Your face drives engagement.
It's really that simple. Your Instagram photos (and possibly your Facebook photos too) are going to be much more popular if they prominently feature one crucial element–a human face.
The Georgia Institute of Technology teamed up with Yahoo Labs and looked at 1.1 million Instagram photos to find that out. Instagram photos that featured a human face were 38% more likely to receive likes than photos without faces. Not only that, but they're 32% more likely to receive comments as well. No guarantee on what type of comments, however.
And there's this:
The researchers also found that the number of faces in the photo, their age or gender didn’t make a difference. On average, pictures of kids or teens aren’t any more popular than those of adults, even though Instagram is most popular among younger people. The study also noticed that men and women have the same chances of getting likes or comments.
So, any old face will do. If you're hard up for likes, it doesn't matter if you're an ugly man or a beautiful woman–just take a selfie.
This study has implications that reach further than just your average person looking for internet gratification. Brands looking to boost engagement on various social media channels should take note–include more faces in your photos.
“Even as babies, people love to look at faces,” said Bakhshi. “Faces are powerful channels of non-verbal communication. We constantly monitor them for a variety of contexts, including attractiveness, emotions and identity," said Saeideh Bakhshi, the Georgia Tech Ph.D. student who authored the study.
Yeah, we like faces. We like them more than food, sunsets, and cats. Actually, I'm not too sure about the cats thing.
Not mentioned in the study: how your boobs affect social media likes.
Image via Katy Perry, Instagram