Facebook has finally shed light on the inner workings of the mysterious algorithms used by Instagram. Details on how the social media platform selects the most relevant posts to show its users have been teased as we continue to learn more about how we can use social media for professional means within the automotive industry.

Long-term Instagram fans will remember the drastic algorithm change introduced a couple of years ago – and the wide backlash it received. Originally, Instagram had a chronological feed. Under this system, posts were listed in time order, and it was crucial to know the optimal time of day to post for social media managers in order to optimise visibility of companies’ accounts. Early mornings, lunch times and evenings were generally regarded as the most important windows for maximum exposure.

Then, Instagram decided to ditch the chronological feed, instead rolling out an algorithm-based feed – in effect, allowing the complicated computer formula to decide what the platform’s users should see first. The selection process is now based on a finely honed criteria that is mostly determined by each user’s behaviours while logged into Instagram.


How Instagram’s algorithm works

Not everything revealed as part of the Facebook and Instagram algorithm analysis is ground-breaking. The news feed prioritisation process can be broken down into three key areas; interest, timeliness and relationship.

The first call is to judge how recently a user has engaged with similar content – weighing up the basic factors of how long a user engages with photo and video content for, before going into finer detail that even involves image recognition tools to assess the likelihood of interest from one account.

Many users complain that Instagram prioritises much older posts in a news feed, which has been addressed by code writers, but the platform uses this method to encourage timeliness of the visibility of posts. Specifically, certain posts will be pushed higher up the news feed during certain times based on their relevance to the typical running order of a day.

A major factor that most will have noticed is how the relationship between accounts affects likely prioritisation of posts. Basic considerations are how often users trade likes and comments, while more detailed analysis comes into play when factoring in how often private messages and image tags are exchanged.


Business can adapt to new technologies with social media

The visual nature of Instagram as a social media platform suggests that app developers will make use of visual recognition software in determining how high up a post should appear within a news feed. So, for businesses operating in the automotive industry, posting pictures of cars is more likely to get your product in front of car fans.

It goes deeper than this, though, and marketers should also note that there is no preferential treatment for businesses over personal users. Both must abide by the same rules and are treated equally, although users that pay to advertise will reap immediate benefits for improved visibility. Those using Instagram professionally should also note that there is no reach penalty for posting too often. As a counter-measure, the algorithm machine is set-up to disperse multi-posts between content from others to prevent one continuous stream of a user’s content.

Much as the new changes have been maligned, Instagram reports that users spend around three minutes per day more on the app than before the changes were introduced. For social media pros, that can only be encouraging news when businesses are vying for on-screen time and attention on social media platforms.


This story was written by automotive PR specialists Torque Agency Group.