Long live Instagram! In the world of social media, the status of our popularity lives and dies by likes and comments. Such is the case for the photo-sharing app, Instagram. While it may sound simplistic and self-serving, the app has taken the social media world by storm and is especially popular with young generations. The app, created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, took a note from Twitter in the sense that it allows users to connect with the more “elite”; i.e. actors, musicians, athletes, etc. These individuals have an automatic in to likes and comments on their photos due to the fact that they are well-known personalities who, as we all know, have fan bases. So how do Average Joe Instagram users gain likes and comments? Dan Zarrella investigated this question in his infographic below, titled “The Science of Instagram,” and what he found on the subject may be bits of gold knowledge for avid Instagram users who are looking to heighten their popularity status. Zarrella’s study tracked more than a million photos to learn about the rise and fall of likes and comments. His first find was that the more tags you include in a photo, the more likes and comments you are likely to get. Say for example you have a photo with a group of friends. When uploading the photo, you are able to attach their user names to said photo. This allows them to be notified and also increases the likelihood that they will like or comment on the photo. Not only that, when other users are viewing your friend’s page, they can see their tagged photos and are then able to like as well. You can include up to 30 tags in one photo, and you are not limited to tagging only those present in the photo. You can also tag your location (for example the Art Institute of Chicago) and your photo will be available to anyone who searches that location. Trick: Use the word “like” or “comment” in your caption When uploading a photo you are also able to include a caption. The study has found that if you write the words “like” or “comment” in your caption, you are more likely to receive a like or comment. Whether it is explicitly stated (“Comment on this photo and I will follow you back”) or is stated indirectly (“I really like this time of year), other users will be inclined to like or comment on the photo because their brains have been exposed to the Instagram terminology. The study found that with the inclusion of these words, there was an 89% increase in the like-like category, and a 2,194% increase in the comment-comment category. The quality of the photo is something that plays a role in receiving likes and comments. The study found that desaturated photos tend to receive more attention than photos that are saturated. There was a 598% difference in likes in desatured versus saturated. This may be due to the fact that, while saturated photos grab your attention, they are not always easy on the eyes unlike desatured photos, which are more calming to look at. While on the subject of pleasing the eye, it was also found that cool colors tend to get more likes and comments as opposed to warm colors. And while saturation may not be your best friend, brightness certainly is. It was found that brighter photos attract more likes and comments versus photos that are darker. A big part of Instagram is the use of filters Filters are something you can add to your photo in order to change the look of the photo. There are filters to add brightness, saturation, desaturation or even the classic black and white filter. It may be surprising to learn that, while filters are a popular part of Instagram, they may not necessarily be doing you any favors. The study reported that the best filter you can have is the “Normal” filter, which is just posting what the photo looks like without a touch-up. The “Normal” filter came in first in terms of photos receiving the most likes and comments. The three filters that followed in popularity were “Willow”, “Valencia”, and “Sierra”, respectively. The rest of the filters were ranked under a category marked “average” as far as the numbers of likes and comments. Lastly, as you may imagine, the content of the photo is a determinant of likes and comments. Photos that include faces are more popular than photos containing just scenery or objects. Whether it is a selfie or a group photo, it appears that faces attract more attention as there is a 35% increase in likes for photos with faces as opposed to photos with no faces. In addition, photos that tend to be busier are also more likely to grab a users’ attention. In an effort to analyze “busyness” Zarrella measured the edges within a photo and found that more edges equals more likes and comments. Instagram is a social media freight train that shows no signs of slowing down. With its popularity being linked to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, it seems as though this photo-sharing app is something that will be apart of the Internet for quite some time. In order to achieve the best results while using Instagram, post photos that are tagged, properly coloured and filtered, and filled with faces and edges. When following these steps, you will be up to your knees in likes and comments. This piece originally appeared in Agbeat.