Understanding the Ever-Evolving Social Media Algorithms

Understanding the Ever-Evolving Social Media Algorithms_

Want to be seen? You’ve got to get found. The way that digital marketing functions now requires brands to understand constantly updating changes to the algorithms of search engines and social media in order to compete in their industries. Leeds marketing agency Punch Creative discusses how grappling with ever-evolving algorithms is a difficult task, but not an impossible one as long as you utilise the tools at your disposal.

What is a social media algorithm?

Algorithms are systems followed or a set of rules that must be obeyed in order to get a particular result. In terms of the web, you may be familiar with social media algorithms.

Essentially, when your favourite influencer suddenly experiences a dramatic drop in views they’re likely to complain about the ways that the algorithms have moved out of their favour.

In marketing, this isn’t something that can really be allowed to happen. If your content starts performing badly, you’re losing money that you’ve spent on the campaigns and they’re not doing their job properly. So ideally, you’d want to be able to anticipate these changes and move quickly to ensure your content reaches your audience.

How do social media algorithms work?

This becomes difficult when Google algorithms and social media analytics are constantly evolving. Not just by their own intervention either! Algorithms are shaped by you and your behaviour.  The more you use a certain platform, the more it learns what you like. If your audience is constantly engaging with a certain brand or type of content, the platform will show them more content from that brand as it assumes that they’ll like it and engage with it.

This is why you’ll end up finding your for you page covered with posts about a movie if you’ve interacted with their trailers, or why you’ll get more adverts for skirts if you’ve been shopping for skirts online. The algorithm caters to the consumer and tries to push products, goods, services, and profiles onto them that it assumes you’ll enjoy. 

Cash is king

This isn’t just for the benefit of the consumer, however. It allows social platforms and search engines to make money. When platforms sell advertising spaces they make money from the ad revenue, meaning that they’re incentivised to want to show you relevant content. They get something out of it too! Tailoring specific content towards users results in them spending more time on the platform too. Put it this way – if you’re seeing content you like, you’ll probably keep scrolling.

You only get one shot

Media isn’t viewed at a linear rate nowadays, meaning that an advertiser will usually only have one chance to make an impact on a consumer and cause them to take action! This means that targeting ads very specifically to a consumer base that has been researched and identified as a target audience persona is more important than ever.

Social media is your best buddy for this, with algorithms providing information about what consumers buy, what they wear, what they watch, and even what their friends and family are buying, wearing, and watching. This gives us an unprecedented amount of information unlike ever before. It’s a brand new age for brands.

This quickly changing nature of what consumers are viewing (with shortened attention spans, made worse by the ride of short-form video content and endless scrolling software) paired with the way in which algorithms are constantly adapting, changing what is expected of posts and advertisements in terms of how to target audiences, requires serious consideration. Overall, it’s important to know that algorithms are king when it comes to working with almost any social media platform. There’s no escaping the way they’ll influence your experience online.

The race to keep up with the algorithm

However, this quickly evolving landscape isn’t all good news for users, marketers, or even the platforms themselves. The growth and evolution of social media algorithms in particular, have resulted in reduced organic reach. Unless a business is spending time and money on optimising content for SEO and utilising PPC, they’re unlikely to experience natural growth, which means their content is less likely to reach their target audience. Those who rely primarily on digital marketing have to be in the know when it comes to changing terms, conditions, and algorithmic updates to these platforms or they’ll quickly learn it affects their visibility and reach.

Times have changed

This shift in digital marketing towards social media has also meant that there is greater competition, as businesses become more accessible to the average consumer. With traditional marketing, customers were more likely to look for local businesses, limiting their potential options. Think about how you used to check the Yellow Pages for a plumber compared to googling for one now. When the landscape is so oversaturated and you don’t adapt your strategy to updates accordingly, you’ll fall behind your competition in a way that may be hard to recover from. 

How to become besties with algorithms

Staying up to date with any updates like Google’s Core Updates, or what knowledge industry leaders are saying on the subject of algorithmic changes should be a part of your regular schedule if you work with social media or in digital marketing. As changes are made you need to set aside time to understand them and rework your strategy accordingly. This means not just paying attention to the core updates, but also to any subtle changes that could be indicators of larger updates to be made. 

Get in the know

Follow industry blogs and subreddits in order to hear what your fellow marketing managers, SEO executives, and content marketers are saying. You can also attend in-person events like conferences and networking socials to make connections that might aid you in keeping up with trends and developments. Subscribe to email marketing for these platforms and their creator channels to hear first-hand from the platforms themselves about changes that are being made and how they will affect you. 

Don’t exhaust yourself

If you’re struggling to implement changes to ensure you’re getting the best performance possible out of your social platforms, then make sure you’re doing proper data analysis. You can use applications and websites available to the general public like Brandwatch and Hootsuite to monitor how your content is performing so you can decide which you need to prioritise and whether you may need to make changes. 

Ideally, grappling with the ever-evolving algorithmic updates of search engines and social media channels requires time, effort, and money. This will ensure that the company is able to keep up with the industry and remain relevant in a time when it’s so difficult to stay on top of the quickly changing nature of updates.


Remember, the Punch Creative blog is a great source of industry news and updates to help make sure your marketing strategy is as effective as possible. Check out more posts from our knowledge hub here.