8 Little Known Facts About Instagram Pictures, Filters, and Hashtags

Posted on February 9, 2015 by

Instagram is relatively young as a marketing channel, and that makes it exciting.

There are advantages to being an early adopter, but that also makes it hard to get ‘it’ right. Instagram best practices aren’t firmly established yet, and what’s working today isn’t widely known. It takes a little time to circulate.

We can speed the process up for you. Dan Zarrella of HubSpot made a very actionable infographic not long ago after analyzing 1.5 million pictures from 1 million users, and we’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down into 9 takeaways you can put to work right away. As usual, you can always scroll to the end for the full picture, too.

Here they are:


1. Add More Hashtags

There’s a direct, positive relationship between hashtags and Instagram engagement, likes and comments.

The more hashtags a photo has, the more visible it is, the more visible a photo is, the more likely somebody else will like and talk about it, and frankly, that’s why you’re on Instagram in the first place. Just be sure to limit the number of hashtags to 30; Instagram stops the party there.

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2.  Don’t Use Filters

As counterintuitive as it may seem, filters don’t work as well on Instagram for brand accounts.  So, when in doubt, pass on filters. You’d even do well to not use them at all.

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3.  Ask for Likes

Asking for comments, likes and contest entries works. You’ll probably get them anyway, but if you ask you’ll get more. Substantially more.

So, caption your photos with “like” before you publish next time. Calls-to-Action just work on Instagram.

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4. Drop  the Color Saturation

Looking for an easy way to more likes on Instagram? Just drop the saturation.

Desaturated photos don’t just look good, they get more likes too. In some cases, the difference between a heavily saturated and heavily desaturated photo can be almost 600%.

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5.  Put Faces in Your Photos

HubSpot ran a face detection algorithm and discovered something interesting. Photos that showed at least one face averaged more likes. 35% more.

It’s not surprising, either. We humans respond powerfully to faces – it’s generally what we pay the most attention to – and that manifests digitally as well.

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6. Add More Edges

Minimalism isn’t rewarded on Instagram. The busier your photos are – the more edges they have – the more they’re liked. Sparse photos don’t attract the same attention.

You want your photos to be busier – to a point. If you publish something so convoluted nobody quite knows what it is then you’ve gone too far, but you’ll still do better than a barren landscape. Excessively busy photos outperform the other end of the spectrum.


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7. Go for Cooler Colors

While fiery colors might work elsewhere – McDonald uses a yellow and red palette for a reason – they don’t perform well on Instagram. There, cooler colors are the order of they day. They get more likes.

So, give priority to grays, blues, and greens. Stay muted. It’s good for business.


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8.  Brighten  Your Photos

While desaturated, cool-toned photos are important, try not to be too dark. Actually, be light. Very light.

The brightest pictures attract the most likes. As you move the other way on the luminance spectrum, you lose activity. The difference is striking. The brightest pictures get 592% more likes than the darkest ones.

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While Instagram isn’t on the same level as Facebook or Twitter, it’s becoming more important by the day. The upward mobility is there.

Have you taken the plunge? if you’re an early adopter – let us know. Do these strategies work for you? Tell us in the comments section below!


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Nicholas is a copywriter and marketer, with a particularly strong interest in the digital space. He prefers his content driven by ROI and his steak well-marbled and rare.