It’s very easy to fall in love with Instagram, if you’re not already on the bandwagon. You get to express your artistry through beautifully filtered square images and you get to enjoy feedback from other users in the community. Don’t lie, you want the Likes as much as anyone else does.
To figure out exactly what drives social engagement on the photo-sharing site, visual analytics and marketing platform Curalate studied over eight million Instagram posts using custom algorithms that analyze over 30 image specifications – background ratio, dominant color, lightness, and saturation, among others – and how all of them combined produce a high-quality Instagram image worthy of Likes.
Some of Curalate’s findings are that the most popular Instagram images include tons of background space and high levels of texture. However, the most interesting of all is the discovery that pictures that have blue as the dominant color are considered Instagram gold.
The bluer, the better
According to the case study, Mostly-blue images receive 24 percent more likes than photos with high concentrations of reds and oranges. This actually makes a lot of sense, considering that red is commonly associated with immense passion, and that can easily translate to extreme agitation. Blue, on the other hand, is calm, peaceful, and relaxing, which bodes well for users who habitually check their Instagram feeds to blow off some steam from a highly stressful day.
In terms of color composition, Instagram photos that have single hue dominance perform really well, especially those that have more than 40 percent of the same color. Although this is true, 90 percent of the Instagram images Curalate examined only have less then 20 percent single hue dominance.
And while bright and bold colors capture a lot of attention in real life, on Instagram, images with 0 to 15 percent saturation (or little color) produce 18 percent more likes than vibrant images, which have 20-40 percent saturation.
What else can make or break your Instagram photo?
Background space actually has a lot to contribute to a photo’s likeability because it gives the eyes ample rest time while looking at the picture. Curalate has found that images that feature over 90 percent of background space tend to have larger audiences on Instagram. However, 70 percent of images they analyzed yielded less than 20 percent background space.
Instagram has a lot of love to give for clear, well-lit imagery – people generally want to know what they are looking at, so naturally dark images are low on like count. Images with 65-80 percent lighting receive 24 percent more likes than dark photos that have less than 45 percent lighting.
Finally, adding textures to your Instagram shots will prove beneficial in your quest for popularity on the site, as photos that have them in high levels retrieve 78 percent more likes than those that have hardly any.
Clearly, if you want to receive a bunch of likes for your posts regularly, you may need basic photo composition lessons. But it seems like Curalate’s research are geared toward serving the business sector, whose members may deem “likes” as a special type of currency. While the first Instagram ad has proven to be successful in its first week, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. According to Curalate’s CEO Apu Gupta, Likes are actually hard to come by on Instagram – 65 percent of images on the site only receive somewhere between 0 and 10 likes. “By making a few small tweaks, brands looking to connect with consumers on visual sites like Instagram can see their engagement skyrocket, resulting in increased customer loyalty and more importantly, sales.”