Instagram is the best tool for online marketing. According to Forrester, engagement – measured by likes, shares and comments – is at 4.21%. That’s 10 times higher than Facebook and 84 times higher than Twitter.
It’s safe to say Instagram is too big to ignore.
In this article, we have compiled 15 actionable tips that will help you get more Instagram likes, backed by data. This article is for both influencers and brands who want to step up their Instagram game.
1. Tell a good story
As humans, we love a good story. Instead of pushing products with canned branded content, tell a great story and then slip in the product. In fact, don’t even mention the product at all!
Good influencers are able to maintain a consistent image on Instagram about their life. Post stories of you eating good food, going wakeboarding or going on a nice vacation and the likes will come!
All the tips below are really just ways to help you tell better stories.
Look at examples of how Red Bull posts great stories around action and extreme sports.
2. Put faces in your photos
Humans are social animals and we love seeing our friends’ faces.
Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs researchers looked at 1.1 million photos on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.
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.
3. Write a good caption
A good caption goes with telling a great story. Don’t waste valuable space by just putting a few Emojis! Tell us what happens in the photo, what’s the story behind it.
There are entire articles dedicated to writing a good caption so we won’t go into it too much here. Using quotes, questions, call to action can all be great ideas but use them appropriately.
Note: for posts in feeds, only the first three lines of a caption will be displayed. For captions longer than three lines, people will have to tap “More” to read the whole thing. If you want your entire caption to display, Instagram recommends using 125 characters or fewer.
Here’s national geographic effectively telling the moving story behind the photo:
4. Use hashtags
Hashtags get you more likes. A study has found that Instagram posts that sport at least one hashtag average about 12.6% more engagement.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags for each post. A study by Agora Pulse found that the more hashtags a post has, the more likes and comments it has.
It’s important to keep up-to-date so that you’re consistently using popular hashtags. You can use tools like WebSta to get a clearer idea about the most popular hashtags on Instagram and by location.
5. The right frequency to post
Studies have found it’s best for brands and macro influencers to post 1-2 times every day consistently. Buffer found that for brands, there is no drop off in engagement even if you post more than that.
However, this probably does not hold true for micro influencers since your friends may find it a bit annoying if you post too often.
6. The right time to post
Studies have found that peak Instagram posting time coincides with the end of the workday and start of rush hour traffic, so around 6 pm to 7 pm for Hong Kong, although 2 pm and 5 pm also see a spike in engagement. Another surprising peak engagement time? 2 am is popular, says Huffington Post. Sleepless nights.
Unlike for Facebook, every day of the week actually gets you the same number of engagement. It’s not better to post on weekdays or the weekends.
However, for videos, the best time is during off-hours (9pm-8am), gaining on average 33 interactions, versus just 23 during work hours. This might be because it’s more difficult to watch videos in secrecy during the work-day that more people have time to watch videos after work.
The truth is, the best time probably varies a lot from user to user. The best time to post is when your followers are online and ready to engage. For businesses on Instagram, you should look on your Instagram insights panel, particularly if your followers are from multiple time zones.
7. Colour matters
Colours are super important when it comes to your Instagram game. Basic colour theory tells us which colours go well together. Here are a few common combinations:
1) Monochromatic: various shades of one colour;
2) Analogous: colours that are side by side on the colours wheel;
3) Complementary: opposites on the colours wheel, such as red/green or blue/orange;
Using images with these colour schemes can be more visually appealing. They also tell the followers different things. Monochromatic colours are more conservative while complementary colours are high-contrast and high-intensity but can be more difficult to use.
Colour also influences our perception and emotions.
For example, red symbolises danger, but also energy and warmth.
Orange communicates activity and optimism.
Yellow is fun, cheerful and happy.
Green is the colour of plants and communicates health and nature.
Blue is peaceful, calm and trustworthy.
Purple represents royalty, nobility and mystery.
The psychology of colour influencers many brand colour choices. For example, banks and insurance companies like blue and it makes them more trustworthy, whereas RedBull uses red and yellow to signify energy.
Try to use the right colours to tell your stories on Instagram.
A study from over 30M+ Instagram photos found that using blue as a dominant colour in your photos increased the number of likes by 24%.
But images that are dominated by a single colour almost always outperform those without one. Make sure that most (if not all) of your images feature shades of one strong colour to help them pop out of the newsfeed.
8. Be consistent
Being consistent is key to building your Instagram identity. The best influencers use a consistent filter or colour tone so when everything works together when you scroll through their profile.
Instagram is all about the power of the visual, so create a unique “look” for your brand. You want followers to be able to immediately recognise and identify your visual style. A WebDam social media report found that 60% of the top brands on Instagram always use the exact same filter for every one of their posts.
9. Be funny!
Humans are emotional animals. We love content that make us emotional and happiness is the best to employ on social media. So make content that will make us laugh!
10. Try videos
The vast majority of Instagram posts are still photos. Only 4% of posts are videos. So using videos may be a great way to stand out. However, you may notice that videos get fewer likes.
Currently the average photo receives an average of 37 interactions per 1,000 followers, while videos are behind with an average of 24 interactions per 1,000 followers. So, sticking with photos to get more comments and likes is a safe bet.
11. Use the right image ratio
Instagram no longer only takes square photos but this makes it more important to choose the right size for your images. Instagram images go up to 1080px x 1080px and its best to use a high quality photo since people will be viewing your photos from retina displays and you want them to look good.
Aspect ratio is also important. For landscapes, Instagram allows up to 1.91:1, which is this size:
And for portraits, Instagram allows up to 4:5, which is this size:
Portraits tend to perform better than landscapes because it takes up more space on the viewer’s screen so naturally people spend more time looking at it.
12. Be yourself
Instagram is filled with fake personalities and advertisements. To stand out, just be yourself! Be someone with an opinion and stand for what you belief in. If you’re an animal lover, then tell your followers that. Don’t try to be who you are not.
13. Be unique
To stand out from the crowd, do things that others aren’t doing.
Here’s an influencer doing an interesting challenge:
14. Use the right filter, or not at all!
No filter is by far the most popular choice on Instagram, and for good reasons. A study by Agora Pulse found that photos will no filter applied have the highest like-per-follower.
Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with filters but this shows which filter you use can have a significant impact on the number of likes you get!
15. Ask for likes
This probably works more for brands than influencers since influencers asking for likes may sound a bit weird. But it’s perfectly fine when running a contest or lucky draw.
A study by Agora Pulse found that likes and comments significantly increase while the words ‘like’ and ‘comment’ are featured in the caption itself.
So that’s it. 15 highly actionable tips to get more likes on Instagram.
If you’re a brand and want to have an even stronger Instagram presence, start doing influencer marketing! Read our ‘Ultimate guide to micro influencer marketing’ to find out more or contact us!
If you’re an influencer looking to earn some quick money from all those likes you’ve got, sign up on our micro influencer platform and start working with brands!
Win in the age of word of mouth