Why So Sad? Curalate Study Finds Instagram Images With Blue Hues Win More Likes

Curalate Logo Nov 2013After analyzing over 30 image features of eight million Instagram photos, visual analytics provider Curalate found images with blue hues received 24 percent more Likes than photos with predominantly red hues on the photo-sharing platform.

Scheduled to be released next week, Curalate’s Instagram study also discovered single-colored images were more popular than images with multiple colors, winning 17 percent more Likes. The Instagram study results were much different than the findings from Curalate’s earlier Pinterest study that found, among other things, red images were more likely to be repinned than blue images on Pinterest boards.

“We noticed this too and thought it was pretty interesting,” said Curalate CEO Apu Gupta, “Becoming a more visual-centric marketer is still in its infancy. Instagram and Pinterest are relatively young platforms and it’s clear the way people engage with these platforms is different.”

Curalate Instagram Study Dominant Color

Beyond color, Curalate discovered images with a high amount of lightness garnered 24 percent more likes than dark images, and low saturation images received 18 percent more Likes than photos with “vibrant colors.”

Curalate Instagram Study Saturation

Other image features impacting whether or not an Instagram image received a Like included background and texture, with images that had a high amount of background winning 29 percent more likes than those without backgrounds. Images with texture won 79 percent more likes.

“Likes on Instagram, while incredibly valuable, are hard to come by with 65 percent of Instagram images garnering between zero and ten likes,” said Gupta.

Curalate Instagram Study Texture

According Curalate’s research:

To generate consumer interest, images should allow the eye to rest by having some background space. Images with a large amount of background space (above 90 percent) are very successful. Despite this, 70 percent of current Instagram images only have 0-20 percent background space, leaving significant room for improvement.

As far as the further differences between what works on Instagram versus Pinterest, Curalate’s research found Pinterest images with less than 10 percent background won two to four times more repins than images with a high amount of background, unlike Instagram where images with more background were more popular.

Also, Pinterest images with 50 percent saturation or more received ten times the number of repins than desaturated images, while Instagram images with low saturation earned more Likes.

“I suspect that this is probably reflective of the way people use these platforms,” said Gupta on the differences between Instagram and Pinterest, “Instagram is about documenting and celebrating experiences. It’s no surprise that a lot of those experiences happen when you are out and about – think blue sky, blue ocean. Pinterest is much more about discovery and inspiration. A lot of what Pinterest users are interacting with are professional photos shot by brands (not users), and frequently those photos represent things (e.g. clothes) and those things are on people.”

On the differences between the popularity of blue and red hued images on Instagram and Pinterest, Gupta noted that flesh tones register on the reddish scale. He went on to explain, “It’s also possible that Instagram’s filters are washing out some of the tones that would have been considered reddish which may have obscured the data.”

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook: Instagram | Pinterest: Analytics | Social Media Marketing | Statistics: Online Behavior | Statistics: Social Media | Top News

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About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • http://chuckreynolds.us/ Chuck Reynolds

    “and low saturation images received 18 percent more Likes than photos with low saturation” huh?

  • http://www.marketingland.com/ Amy Gesenhues

    My bad, it should have read: “…and low saturation images received 18 percent more Likes than photos with “vibrant colors.”

    Thanks for the heads up.

  • http://chuckreynolds.us/ Chuck Reynolds

    yup. that sounds better :) no problem. cheers

  • http://www.referralcandy.com/ ReferralCandy

    It’s really interesting how different the results for Pinterest and Instagram are, especially as they seem to have opposite effects on several items like reddish versus blueish hues.

    Fascinating! Finding out how and why the differences exists between the two platforms would be immensely helpful for marketers! In the meantime, we can enjoy and work on applying useful tips like having more red in Pinterest and blue hues in Instagram, haha.

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