Social Media Algorithms for 2021: A Beginner’s Guide

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Social media — nearly everyone has (at least) heard of them. But to gain any traction on them, you have to understand how they work. The answer? Algorithms. Every platform has one — even Google. In this blog, you’ll gain an understanding of what an algorithm is, the different social media algorithms, and how to optimize your content per channel. Let’s get started!

What Are Social Media Algorithms?

An algorithm is a mathematical set of rules specifying how a group of data behaves. In social media, an algorithm automatically calculates which social media posts make it to the top of your feed (and which don’t).

Overall, there are two factors that come into play. The first is the amount of engagement that piece of content has received (especially in a short period of time). The second is how much a user engages with that creator’s content in general. 

It’s important to note here that social media algorithms vary by platform. Let’s break it down by the main platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Facebook’s designed to bring people together with meaningful content. So, meaningful customer engagement is key to its algorithm and your success. This algorithm’s purpose is to boost the importance and viewership of local, familial and friendly posts, rather than business posts.

What does this mean for your business? It means your content needs to be deeper than just a sales pitch. It needs to be relatable and meaningful. Now, paid content is a little different but still revolves around engagement, responses, and relevant subject matter. 

Facebook Algorithm 2021 Updates

  • Facebook is prioritizing posts in Groups and Events, as they’re “the two biggest reasons people visit Facebook every day.”
  • Hashtags: Facebook has implemented recommended tag listings for when you’re putting together a post. Note: not everyone can use this new feature yet because it’s still in beta. But it could be a great way to get a bigger reach on Facebook.


Its algorithm suggests new content for the user they may find interesting based on their previous search history and interactions. For example, if you recently viewed DIY popsicle crafts, it’ll likely show you other DIY crafts the next time you log in. This increases content turnover while showing new content the user may be interested in. 

Pinterest Algorithm 2021 Updates

  • Videos with good engagement get prioritized over static content (generally speaking);
  • De-prioritizing content from mega-influencers while giving users a chance to see content from non-internet-famous users in their network;
  • Content with external links tend to get more engagement than those without;
  • The longer a user spends viewing a post, the more likely it’ll get prioritized.


Twitter is unique because it ranks its posts not only by relation to the user but to the time and date posted. Fresh and updated material ranks higher than day-old news. Plus, the number of comments a Tweet has will also influence its rank.

Twitter Algorithm 2021 Updates

Twitter will continue to prioritize tweets with high engagement and recent tweets, so volume and frequency still matter on this platform. We’ve also seen higher engagement rates when:

  • Tweets contain up to two hashtags and 100 characters
  • Tweets contain an image link
  • You specifically ask your followers to retweet


Instagram is about showing as many people as much information in a day as possible. Therefore, its algorithm focuses on every aspect of social media, from relevancy and connection to engagement and content popularity. 

The reasoning behind the Instagram algorithm is to encourage comments, shares, likes, adds, and further posting. Also, as of writing this guide, Instagram prioritizes reels over any other kind of content that’s shared on their platform. A reel is a 30-second video showing highlights of whatever it is you’re trying to demonstrate.

Instagram Algorithm 2021 Updates

  • Posts with clickbait or engagement bait don’t get recommended
  • Contests or giveaways don’t get recommended
  • Repurposed content from another source without added value doesn’t get recommended


YouTube is an underused platform for B2B communication — this is an incredible marketing tool that has a lot of potential. However, this channel’s algorithm is notoriously tricky. Plus, there are several ways its algorithm can show users its content. The most common way is being shown a recommended video based on what you’ve already watched.

YouTube Algorithm 2021 Updates

  • Factors in the users’ likelihood of engaging with your channel and your content
  • Having a strong relationship with your audience is more important than your subscriber count

Help! I Don't Know Where to Begin!

So you know everything there is to know about social media algorithms for 2021. But if you still feel like this is a lot to handle, that’s okay! That’s where Siva Creative can help. We’re the digital agency that can help you dominate your social channels. Reach out today to see what we can do!

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