A study has found that the key to attracting comments and engagement on the image-sharing social network is to upload photographs of people, not places.
The selfie is here to stay. Well that's according to the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs researchers anyway.
They've just announced the conclusions of a study that examined 1.1 million photos on Instagram and the biggest finding is that despite the infinite number of potential subjects for a smartphone-snapped photo, pictures featuring human faces, and not cats or dogs, generate the biggest positive response.
In fact, if an image features a person's face it is 38 percent more likely to be liked and 32 percent more likely to attract comments.
Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't matter whose face or how many of them are in shot. The research shows that neither age nor gender made a difference to how other users on the image-sharing social network responded, and this is despite the fact that we're genetically engineered to find children "cute" and "adorable'"and that as the researchers point out, Instagram is more popular with younger people.
In fact, the only real deciding factor was image overload. Instagram users with more followers will generate more engagement, but if they post too much or too often, others stop interacting.
"The more you post, the less feedback you're going to get," said Saeideh Bakhshi, the Georgia Tech College of Computing PhD student who led the study. "Posting too much decreases likes two times faster than comments."
Although the study doesn't attempt to present a reason as to why faces are so popular, the researchers are confident that their findings will have a big impact on how image-led sites and even brands increase engagement with users.
The team used face detection software to scan each of the 1.1 million images in the study and now intendeds to drill deeper into its findings to try to see if selfies generate more engagement than group shots and if images of friends are more popular than images of family.
However, that's the future; the next step is to present the paper "Faces Engage Us: Photos with Faces Attract More Likes and Comments on Instagram," in Toronto at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems in April.