Study reveals secret of getting more likes on Instagram (and it’s not using filters)

Rob Waugh
Young happy man taking selfie and showing peace gesture at Times Square, New York City, USA
It's not about adding filters (Getty)

Pouting social media users are wasting their time adding filters and stickers to their selfies, a new study has suggested.

When it comes to harvesting ‘Likes’ from your audience, stickers and filters are ineffective compared to selfies which show off details of users’ real lives.

Selfies containing visual cues about users’ jobs and wealth were more likely to get ‘Likes’ on Instagram, Rowan University researchers found.

Lead author Dr Seoyeon Hong said: 'The number of likes was lower for selfies posted with filters, such as stickers or excessive use of colour filters compared to selfies without such filters.


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'Studies in self-presentations suggest excessive intent toward others to only think positively of an individual's self-image may trigger reluctance to engage'.

Instead, the researchers found, by analysing 1,873 selfies, that the most effective selfies tend to be those showing details about the poster’s life, the Daily Mail reported.

Dr Hong said: 'When selfies included social cues of the selfie-taker, it had more likes in comparison to selfies without any social cues of the individuals.

'The results indicate selfies providing additional information about the individuals in the form of social cues, such as professional identity or status of wealth, may be perceived as further intention to engage with other social media users.'

Research has suggested that Instagram may become a bigger source of ‘fake news’ than its sibling service Facebook.

A report by NYU's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights suggested that memes on Instagram could be a bigger threat than ‘fake news’ on Facebook in America’s upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp and has more than 1.5 billion daily users, has a huge influence in many countries and has been criticised for allowing misleading posts and so-called ‘fake news’ on its service.

But as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny, Instagram could become a vehicle for fake news, the report suggests.

It warns that the Russian Internet Research Agency actually had more engagement on the photo app during the last election.

The report said: ‘Instagram, more than its parent Facebook, will be the vehicle of choice, for people who wish to disseminate meme-based disinformation.

‘Deepfakes threaten to cloud reality at a time when the existence of objective facts has increasingly been called into question.’