Photos with faces on Instagram get 38% more likes than photos without a face. They also receive 32% more comments, that’s a whopping increase in engagement. We are naturally drawn to human faces and Instagram accounts that seem more ‘human’. How do you get more likes on Instagram? By posting selfies? Well it might not be as simple as that, here are some tips to make your Instagram account more personable.

The Official Word

Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo! Labs conducted research into what types of photos were the most popular, in terms of getting more likes, and their conclusions are very helpful for businesses wondering what content they should be posting to get more likes. They found posts featuring faces were overwhelmingly more popular – almost 40% more popular – and it didn’t matter how many faces, the gender of the faces or how old the faces were. Any face will do. The researchers couldn’t explain exactly why we’re drawn to faces but speculated it could be that we have an innate fascination with them; even as babies, we love to look at faces and use them as a guide for context, emotional reactions, and identity.

Expressing Your Image

Faces can emit a lot about a brand. If there is a certain image you want to achieve, look for specific coloring, features, and expressions. If you’re a quirky, fun brand, perhaps take some photos during summer featuring people looking casual with smiles or goofy expressions. A serious brand could use black and white photos with a harder expression and no smiles, or more arty winter shots. If using faces helps boost the number of likes and comments on Instagram, it’ll also bump up your account on search rankings making you more visible to potential new followers.

The Selfie Movement

People have always taken selfies, they just weren’t called selfies and we didn’t have social media to share them on. When social media exploded, so did the use of selfies and the word ‘selfie’ was born. Posting selfies on your Instagram account is a great way to contribute to your personal story and add to the tone you are trying to set on Instagram. For example, fashion Influencers’ feeds are full of either selfies or portraits of themselves in beautiful ensembles and this is how they build their following.

Tell A Story

Images obviously don’t, and shouldn’t, all be selfies. It doesn’t allow for a huge amount of variation and you don’t want your feed to become monotonous. In order to tell a story, you can use other people’s faces as well. Telling a story is another great way of keeping your account personal and to get more likes. This may sound like only something an Influencer or ‘normal’ user can do, but if you think about it, every brand or business has a story to tell. Use your Instagram account to convey your story and you’ll be sure to get more likes and followers. Of course, not all posts have to feature faces if it doesn’t make sense for your brand; but definitely try to incorporate faces as much as is relevant and use them as part of your story.

Social Justice

Research has also shown that the use of faces in images really gets people engaged when it’s sharing stories of marginalized social groups, which have the power to counteract bias and enable social justice. If your brand is running any sort of campaign or partnering in a charity affiliation, consider if you can incorporate this type of element. For example, if you are donating the proceeds of your latest product to a charity, use real people and individual stories in the posts promoting this. Not only will you be making your account more personable, but you’ll get more likes through the use of faces and sharing stories.

Research by Lui et al (2018) discovered that when people identify personally with a post, they are more likely to engage in it. This engagement also came with feelings of empowerment and strengthened connections, great qualities for building up a loyal base of followers on Instagram.

Storytelling creates an emotional connection between customers and brands. A photo is worth a thousand words, so think of every photo as a page out of a book (a page that’ll get you a thousand likes!). Behind-the-scenes and candid photos can be ways to incorporate more people into your photos, and these can be used on Stories if you don’t want such casual images on your regular feed. Use the caption wisely to add to your storytelling.

Your Envious Private Life

There is a fine line between showing off on social media and sharing your personal life with people. However, it seems it doesn’t matter. Feeding into social media’s reputation of creating an false impression that everything about your life is perfect; it turns out photos containing luxury lifestyle aspects (like fancy cars, big houses, or your luxurious yacht trip) or indeed anything about your personal life, tend to get 11.4% more likes than those not containing your personal life or your luxurious life. Hiten Shah also found that personal posts in collage form were even more popular, receiving 19.41% more likes and 22.4% more comments.

Give Your Brand A Face

This isn’t a new concept, companies have been appointing brand ambassadors for decades, but a less official Instagram version is a somewhat novel idea. On Instagram you don’t have to officially appoint a celebrity to be the face of your brand – you can collaborate with Influencers, fans, or have the people behind your brand featuring in sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes Stories posts to bring a human element to your brand on Instagram.

It’s clear that to be successful and get more likes and followers on Instagram, you need to humanize your brand. The best way to do this is to incorporate photos featuring real people in your Instagram posts. Don’t force this though and end up posting irrelevant photos that don’t fit in with your theme or social media tone, make sure they are adding value. A great way to add more faces is to use the Stories feature as these can be a little more casual. Other ways to make your Instagram account more personable in order to get more likes is to have your profile picture as a human face, tell a story with your posts and reveal personal tidbits about yourself or the people behind a brand.