The science of Instagram

September 19, 2016

Whether you are on Instagram or just thinking of exploring it, we have some tips to share! For these we thank Dan Zarrella, social media scientist and author of a study on “The Science of Instagram.” In this study of almost 1.5 million Instagram photos from half a million users, Zarrella reveals what types of images generated “likes,” by breaking down the science of popular Instagram filters. We summarize his findings here:

  • Take advantage of tags: There are 30 tags allowed for every image on Instagram. According to Zarrella’s research, the more tags on an image, the more likes it receives. (This is contrary to the research we’ve seen on Twitter where we would recommend just using one or two hashtags.) On Instagram, don’t be afraid of using tags to your allotted capacity!
  • Know the power of “no filter:” Interestingly, the best filter out there seems to be the one that presents an image in its organic setting. Zarrella’s findings show us that the images with the “no filter” setting receive the highest amount of likes among those in the “above average” category for likes received.
  • Include the words “like” or “comment” in the caption: Images that have these specifics lead to more likes and comments, not surprisingly. Images with the word “like” as a tag received an 89% increase over the images that do not, and those including the word “comment” received a 2,194% increase. That’s a big jump!
  • Demonstrate desaturation: Images with more color desaturation tend to receive more likes. Keep it simple, and you’ll be part of the 598% increase with more likes as a compliment to your desaturated images.
  • Have your images include a face whenever you can: Through the use of algorithmic research, Zarrella found that images having at least one face in it lead to more likes. In fact, there’s a 35% increase for those that do!
  • Get busy giving your images “edginess:” The more edges in an image, the busier it is. According to Zarrella’s research, images with more edges received 125% more likes than those with fewer edges.
  • Stick to grey, green, and blue hues: These cooler colors are winners in the Instagram world. According to the findings, images that have grey, green, and blues hues get more likes than those with warmer hues, like yellow, orange, and pink.
  • Be bright: Apply luminance, or brightness, to your images. These images tend to receive more likes than those without.

Keep these tips in mind and grab more people’s attention with your photos, and hopefully attract more followers along the way!

— Rachel Dobson, former intern