorithm Update:

Video no longer holds as much weight in being ranked higher on the news feed. Now, LinkedIn videos must have significant engagement to be ranked higher, rather than the old algorithm that simply favored all video over text and static image posts. Video is still important, just not as important.


To increase visibility on a video, try tagging people (if a C-Suite level executive engages with your post, they have a higher pull in the algorithm and will help you increase your reach!) If video isn’t reaching most, try posting text-only posts, these types of posts are still the top hitter in terms of reach.

Other Tips to Maximize Reach:

  • Create content that inspires conversation and comments.
  • Only post external links sparingly, the algorithm doesn’t favor redirecting people to another landing page. Text-only LinkedIn updates are the way to go.
  • Use C-suite executives’ LinkedIn individual profiles to increase reach and engagement, rather than just relying on the business page.
  • Post frequently. If you’re not active, LinkedIn demotes your updates on the news feed ranking.


The breaking-news as-it-happens platform has 330 million monthly active users and 145 million daily active users. Twitter has shifted over the last few years to be a source for users to discover today’s trending stories — the biggest news and events. While people do still use it for personal reasons, most follow big brands, reputable sources, and influencers to consume content they find most important to them.

The key to being successful here is to make sure you’re being retweeted. Retweets gain impressions from followers of the accounts that retweeted your tweet — you’re no longer just reaching your following.

Most Recent Algorithm Update:

Earlier this year, Twitter enabled the capability for iOS users to toggle between the top tweets and recent tweets, altering how the news feed was organized. Otherwise, the top thing about Twitter remains true: frequency matters. The algorithm is designed to prioritize tweets within the last 24 hours (that also have great engagement!) — so keep tweetin’!


Try tweeting anywhere from 2 to 6 times per day. This may seem like a lot, but if your audience is on Twitter, frequency is the only way to beat the algorithm organically.

Other Tips to Maximize Reach:

  • Pose tweets that ask questions to get people talking (think about hosting a Twitter chat if this makes sense for your audience).
  • Create Twitter polls to boost engagement and understand your audience better.
    Create visually-appealing tweets to stop people scrolling aimlessly.
  • Tweet, tweet, tweet. They should be quick tweets — remember your followers aren’t spending more than a few minutes looking at their feed at a time and only a few seconds on your tweet. Just tweet it (while staying in-line with your brands persona and messaging!).

Learn to Beat the Algorithms

Each platform holds different rules and treats activity differently, and just when we think we understand the current rules, these platforms will go and switch things up on us! It’s important to stay informed about what’s next in social media and use these algorithms to further your brand. It’s no longer valid to say social media is useless unless you pay for ads — there’s plenty that can be done to increase visibility on your brand, it just requires a little bit of research, planning, and a whole lot of strategic thinking.

Jenna Lally's headshot

Jenna Lally

As Marketing Strategist, Jenna crafts customized digital marketing strategies and cross-channel content to connect with diverse audiences.

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