A psychologist explains why Victoria's Secret is absolutely killing it on Instagram

Victoria’s Secret has over 26 million followers on Instagram, coming in second only to Nike as the platform’s most popular brand, according to the Iconosquare index.

Of course sex appeal has something to do with it, but there are plenty of sexy Instagram accounts that don’t have nearly as many followers.

So how did Victoria’s Secret get so popular?

Tech Insider spoke with Director for the Media Psychology Research Center Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge about all the reasons the brand is doing so well on social media. Keep reading to see how Victoria’s Secret built its massive Instagram following.

One thing you'll notice right away after following Victoria's Secret is that the models aren't just pretty faces -- they're personalities.

Even though the models are ethereally gorgeous, they're not always perfectly posed like they might be in a lingerie catalogue or fashion editorial.

'When you see their images all the time, you start to feel like you know them,' Rutledge told Tech Insider. 'Which makes it friendly -- this is just my friend showing me lingerie.'

'It also elevates the brand,' she continued, saying that not only do consumers feel as though they know the models, but they trust them as well as Victoria's Secret.

Making the models seem accessible also makes the lingerie and brand feel accessible, too.

'Victoria's Secret really did an interesting thing which is they countered a cultural taboo and they made sexy lingerie something you could put in a shopping mall or on Instagram,' Rutledge said.

That could be because the models they choose aren't threatening. Even though they won the genetic lottery, all the models seem to have personalities that customers -- especially women -- can relate to.

'They make it look like they're silly,' Rutledge said. '(The photos are) tasteful, playful, and celebratory.'

The brand also doesn't always show models who are perfectly coiffed and photoshoot-ready. The hashtag #trainlikeanangel is all about being both relatable and aspirational.

'This is obviously not something everyone can achieve,' Rutledge said, referencing the models' bodies. 'But it makes the point that they sweat just like you do.'

It also makes the statement that the in addition to being naturally beautiful, the models also work on themselves like anyone else. Of course, they have a leg up, but this makes the brand more relatable.

But then there's the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, where models wear some of the least relatable outfits on the planet. How does that tie in?

'The extraordinary outfits (of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show) also help with the social comparison,' Rutledge told TI.

She said that the fashion show is a massive success because women aren't as likely to compare themselves to models in extreme costumes.

'What's the point of comparing yourself to someone in angel wings?' she said. 'You're more likely to compare yourself to someone in a little bikini next door.'

It also doesn't hurt engagement-wise that the brand shows a lot of beautiful faces.

A study by Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs found that people were 38% more likely to receive likes with photos of faces.

'Instinctively we respond with our lizard brains to sex,' Rutledge said. 'So the interesting thing about the Instagram is it's not just sex, sex, sex, but it takes you on these stories.'

'It's intense, playful, funny, and takes you through these waves of emotion,' she continued. 'That makes it more pleasurable to flip through their pictures.'

And relatable or not, both men and women enjoy looking at pictures of attractive people.

'You're interested in how the stuff looks,' Rutledge agrees. 'They're also selling beauty tips, and there's a certain amount of interest in 'What are their secrets? How do they look so beautiful?''

Plus, at the end of the day, Victoria's Secret sells clothes, so people are interested in seeing how the product looks on the models.

And yes, they're sexy.

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