Have you ever wondered what the key to Instagram success is? What exactly do the big league social media influencers at the top of the game do, which makes them so popular?
This post is a chance to learn from the best, as I delve into an academic study from 2016 which analysed the most common Instagram composition styles and themes from the world’s top ten most influential personal style bloggers.
51% of Instagram’s users are men and 49% women, compared to Pinterest which is 85% female. Instagram also has the most active users, 61% will ‘like’ at least one image every day. 73% of it’s users are between 15 and 35. Some sectors are more imporatant to users than others with fashion sits at the top of the pile, followed by beauty and home decor.
Popular Instagram users can become ‘opinion leaders’, people who have a greater influence on other people’s opinions than mass media, or their industry. E.g. fashion blogger’s opinions can be more trusted than the fashion industry and they can influence others, who in turn will influence their friends.
The key to a blog’s success is representing a personal journey alongside independence from the mass industry media. That’s why working with brands needs to be carefully considered, because it can have negative repercussions on independence, and therefore trust.
Instagram Composition Factors
People assume photography is a mirror of reality, however, it is not reality, it is a carefully constructed representation using visual language. By analysing 503 images from the top 10 global personal style bloggers on Instagram, over the period of a month, the study took apart the composition and separated it into six important categories.
Framing1) Close shot, taken from the neck up.
2) Medium shot, taken from the knee and above
3) Wide shot, showing the entire body
4) Cut in shot, a close up with the face not in shot.
Camera Angle1) High angle – taken from above the subject.
2) Low angle – taken from below the subject.
3) Eye Level – taken at same height as the subject.
Colour Variables1) Cool – green, blue or purple
2) Warm – red, yellow or orange
3) B&W – black or white
Visual Composition1) Rule of thirds
2) Highlighted – human or product centred in shot
Theme1) Landscape, showing broad surroundings with the model being insignificant.
2) Still life, shot at closer range, more focussed on items or objects.
3) Model – The blogger is the key focus – can be alone, with company or selfie style.
2) Not visible
503 images with the most likes were chosen and their image composition was analysed. Here are the results.
Visual Trends for Instagram Composition.
Wide shots were most popular, making up 85% of content in the case of Nicole Warne, although Chiara Ferragni uses medium shots more than wide shots.
Eye level is the most common angle, but Jule Sariñana uses high angle 49.06% of the time.
Warm colours were predominant, signifying cheerfulness, warmth and excitement. Interestingly, black is the second most significant colour, for instance Rumi Neely uses it 69.57% of the time.
Centrally positioned model/product are most popular.
Images where the blogger is alone in the shot are most popular for all bloggers studied.
Brands are not visible generally. The highest percentage of visibility was 33%, going down to 0%. It is better to create an image that attracts and secures the audience without brands being on display. It is believed that it is better to attract people through the image, rather than overtly displaying brands.
The Most Popular Instagram Composition Style Is…
An image where you can see the blogger’s full body against a significant background. The photo is taken with the camera at eye level and the model is placed at the centre. Warm colours are most widely used and users prefer images where the blogger stands on their own, rather than with other people. Lastly, brands do not appear in an explicit manner.
The most important takeaway is that the most popular images are about the person, not the brand or their friends. Keep the story to you and your life, don’t sell out stockand let everything else follow!
So there you go! Instagram, solved.
Ramos-Serrano, M. & Martnez-Garca, n. 2016, “Personal style bloggers: the most popular visual composition principles and themes on instagram”, Observatorio (OBS*), vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 89-109.