written by
Dayana Mayfield

Social Media Algorithms 2020: Updates & Tips by Platform

Knowledge 10 min read, March 5, 2020

Are you ready for all the social media algorithms 2020 updates?

Are you worried that your content will suffer even worse reach and engagement than it did in 2019? You're not alone. 80% of social media marketers say that their top strategy is to increase engagement across all channels.

Don't fret — we'll be keeping this article updated all year with news, tips, and tricks to help you master organic reach in 2020.

Paid social media traffic is critical for many businesses and brands, but organic traffic is the White Whale: it's free, fosters loyalty, and builds community.

Since you spend so much time on your content, you want as much free reach as you can get.

What are social media algorithms?

A social media algorithm is an automated calculation that decides which social media posts make it to the top of your feed, and which don't. Overall, the top factors in most social media algorithms are the amount of engagement that piece of content has received (especially within a short time frame), and also how much you tend to engage with that creator's content in general.

Some social media algorithms, like YouTube, take into account how much you engage with that type of content too. Let's dive into these social media algorithms 2020!

Facebook

Facebook

With 2.5 billion active monthly users, Facebook is still the top social media platform in terms of users. However, this social media giant takes a lot of heat from businesses, because of how difficult it is to get organic reach with a business page (versus a regular user profile).

Let's take a look at how business-related content can make it into users' organic social media feeds without having to utilize a business page to post content.

Posts by users' friends in groups show up far more often in the newsfeed than ever before.

Social media algorithms 2020: example of a post that could show up in someone's newsfeed

You can build up friendships and a following to discuss business, right from your personal account.

Example of a post that can build friendships and a following.

How this social media algorithm works

Here are some of the defining factors of this social media algorithm:

  • Prioritizes content from friends and family members over businesses
  • Heavily prioritizes content from people you engage with (people whose posts you comment and like on, or who you message)
  • Prioritizes number and length of comments
  • Prioritizes number of reactions and variety of reactions
  • Shows both recent content from your top friends and highly engaged content from friends that you personally engage with less often

Updates for 2020

The biggest update for 2020 is how Facebook is clearly prioritizing posts that are made in Groups. Facebook understands that the privacy and somewhat exclusivity of Groups makes this feature unique.

Tips for winning on Facebook in 2020

Here are some ways that you can win on Facebook in 2020 (aside from running paid ads).

  • When applicable, use your profile as a business owner or start an employee advocacy program.
  • Set posts to 'public' to gain traction with followers.
  • Ask questions to inspire engagement.
  • Post content that inspires meaningful, lengthy comments (not just "Nice shot").
  • Utilize Facebook video (doesn't have to be live!).

Instagram

Instagram

When it comes to engagement, Instagram is light years ahead of Facebook. Brands' content on Instagram gets a 1.6% engagement rate. Let's take a look at how business owners utilize Instagram.

In these examples, a fitness coach asks her audience for shopping decision advice, and a marketing education site offers a mini-tutorial in a carousel post.

How this social media algorithm works

The Instagram algorithm has the following characteristics:

  • Prioritizes posts with the highest number of likes
  • Prioritizes very recent posts (created within minutes of a user logging on)
  • Prioritizes posts from profiles that the user normally engages with
  • Prioritizes posts from hashtags that the user follows
  • Occasionally shows posts with great engagement from a profile and using hashtags that the user does not follow
  • Is believed to treat brands' content and consumers' content

Updates for 2020

While there's always a concern that Instagram will start to downgrade content from business profiles, there's still evidence of this being true. In 2020, there are even more instances of users seeing content by profiles that they don't follow (not in the Discover tab but in their main feed). To increase your chances of that happening, focus on getting engagement from your core followers.

Tips for winning on Instagram in 2020

How can you master one of the toughest social media algorithms 2020? Let's see...

  • Engage with followers content during the first hour after you post something.
  • During the first three hours after you post something, immediately respond to every comment.
  • Write meaningful captions.
  • Ask questions in your captions in order to engage with your audience better.
  • There's no one way to apply hashtags, so experiment with different hashtags and hashtag strategies.
  • Utilize Instagram Stories to get more organic reach with your audience, without affecting the cohesive style of your feed.
  • Stay consistent! This algorithm will downgrade you if you post randomly. You should post once a day, once every other day, or two times a week (whatever you can manage).

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Did you know that 89% of B2B marketers utilize LinkedIn? Let's take a look at some posts that made it to the top of the LinkedIn algorithm.

Here's a LinkedIn post that asks for comments as a favor:

Social Media Algorithms 2020 example of how a LinkedIn post should look

While this post doesn't have a lot of engagement, the person posting it is incredibly frequent on LinkedIn. He posts every day, and he's always in the top three posts on my LinkedIn feed!

This goes to show you that consistency can be even more important than racking up likes.

The LinkedIn algorithm doesn't automatically send video to the top of the feed as it did in 2019, but it still likes it!

Social media algorithms 2020: LinkedIn doesn't send video to the top of the feed anymore in 2020

How this social media algorithm works

As far as we marketers can suss out, the LinkedIn algorithm does the following:

  • Prioritizes content from users who you have engaged with in the past, and who post consistently
  • Prioritizes content from users who get large amounts of engagement, even if you don't tend to like or comment on their posts
  • Favors lengthy comments over a high volume of reactions
  • Does not prioritize content from business pages

Updates for 2020

While LinkedIn video is still important in 2020, it's not like it was when they first allowed users to upload videos. Then, the algorithm was clearly prioritizing any video at the top of the feed. Now, videos have to get good engagement to get prioritized, but they still might have a slight leg up on static content.

