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How to get more Instagram likes and comments: new study

(Social Media) We all know how big brands get likes and comments, but how does the average user garner more visibility on Instagram?

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Long live Instagram!

In the world of social media, the status of our popularity lives and dies by likes and comments. Such is the case for the photo-sharing app, Instagram. For those unfamiliar with the app, it is a basic concept of uploading a square photo to your account and adding a filter to make the image, sometimes, more appealing. While it may sound simplistic and self-serving, the app has taken the social media world by storm and is especially popular with young generations.

The app, created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, took a note from Twitter in the sense that it allows users to connect with the more “elite”; i.e. actors, musicians, athletes, etc. These individuals have an automatic in to likes and comments on their photos due to the fact that they are well-known personalities who, as we all know, have fan bases.

So how do Average Joe Instagram users gain likes and comments?

Dan Zarrella investigated this question in his infographic below, titled “The Science of Instagram,” and what he found on the subject may be bits of gold knowledge for avid Instagram users who are looking to heighten their popularity status.

Zarrella’s study tracked more than a million photos to learn about the rise and fall of likes and comments. His first find was that the more tags you include in a photo, the more likes and comments you are likely to get. Say for example you have a photo with a group of friends. When uploading the photo, you are able to attach their user names to said photo. This allows them to be notified and also increases the likelihood that they will like or comment on the photo. Not only that, when other users are viewing your friend’s page, they can see their tagged photos and are then able to like as well. You can include up to 30 tags in one photo, and you are not limited to tagging only those present in the photo. You can also tag your location (for example the Art Institute of Chicago) and your photo will be available to anyone who searches that location.

Trick: Use the word “like” or “comment” in your caption

When uploading a photo you are also able to include a caption. The study has found that if you write the words “like” or “comment” in your caption, you are more likely to receive a like or comment. Whether it is explicitly stated (“Comment on this photo and I will follow you back”) or is stated indirectly (“I really like this time of year), other users will be inclined to like or comment on the photo because their brains have been exposed to the Instagram terminology. The study found that with the inclusion of these words, there was an 89% increase in the like-like category, and a 2,194% increase in the comment-comment category.

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The quality of the photo is something that plays a role in receiving likes and comments. The study found that desaturated photos tend to receive more attention than photos that are saturated. There was a 598% difference in likes in desatured versus saturated. This may be due to the fact that, while saturated photos grab your attention, they are not always easy on the eyes unlike desatured photos, which are more calming to look at. While on the subject of pleasing the eye, it was also found that cool colors tend to get more likes and comments as opposed to warm colors. And while saturation may not be your best friend, brightness certainly is. It was found that brighter photos attract more likes and comments versus photos that are darker.

A big part of Instagram is the use of filters

Filters are something you can add to your photo in order to change the look of the photo. There are filters to add brightness, saturation, desaturation or even the classic black and white filter. It may be surprising to learn that, while filters are a popular part of Instagram, they may not necessarily be doing you any favors. The study reported that the best filter you can have is the “Normal” filter, which is just posting what the photo looks like without a touch-up. The “Normal” filter came in first in terms of photos receiving the most likes and comments. The three filters that followed in popularity were “Willow”, “Valencia”, and “Sierra”, respectively. The rest of the filters were ranked under a category marked “average” as far as the numbers of likes and comments.

Lastly, as you may imagine, the content of the photo is a determinant of likes and comments. Photos that include faces are more popular than photos containing just scenery or objects. Whether it is a selfie or a group photo, it appears that faces attract more attention as there is a 35% increase in likes for photos with faces as opposed to photos with no faces. In addition, photos that tend to be busier are also more likely to grab a users’ attention. In an effort to analyze “busyness” Zarrella measured the edges within a photo and found that more edges equals more likes and comments.

Instagram is a social media freight train that shows no signs of slowing down. With its popularity being linked to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, it seems as though this photo-sharing app is something that will be apart of the Internet for quite some time. In order to achieve the best results while using Instagram, post photos that are tagged, properly colored and filtered, and filled with faces and edges. When following these steps, you will be up to your knees in likes and comments.

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Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

Social Media

Instagram for Kids: Do kids really need social media that young?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram for Kids is a terrible idea that we’ll have to contend in the not-so-distant future as social media becomes more prevalent in our lives.

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Young girl playing phone, exploring Instagram for Kids

As a Facebook company, Instagram is used to pushing the envelope, and not always in a good way. One of their most recent initiatives, dubbed “Instagram for Kids”, offers pre-teens the opportunity to use a parent-controlled Instagram version—but global criticism is already mounting.

Instagram has a 13-and-up policy that restricts pre-teen kids from signing up for the app (in theory), but Instagram for Kids would allow younger users to share and interact with photos without the pressure of ads and inappropriate content (again, in theory). The goal behind a social media app for 12-and-unders is curious, given that acceptable teen social media use already starts at, arguably, a younger age than is responsible.

According to Instagram, though, their motivation for the app is simply to reduce access to harmful aspects of the web without instilling FOMO in younger children: “Kids are already online, and want to connect with their family and friends, have fun, and learn. We want to help them do that in a safe and age-appropriate way, and find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps.”

Instagram also promises to “consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform [the app experience].”

That’s all fine in—and I cannot stress this enough—theory, but several members of the original internal discussion about this version of Instagram acknowledged that existing Instagram users who are under the age of 13 probably won’t switch over to the new platform, making Instagram for Kids obsolete for any illicit users. That leaves only one conclusion: That Instagram for Kids is for a substantially younger audience.

It’s difficult to find a morally upright justification for creating a social media app for, say, 8-year-olds. Parent control or not, the potential for data collection, early technology addiction, and breaches of privacy is very real. Add to that the fact that the children who are likely targeted by this app can’t exactly give informed consent for their information to be shared (not that 13-year-olds can, either, but that’s a different thing), and it starts to look pretty shady.

Instagram is already tangentially responsible for things like false marketing, eating disorders, and mental health decline in otherwise healthy adults. Adding pre-teens to that list is not only irresponsible—it’s morally bankrupt. Please keep your kids off of apps like this.

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Social Media

Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?

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Phone camera on stand in foreground with two women filming for TikTok or Instagram reels in the background

If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.

In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?

In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?

Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?

My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.

Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).

Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.

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How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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