The Science Behind An Impressionable Photo on Instagram


Have you ever felt that getting the ball rolling on a brand or business Instagram identity can be tough? For many marketers, it’s an intimidating platform to add to their already full plates…


Sure, using a handful of hashtags can amplify visibility and get a photo to show up in search results, but that’s only half the battle. Getting Instagrammers to click on an image among thousands of similar others from the Instagram “Explore” screen requires some strategy.

The science behind marketing and appealing to human senses has been studied in college lecture halls and discussed tirelessly in office conference rooms since, well, the beginning of marketing.


We know that with the pervasive amount of advertising people are exposed to each day getting visual content noticed can be a challenge.


There is however, some incredible new research that outlines the different traits that make Instagram pictures more noticeable and sharable.


Without further backstory, let’s dive in to the six traits that can make your Instagram posts thrive!


How to Make “Pixel Perfect” Instagram Images 

Some of that research was conducted by Curalate, a visual analytics and marketing company. Curalate used custom image-analysis algorithms to look at 30 different image characteristics across 8,000,000 Instagram photos.


The study’s major findings represent the following six image features and their correlation with Instagram likes.

1. Lightness– Images with high amounts of light received 24% more likes than dark images.


Topo Designs used this bright, sunny photo to appeal to their outdoorsy audience and get Instagrammers stoked about winter:

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2. Amount of Background Space– Images with a lot of background space received 29% more likes than those without much background.


Levi’s leveraged an iconic image in the background while featuring product and lifestyle in the foreground:

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3. Dominant Color– Images dominated by the color blue received 24% more likes than images dominated by the color red.


Why so blue, PrAna?

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4. Number of Colors– Images with just one dominant color received 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.


Olomomo Nut Company used single color dominance to show off this (super legit) breakfast idea:

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5. Saturation– Images with lower saturation levels received 18% more likes than images with vibrant colors.


The Bitter Bar likes to keep their photos simple and classic, just like their business.

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6. Texture– Images with a lot of texture received 79% more like than those without. (Let’s take a moment and appreciate that huge jump in likes based on texture!)


A great example of National Geographic’s use of photo texture:

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Achieve These Features Right From Your Mobile Device

It goes without saying that being creative with your Instagram content is the best way to score a cherished “Double Tap.” But for those of us new to the game, using the Instagram application’s editing tools can help us achieve some of the characteristics above quickly and easily.


  • Lightness– Use the “Brightness,” “Highlights,” and “Shadows” editing tools to eliminate dark shadowing and make your Instagrams stand out:

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  • Saturation– Use the “Saturation” editing tool to control the vibrancy in photo color:

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  • Texture- Use the “Lux” editing feature to enhance photo texture and detail:

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Have an Instagram marketing tip or question? Let’s chat in the comments section or reach out to me at


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