Did you just fall in love with the image above? There’s a good reason for that. There seems to be a lot of mystery around knowing which images will gain attention and garner more “likes” on your social media channels. Some images will get liked right away while others will gain the same number of likes but over a much longer period of time. Is it by chance or is there actual science behind knowing which images will gain popularity? Turns out, there is!
We recently came across a very intriguing paper released by MIT stating various graphs and figures using a base of approximately 2.3 million images used in a study to find out what exactly made an image popular. The findings are a gold mine of insight and a very helpful tool for growing your social following. Here are 4 key elements observed in their findings which I have combined with other findings:
4 keys to posting images that will win your audience and gain you more “likes” and a good chance, more followers!
1. Warm colours win
Turns out colour does matter, it really matters, in fact. Most marketers will tell you that it’s well known when marketing to men that you use higher contrast and darker tones to attract the majority whereas with women, they tend to prefer, in most cases, far more softer and lighter colours, such as pastels. Obviously this isn’t the case with all people but on average, these are confirmed facts. Take a look on any popular wedding Instagram account and you’ll see that the vast majority of images are in this soft tone.
According to the study findings at MIT, people tend to favour colours that have warmer tones with rose-magenta being the highest. No surprise then that we are so enamoured with the colours of a sunset. The other favoured colours are warm yellow/greens, purples, reds, golds (sun-flares) and then aquas (why we flock to the aquamarine waters of the tropics).
2. Water, water, water
There’s no denying that we spend thousands of dollars a year to travel to water-front tropical destinations and according to the study, seashore, lakeside, sandbars, valleys and volcanos were the highest rated natural elements in images which garnered high interactions on social media.
3. Objects of desire
I wouldn’t think an image of a dirty old plunger would ever beat-out a darling little puppy or the big wide-eyed gaze of a 6 week old kitten, and neither would you. Have objects that elicit positive and warm feelings to win the majority of the time over objects that cause negative or stressful feelings. For instance, a few of the lowest ranking objects were a laptop, plunger and a spatula. Avoid objects that will make the viewer think about work or unpleasant tasks.
4. Well-lit and well placed
Knowing a few simple rules of composition can drastically improve your post interactions. The study showed that images that were not properly lit, underexposed or poorly composed did not rank high on interactions.
One simple tip is to turn on your camera’s “grid mode”, the tic-tac-toe grid that appears in your viewfinder. Use this grid to place your subject in the cross-hairs of the grid. The most powerful spot being the upper left cross section. Placing your object directly in the centre can work and look appealing if it shows off symmetry or makes a point using the white space around it.
Make sure to capture the subject in good light and if it looks too dim on your camera, take the shot again or edit to increase the exposure.
We did our own test, using these tips, over a period of about a month and lo and behold, they worked! The images we posted containing these elements (warm tones, sun-flare, sunsets, soft warm tones, water and positive objects) were rewarded with a higher like count and quicker interactions. We also saw an increase in followers after these posts.
Try your own experiment using these 4 key elements and see how they compare with the frequency of interactions for your previous posts. Take note of the added element that sends you posts even higher and keep posting those. Share your findings in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.