Corporate Eye

Instagram Tips for Brand Marketers

selfie smartphone instagramDo you use Instagram for brand marketing? While it’s not the top social media tool used for marketing, it can be very effective in building brand awareness, communicating brand experiences, and developing brand perceptions among consumers.

Recently, Dan Zarrella of Hubspot conducted a study to try to determine how to get more followers and likes on Instagram. Brand marketers, listen up. There is some really useful information in the data.

Zarrella studied nearly 1.5 million images from more than 500,000 Instagram users to come up with his conclusions. You can see the details in the infographic at the end of this article. Here are the highlights that should help you improve your brand marketing results on Instagram:

1. More Hashtags Lead to More Engagement

The study found that as the number of hashtags used in an Instagram photo posting went up, so did the number of likes and comments. The lesson for brand marketers is to use more hashtags on Instagram.

2. Fewer Filters Lead to More Engagement

The data showed that photos on Instagram that use no filter effects get the most likes, follows, and comments. The lesson for brand marketers is to stop using filters on Instagram.

3. Stronger Calls to Action Lead to More Engagement

Here the data gets really compelling. Instagram photos with the word “like” in the caption got 89% more likes. Photos with the word “comment” in the caption got 2,194% more comments. The lesson for marketers is simple. Remind your audience to like and comment on your Instagram photos within every caption.

4. Colors Lead to More Engagement

The research found that photos which are desaturated (meaning the colors are very dull and washed out) get fewer comments and likes. In fact, highly saturated photos got 598% more likes than desaturated photos. Furthermore, photos that have higher levels of luminance (meaning they’re brighter), get 592% more likes than dark photos. That’s not all. The data also revealed that photos dominated by cool colors like blue, green, and gray got more likes than those dominated by warm colors like yellow, orange, and red. The lesson to brand marketers is to embrace bright colors on Instagram but stay cool.

5. Faces and “Busy-ness” Lead to More Engagement

The research corroborates what most other marketing research has found for decades. Images with people’s faces in them lead to higher levels of engagement. In this study, Zarrella found that the number of likes increases by 35% when faces are included in images. In addition, busy photos got higher levels of engagement than stark photos. Zarrella analyzed the number of edges in photos and found that images with more edges (i.e., more stuff in the photo that makes it busier) got 125% more likes than very simple and stark photos. The lesson for marketers is to avoid going minimalist on Instagram, and be sure to takes lots of pictures of people. Instagram is the one place where selfies are not only accepted, but they’re also expected.

instagram likes and followers infographic

Image: Rob Owen-Wahl

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
Catherine Marshall

Those are very interesting finds relating to Instagram. The thing with instagram is to make sure you’re updating photos consistently of you might lose the audience’s interesting. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

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