Did you know that when you pop open Facebook, or scroll through your Tumblr feed, you are only getting a small fraction of the posts that go past your little virtual window? The reason for that is because social media sites attempt to cherry pick what they think you’ll like, and that’s what you get shown.
Because social media is a lot like an observant date. It pays attention to what you say, what you like, the opinions you express, and the things you share with your friends, and it remembers them. So that way it can help tailor your experience, based on your past behavior.
Visibility on social media is decided by algorithms; formulas that decide the “best” results for you. The same kinds of formulas are found in search engines, which find all the relevant sites based on your search terms and try to put them into some kind of order. While every social media algorithm is unique, and is constantly being tweaked and updated to increase the user experience, there is a basic pattern these formulas follow. It’s called CHART, according to LinkedIn, and it stands for:
The first part of the formula is the post’s creator. If it’s someone you follow, or a page you belong to, then you’re much more likely to see their content than not. The same is true if you have a history of viewing posts from a certain person. If you like every post that someone makes, then your social media site will keep showing you their content. “Artistic” refers to the type of content it is. Videos and images are inherently better content than pure text posts, and thus you’re more likely to see them than you are a status that’s all words. A riveting post is one that’s been popular with other users, and even though you may not have a personal history with the creator, it’s doing well enough that you may see it. And lastly, trending asks how fresh and new the post is; newer content is more likely to be seen than older content.
The challenge a social media algorithm faces is taking these disparate values, and trying to figure out how likely someone is to enjoy a particular piece of content based on the assigned values.
While it might sound like you have no control over what you see on your own social media page, the truth is that you have quite a lot of control of what content makes its way into your news feed. If you want to see content from a particular creator, or friend, all you have to do is make sure you’re following them, click their links, and like and share their posts. Check your settings, and make sure you’re satisfied with your privacy.
Most importantly, though, you can make sure certain types of content don’t show up in your feed. If you don’t like a certain creator, or you want to avoid content from a certain source, you can unfollow, and block, that source. That sends a clear message to the site’s algorithm, letting it know to take all those pieces of content out of the running.
Remember that every decision you make, and every setting you change, modifies what social media prioritizes. Choose wisely, because it really is trying to earn your approval.
You may notice that Kerin spells her name a little differently than most. It happened in Grade 4 when there were a bunch of other Karens in her class. She changed it to stand out and has been standing out ever since.