Experiment: Do Photographs With Individuals Carry out Higher on Instagram?

Regardless of how religiously you comply with updates to the Instagram algorithm, getting your posts in entrance of individuals isn’t going to do you a lot good in the event that they don’t truly like what they’re seeing.

Social media is finally for individuals, not robots — which suggests getting true engagement requires interesting to what individuals like.

We already know that visually lovely or attention-grabbing content material performs finest right here. (You’ve been attempting out our methods for taking and enhancing good Instagram photographs, proper?)

However past composition or graphic design, is there a kind of photograph that folks like extra?

Nicely, the hunch of many a social media supervisor is that photos of individuals carry out higher than these with out. (Sorry, panorama photogs.)

However why depend on a intestine intuition, when we’ve an entire particular column right here on the Hootsuite weblog devoted to scrupulously testing these suspicions?

It’s time to place a concept to the take a look at with a deep analytical dive, and a bit trial and error. (My dad at all times needed me to be a physician, however I’m certain being an unauthorized Instagram scientist is the following smartest thing.)

Does placing your finest face ahead yield higher outcomes? Let’s discover out.

Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and begin creating fantastically designed content material to your feed now.

Speculation: Photographs with individuals carry out higher on Instagram

Widespread sense is driving this speculation. Opposite to what normal web tradition and human habits would possibly lead you to imagine, individuals love individuals.

There’s a pattern that occurs close to the top of a calendar 12 months, the place individuals run their Instagram accounts by way of a “High 9” generator (right here’s one; right here’s one other). The generator pulls their hottest posts from the 12 months right into a grid. Anecdotally, these 9 pics are virtually at all times face-focused… whether or not you’re my improv coach or Taylor Swift.

Supply: BestNine

Historical past says we’re obsessive about faces

The publishing trade already is aware of that we’re obsessive about faces. There’s a cause why 90% of the covers on any given newsstand have faces on them.

Our brains even see faces the place there aren’t any, that’s how a lot we love them. Paper, digital or within the flesh, we see a pair of eyes and subconsciously suppose: “Good friend!”

…and social science appears to agree

Again in 2014 (a technology in the past, in social media years), researchers from Georgia Tech checked out 1.1 million photographs on Instagram and located that photos of faces have been 38% extra prone to get a like than photographs with out faces. Face photographs additionally have been 32% extra prone to snag a remark, too.

The identical analysis found that age, gender, and the variety of faces didn’t make a lot of a distinction. If there’s a face (or two, or 10), irrespective of whose it’s, we’re simply inclined to double faucet.

I’m going to check this concept right here in 2021 — albeit with a much smaller pattern measurement — by doing my very own face-versus-no-face comparability. Let’s see simply the way it stacks up.


It appeared to me that one of the simplest ways to check if faces get engagement, could be to look again at my Instagram account and see whether or not photographs with or with out faces received extra engagement, as measured by likes and feedback. So easy it’s genius? Thanks.

In fact, testing this alone private account alone, the place my face is clearly beloved by a biased group of followers (e.g. my mother) wouldn’t be sufficient knowledge.

Fortunately, I simply so occur to have the digital keys to the Instagram account of an area weddings journal (upon which I’ve experimented on earlier than — don’t inform my boss!), so I made a decision to additionally observe how a bigger pool of followers (10,000+) reacted to face versus non-face photographs.

(One other distinction from my private account: on @RealWeddings, we submit all kinds of faces which will haven’t any private which means or connection to the viewers.)

To ensure we had a large pool of samples to tug from, I seemed again at every account’s posts from the 12 months 2020 and reviewed the highest 20 posts of the 12 months.


TL;DR: Faces don’t truly appear to have a selected benefit on Instagram. Content material that aligns together with your model and what your viewers loves does finest, face or no face.

On my private account, I admittedly didn’t submit a lot in 2020. However right here’s the breakdown of my prime 20 most preferred and the highest 20 most commented photographs.

top 20 most liked and commented photos on personal accounttop 20 most liked and commented photos on personal account

Most-liked photographs

16 out of 20 featured individuals (80%)
three out of 20 have been illustrations (15%)
1 was a couple of cute patio makeover… who may resist? (zero.5%)

most liked photos people illustrations and patiomost liked photos people illustrations and patio

Most-commented photographs

11 out of 20 featured individuals (55%)
6 out of 20 have been illustrations (30%)
1 out of 20 was a meals photograph (peaches, if you happen to’re curious) (zero.5%)
1 out of 20 was a panorama photograph (zero.5%)
1 out of 20 was my cute patio makeover once more — HGTV, name me! (zero.5%)

Over on our wedding ceremony journal account, right here’s the breakdown.

wedding magazine most commented photoswedding magazine most commented photos

Most-liked photographs

15 out of 20 featured individuals (75%)
5 out of 20 featured venues (25%)

most liked photos people and venuesmost liked photos people and venues

Most-commented photographs

15 out of 20 featured individuals (75%)
5 out of 20 featured venues (25%)

To date, it looks as if faces take the cake. However right here’s the factor: these numbers occur to align fairly neatly with the quantity of faces content material both account is posting general.

Are faces actually extra participating than non-face content material? Or is it simply extra probably that you simply’ll have extra faces in your prime posts if you happen to submit faces extra usually?

After I take a look at a couple of different accounts I’ve entry to (I’m a busy lady in media and comedy who craves consideration! I put on plenty of hats!) that don’t submit as many photographs of faces, the numbers dip fairly proportionally.

Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and begin creating fantastically designed content material to your feed now.

Get the templates now!

For @VanMag_com (a Vancouver metropolis journal the place I work as an editor at giant) we see about 40% of the most-liked posts have individuals… however actually, solely about 40% of the posts on the whole characteristic individuals. (Meals is the actual star right here — take a look at our Restaurant Awards!)

@VanMag_com 40 percent photos with people@VanMag_com 40 percent photos with people

For @WesternLiving (one other publication I work for), we see simply 20% of the most-liked posts with individuals in them. The main focus for this model, although, is properties and design, so 80% of its content material, on the whole, is glamor photographs of inside design or structure.

@WesternLiving 10 percent photos with people@WesternLiving 10 percent photos with people

And one ultimate instance is @NastyWomenComedy, an all-women comedy trope I’m a part of. Whereas a whopping 100% of our most-liked posts have faces… 100% of our content material features a face (or 10). Is it genius advertising and marketing or are we obsessive about ourselves? Solely you may resolve.

@NastyWomenComedy 100 percent photos with people@NastyWomenComedy 100 percent photos with people

What do the outcomes imply?

I used to be truthfully anticipating faces to blow all different content material out of the water.

However reflecting on all of this, I believe the frequent thread throughout all of those prime posts is that they mirror every particular person model’s particular content material area of interest — face or no face.

Creating constant content material that aligns together with your model is what drives engagement.

You don’t must plan psychological methods to get likes and feedback: simply do what you do finest, authentically and with which means — whether or not that’s sharing a stunning restaurant evaluation, or displaying off a patio makeover you’re pleased with. (The key? Astroturf.)

However, in fact, this was a small-scale investigation. It additionally didn’t keep in mind what time or day any of these items have been posted. So conduct your individual experiments and A/B testing (check out Hootsuite’s scheduling device!) to find what your individual viewers likes finest — and don’t neglect to Tweet at us with the outcomes.

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