Understanding algorithms to improve your social media

Understanding what does and doesn’t work on any social media platform can, at times, seem like a dark art. That’s because behind the scenes of every social media website there’s a complex algorithm working to determine a post’s quality. Using a number of factors, that algorithm decides whether your post is “good enough” to take prime spot in a timeline.

It’s no surprise that the exact science of what these algorithms are looking for has never been revealed – otherwise we’d all have perfect posts every time. But thankfully, there’s now plenty of practical evidence to suggest what kind of things work well. Here’s a few of them to help your business get ahead.

How can I boost my engagement?

Facebook looks for “meaningful content” to push to the news feed. Simply put, this means content that is likely to generate the “right” kind of engagement from people. 

This means avoiding “engagement baiting” tactics. Telling people to “Like/share if you agree…” might seem like an easy way to get a fast engagement boost but Facebook’s algorithm is smart to phrases like this: they’re read as spam and are marked down.

Instead, aim to create content that will spark comment or conversation. If you’re posting photos of a treatment or nail art, ask a relevant question in the text of the post. If the image alongside it is good, you’ll get engagement from people “liking” the image and commenting as well. Facebook will see you’ve sparked commentary and will want to push that post to more people to encourage even more.

How important is it to use video?

Something I’ve previously touched on in these columns is the importance of video on social media. Despite algorithms being regularly updated, video content continually performs better than all other types.

Video is the perfect opportunity to allow your audience to build a relationship with you before they’ve even come in to your salon or spa. It also ticks the “meaningful content” box as it’s most likely to encourage people to comment and interact.

What features are the most important?

Other than video, when social media platforms update their algorithms there aren’t many things that remain a constant because there’s usually a shift to focus on new features. Given the time put in to developing these features, it’s no surprise that social platforms reward those who use them.

Instagram’s IGTV is a prime example. Earlier this year, the platform introduced a feature that allows you to post a one-minute preview of an IGTV video to your grid. These videos regularly draw in up to four times the views of a normal video posted to the grid.

Similarly, there’s evidence that Facebook Stories are performing well for those who use them. While they’re nowhere near as popular as Instagram Stories yet, Facebook continues to push them strongly – implying they’re not going away anytime soon. Adopting them now, when the market is less crowded, could be an easy win for your business. 

Keep on top of your social media with our guide to scheduling your posts effectively and finding your salon's audience