Likes on Instagram: The Ultimate Image Recipe


According to a North Carolina State University research group, applying the appropriate filter on Instagram increases the number of “likes” attributed to a photograph by roughly 3%.

The essential Instagram guidelines are obvious; be a household name or merely have a large following—and include humorous content.  You’re golden!

But what if researchers at North Carolina State University only looked at the photographs without regard to follower counts or clever captions? Can users get more likes by uploading specific photos?

The research team created a computer program that scanned 147,963 Instagram photos and computed ratings based on six visual attributes associated with high user engagement. 

Simply put, understanding social media photos and customer liking is not easy. Ultimately, the researchers chose two rules to represent yin and yang: Achieve a Goldilocks-like balance of light and color and make the image either exceedingly simple or highly complicated.

Color complexity: Less is more when it comes to color richness in an image.

Luminance Entropy: Understanding the image’s brightness intensity—the higher brightness, the better!

Count Unique Objects: Fewer items in the frame are better than more.  More white space, right?

Density of Edges: The ideal image will have a ratio of edges to non-edges that is almost perfect. Imagine a massive flag outside a windowed building as an example.

Object Arrangement Irregularity: The more irregular the visual, the more likes. Consider a brick wall vs. a graffiti wall. Simplicity can also be liked.

Asymmetry in Asset Arrangement: The most like-getting trait? How much vertical and horizontal symmetry an image has. Interesting!

Using the right filter can expand the number of likes on a photograph by around 3%. Additionally, optimizing feature and design complexity could boost consumer engagement by 19%.  Some food for thought as you continue to explore the world of Instagram.

A more detailed version of this article was originally published on Fast Company which you can access here.



About Author

Barb has worked within the digital advertising and marketing space for over 20 years. Over the years, she found it difficult to find information on the simplest of subjects tied to the digital marketing space, so she decided to embark on a journey to create a space that others may appreciate.

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