What to Know About 2023 Social Media Algorithms
Chase trends. Show up everywhere, multiple times a day. Try to keep up with the algorithm just to be seen.
Sound like your day-to-day on social media? You’re not alone.
It’s exhausting. It’s expensive. And honestly? NOT a good social media marketing tactic in 2023.
These algorithms are not working in our favor.
They cater to the actual platforms, not the people, brands, or businesses that use them. Companies like Meta want us to keep consuming content on their platform, which is why the algorithm is the way it is.
And yet we’re told that we have to play into the algos to be seen, to grow our reach, to build community. We’re shown the new features and we hear rumblings that “Instagram is prioritizing video — no, photo! — no, video” we have no clue what’s actually happening anymore.
The majority of content education (and information about the algorithm) we see comes from Meta-paid influencers who are being paid (indirectly) by, you guessed it…Zuck himself.
Which is bullshit — because most of these “algorithm hacks” aren’t working for businesses in 2023.
The bad news? Using the latest features, posting three times a day, or keyword jamming your alt text and captions won’t get you the results you actually want in 2023 (or any year).
The good news? Showcasing your brand, the lifestyle it offers, and sharing real deep value that appeals to your audience will get you the results you want. Even in 2023 when it feels like the algo is out to get you.
Let’s talk about 2023 social media algorithms and why what we hear about them isn’t actually what we need to know about them.
Exposing the algo for what it is
The problem with social media algorithms — or at least what we hear about them — is that they force us all to do the same shit. The same videos with the same audio. The same carousels with Twitter screenshots. No creativity, no innovation.
Sure, you find ways to be creative within those limitations, but think about how much more you could do if you had unlimited freedom.
It’d be a hell of a lot easier to stand out, that’s for sure.
The biggest lie we’re told about social media for business? We have to change course whenever the algo-wind blows in a new direction. I’ll tell you right now: That’s what they want you to think.
Without sounding like a total conspiracy theorist, let’s dig into it.
The algorithm is a self-fulfilling prophecy
Mosseri says jump, we jump. Zuck says go, we go. They release new “best practices” for their new algorithm, it feeds that algorithm. As a whole, we have to trust what they say because… what other choice do we have?
They’re the experts after all. They run the platforms.
But we don’t have to follow the experts when those strategies are proven to not work for brands like yours.
And the reality is? Their algorithm isn’t necessarily built around all those strategies they sell you.
Let’s take Mosseri’s announcements on Instagram — he talks about all these tools they’re creating for “content creators” or changes to the algorithm that are going to “change the way people connect on the app.”
Now, I’m not out to get Mosseri personally, but when he does these announcements, it floods users to those features or to implement these best practices.
This then tells the algorithm “Hey, look over here! People like this! People are using the app like that.”
See how that works?
At least, that’s how it works for these apps and content creators dedicated to their platforms. It doesn’t necessarily work for your brand.
We’re fed features and new “strategies” that are designed to keep people scrolling. And ultimately, who does mindless scrolling benefit? It’s certainly not your business.
But the most mind-boggling part of the social media algorithm (as a whole)? It’s not what we’ve been told.
Those “new releases” aren’t even part of the true algorithm
That algorithm we keep talking about? It’s not even what most of us think about when we think of the “algorithm.”
The algorithm is a master computer somewhere, showing people the most popular content and what all the cool kids are doing, right?
Again, Zuckerberg, Mosseri, and Meta-backed content creators are showing you new features or “upgrades” to bum-rush the algorithm, to show it how people are using the app.
To the algo, users are “totally loving” something, when in fact we’re being influenced to use them.
Mosseri wrote this article in 2021, and much of what is in there still stands today. (Also note that a lot of what he covers applies to other platforms as well, but for the sake of brevity we’re just covering IG today).
Each feature for Instagram, for example – Stories, Feed, Explore, Reels – has its own algorithm, which dictates the order in which users see content.
In general, the algorithm takes into account:
- Information about how you use a feature. What did you like or comment on last? How long do you watch certain videos? How often do you share content? Are you watching the Explore tab or are you working mostly from your feed?
- Information about the post. This includes likes, comments, shares, time of posting, length of video, location, etc. More popular posts are going to get boosted, we know this.
- Information about the person who posted. Do you follow this person? Is it a really popular account? Do your friends/connections follow this person?
- History of interaction. Do you comment on this person’s posts? Are you mutual followers? How many times have you interacted with their account in the last few weeks?
All that boiled down? Working with the algorithm means understanding:
- Relationships between the author of the content and the viewer
- Interest in a specific topic or content
- Relevancy and timeliness
This is where knowing your audience and knowing where they show up is critical — because what will get you seen isn’t necessarily tied to which features your audience is using.
They’re more likely to see any content you post if they follow you, interact with past content, or have consumed/liked content similar to yours.
This is great news for brands because it doesn’t mean dancing and pointing on Reels and it doesn’t mean you have to learn all the new features on the latest update.
Stick to what you know: Posting great content and building a community that enjoys said content.
You know what’s best for you and your business
At the end of the day, the algorithm is not our enemy. And those new features that these apps keep peddling? You don’t have to use them to “hack the algorithm.”
Leaning into the basics of how an algorithm works, you can actually craft a strategy that doesn’t rely on trending sounds or the most perfect hashtags.
The best part about alllll of this? You don’t have to create content just to create content. Because let’s face it, begrudgingly posting a TikTok or late-night LinkedIn post isn’t your best work.
So do what works for you. That’s the beautiful thing about social media marketing — not everything is for everybody. It keeps things exciting and unique, but most importantly, it keeps it effective.
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