Also in 2020, LinkedIn is continuing a trend that they started in 2019, which is to de-prioritize content from mega influencers and give users a chance to see content from the non-internet-famous people in their network.

Tips for winning on LinkedIn in 2020

Here's what you can do to get more eyeballs and engagement from LinkedIn:

  • Utilize business owners' and employees' profiles instead of just the business page.
  • Post different types of content: text, images, and video. See what gets the greatest proportion of impact over effort.
  • Stay consistent! This algorithm will definitely downgrade your content if you post randomly. Once per week seems to be the sweet spot for most.

Twitter

Twitter

With 330 million monthly active users and 152 million daily active users, Twitter can't be completely ignored. Twitter is still important in the B2B space.

If you're not sure if it's worth your time, spend some time there — check out competitors, other companies, and popular hashtags — to see if your target audience is active on Twitter.

Let's take a look at some example posts that will score well in the social media algorithms 2020.

Getting retweets is still one of the best ways to increase your reach on Twitter.

Social Media algorithms 2020: Example of a retweet

Creating highly visual content on Twitter matters now more than ever.

Social media algorithms 2020: example of visual content

How this social media algorithm works

Of all the social media algorithms, Twitter factors in recency more than any other. But there are other characteristics too.

  • Prioritizes recent content (last 24 hours) with the highest amount of engagement from users you follow
  • Prioritizes content posted recently (within minutes)
  • Prioritizes content with retweets and comments over likes

Updates for 2020

In 2019, Twitter released the ability to toggle between the top tweets algorithm and recent tweets. This is for iOS only. It's predicted that they could roll this out to desktop too.

Twitter will continue to prioritize tweets with high engagement as well as recent tweets, so volume and frequency still matter on this platform.

Tips for winning on Twitter in 2020

  • Tweet 2 to 8 times per day for the best results.
  • Utilize all 280 characters only in certain posts (when sharing something informative).
  • Ask questions to get engagement.
  • Create a Twitter poll once a month.
  • Immediately respond to all comments within the first 2-3 hours of sending out a tweet.

Pinterest

Pinterest

Female millennials are the top cohort of active pinners, so if that's your target market, then mastering the Pinterest algorithm will be worth your time.

There are other active communities on Pinterest too, especially B2B marketers.

In the B2B marketing space, Pinterest is a great way to share infographics and drive traffic back to the original blog post that has the infographic embedded.

Social media algorithms 2020: example of infographics that attract B2B marketers

Pinterest is very popular among bloggers, who use the site to get organic traffic in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands each month.

How this social media algorithm works

The Pinterest algorithm has the following characteristics as for what shows up in your main feed:

  • Prioritizes fresh, recent pins
  • Prioritizes pins with the most engagement (repins and comments)
  • De-prioritizes pins that someone is repinning to too many boards
  • De-prioritizes pins from groups with hundreds or thousands of contributors

It's important to note that Pinterest newsfeed isn't the only place that users see the content. SEO really matters for Pinterest, because many users discover new content by searching their interests in the search bar.

Updates for 2020

Pinterest will continue trends they set in 2018 and 2019, which is to downgrade spammy pins in the algorithm. Pinners need to be cautious with pinning the same pin in dozens of group boards, and group boards with too many contributors no longer have the distribution reach that they used to. The Pinterest algorithm is also growing in its ability to vet pins for visual quality and to check that pins are only being pinned to relevant boards.

Tips for winning on Pinterest in 2020

  • Pin high-quality images (the length of the images doesn't matter as much as it once did).
  • Only pin to relevant boards.
  • Incorporate relevant SEO keyphrases in your pins.
  • Use a Pinterest scheduling tool like Tailwind to keep your feed fresh.

YouTube

YouTube

While YouTube is still somewhat underutilized in the B2B space, it's still an important platform. 73% of all adults in the US use YouTube.

The YouTube algorithm is notoriously complex, and there are several ways that it shows users' content.

One of the most common ones is after you watch something, you're shown a related video to that topic, or by the same content creator.

Social media algorithms 2020: example of a related youtube video you will see

How this social media algorithm works

YouTube is complicated. And it's one of those social media algorithms 2020 that stays complicated too. It has the following features:

  • Recommends video content related to what you previously watched.
  • Recommends video content by the same content creator as what you previously watched.
  • Recommends viral videos (getting mass amounts of engagement and watch time in a short period of time), even if it's not relevant to you.
  • Let's you toggle to your subscriptions and shows videos from your subscriptions in reverse chronological order.

Like Pinterest, YouTube also has an algorithm, which means that SEO-optimizing your YouTube content is essential.

Updates for 2020

The YouTube algorithm will continue to factor in a user's likelihood of engaging with your channel and the type of content that you post. In 2020, your relationship with your subscribers will be far more important than your number of subscribers. Make sure that your subscribers understand the theme of your channel and know what to expect from you.

Tips for winning on YouTube in 2020

  • One to two minutes into your videos, ask viewers to "hit the like button or comment" if they're enjoying the video, so you increase engagement.
  • SEO optimize all of your YouTube videos.
  • Post consistently so your content makes it to the top of the subscriptions feed.
  • Write meaningful comments on videos in your niche (without asking people to check out your channel).
  • Use other marketing channels to get views and engagement on your videos within the first few hours of posting. Use other social media channels and your email newsletter.
  • Make the first few seconds and the first few minutes of your video very engaging and to-the-point. Don't ramble, or you'll have high bounce rates and low watch time.

These were the social media algorithms 2020 updates! Ready to take your social media management to the next level?

Learn how StoryChief's social features can help streamline your content operations.

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