Images with Blue Hues Win More Likes

After analyzing over 30 image features of eight million Instagram photos, visual analytics provider, Curalate, found images with blue hues received 24% more Likes than photos with predominantly red hues.

Scheduled to be released next week, Curalate’s Instagram study also discovered single-colored images were more popular than images with multiple colors, winning 17% more Likes. The Instagram study results were much different than the findings from Curalate’s earlier Pinterest study that found, among other things, red images were more likely to be repinned than blue images on Pinterest boards.

“We noticed this too and thought it was pretty interesting,” said Curalate CEO Apu Gupta, “Becoming a more visual-centric marketer is still in its infancy. Instagram and Pinterest are relatively young platforms and it’s clear the way people engage with these platforms is different.”

Dominant Colors



Beyond color, Curalate discovered images with a high amount of lightness garnered 24 percent more likes than dark images, and low saturation images received 18% more Likes than photos with “vibrant colors.”



Other image features impacting whether or not an Instagram image received a Like included background and texture, with images that had a high amount of background winning 29% more likes than those without backgrounds. Images with texture won 79% more likes.

“Likes on Instagram, while incredibly valuable, are hard to come by with 65% of Instagram images garnering between zero and ten likes,” said Gupta.


According Curalate’s research:

To generate consumer interest, images should allow the eye to rest by having some background space. Images with a large amount of background space (above 90 percent) are very successful. Despite this, 70 percent of current Instagram images only have 0-20 percent background space, leaving significant room for improvement.

As far as the further differences between what works on Instagram versus Pinterest, Curalate’s research found Pinterest images with less than 10 percent background won two to four times more repins than images with a high amount of background, unlike Instagram where images with more background were more popular.

Also, Pinterest images with 50% saturation or more received ten times the number of repins than desaturated images, while Instagram images with low saturation earned more Likes.

“Instagram is about documenting and celebrating experiences–those experiences happen outside. Pinterest is much more about discovery and inspiration, [so] those photos are typically of ‘things’”

“I suspect that this is probably reflective of the way people use these platforms,” said Gupta on the differences between Instagram and Pinterest, “Instagram is about documenting and celebrating experiences. It’s no surprise that a lot of those experiences happen when you are out and about – think blue sky, blue ocean. Pinterest is much more about discovery and inspiration. A lot of what Pinterest users are interacting with are professional photos shot by brands (not users), and frequently those photos represent things (e.g. clothes) and those things are on people.”

On the differences between the popularity of blue and red hued images on Instagram and Pinterest, Gupta noted that flesh tones register on the reddish scale. He went on to explain, “It’s also possible that Instagram’s filters are washing out some of the tones that would have been considered reddish which may have obscured the data.”

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Images with Blue Hues Win More Likes
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