An Instagram experiment: do posts with faces get more likes?

In a recent blog post I mentioned that Instagram posts with faces can achieve 38 percent more likes than those that don’t. This is based on research by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs that found posts with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They are also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.

To test this, I conducted an Instagram experiment. I posted a photo of myself (outlining the experiment context in the caption) and benchmarked it against some of my other top performing posts after one week.

So, is this stat true? It seems so.

The analysis

A week after posting I benchmarked the engagement insights from my ‘Face’ photo against two of my top performing posts. Overall my ‘Face’ post achieved an average of:

  • 30% more likes
  • 90% more comments
  • 22% fewer impressions
  • 10% lower reach
  • No new followers
  • No profile views.

What does this mean?

Overall the ‘Face’ post did generate greater levels of post engagement through comments and likes. At this point I should acknowledge my Instagram experiment design was flawed because I did discuss the concept of the ‘test’ in the caption and I also used different hashtags in my benchmark posts. I should have posted using the same hashtags as the post I was going to benchmark against for accuracy, especially in regard to reach.

Nonetheless, it appears faces can generate greater levels of likes and comments as the research suggests. This is a great thing but take it with a grain of salt; these actions do not necessarily translate into ‘interactions’ (such as profile views) or increase post organic reach.

Summing it all up

The results from my limited (and flawed) Instagram experiment have definitely made me consider using more human/people photos in my content mix. It has also made me conscious of how different content types can achieve different objectives. It is important to recognise not every post should be a hard-sell, self-promotion or even self-reflecting. It is important not only to continually add-value for your audience but also to foster an engaged following, to build brand equity and to do these things through a mix of high quality, authentic content that connects with your audience.

How is your Instagram strategy performing? Instagram doesn’t have to be all about fashion and lifestyle brands, it can perform well for a variety of businesses. Contact us if you want to review your current performance or need help launching your Instagram strategy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *