Kendall Jenner posted a photo that surpassed Kim Kardashian West’s own record-holder for the most liked photo in Instagram history — and there’s a scientific study that explains exactly why Jenner’s post has an edge over her older sister’s.
Kardashian West owned the most popular Instagram photo in history for over a year. A snapshot of her and her husband, Kanye West, at their wedding amassed 2.4 million likes last May.
But this weekend, her younger sister, Kendall Jenner, hit 2.6 million likes and counting on a photo she posted five weeks ago, thus dethroning her sister.
Here’s the photo in question:
Jenner managed to beat her older sister’s record, despite the fact that Kardashian West has 37.5 million followers to Jenner’s 29.8 million. But there’s actually even more data than sheer fan numbers that can explain why her photo is so popular.
In fact, when you look at the way people usually behave on Instagram, it makes total sense.
Here’s why Jenner’s photo is so popular…
1. It prominently features her face.
The study, which came out of Georgia Tech last year, proved that people are drawn to photos that prominently feature faces, according to Mashable.
It’s human nature to be drawn to faces, and Instagram photos that include them are 38% more likely to rack up likes, and 32% more likely to attract comments.
Kardashian West’s second-place photo does feature two faces, but they’re in silhouette and occupy much less space within the photo frame than Jenner’s face does in her picture.
This Jenner photo has only 802,000 likes. The lack of faces might be why.
2. Jenner posts to Instagram less frequently than her sister does.
Let’s face it, Kardashian West’s Instagram obsession is so well-established, she’s practically synonymous with the word “selfie.” And she updates her followers constantly. As of this writing, in the last 48 hours alone, Kardashian West posted 10 new Instagram photos.
Jenner’s most recent 10 photos, on the other hand, span the course of an entire week. She’s a bit better at leaving her followers wanting more.
And the same Georgia Tech study that determined the importance of faces in photos also found that posting too often can have an effect on your likes.
“The more you post, the less feedback you’re going to get,” Saeideh Bakhshi, who led the study, told the New York Daily News. “Posting too much decreases likes two times faster than comments.”
This also might explain why Kardashian West’s wedding photo was so popular in the first place. Although the reality star is known for sharing her life on social media, she was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about her wedding.
That might be why everyone flipped out when she finally posted a photo of herself and her husband online.
So photos that feature things we’ve seen before might not do as well. In the below photo, Kardashian West re-posted a photo that had already appeared in the media — and she posted it not once, but twice in the same frame. It only has 631,000 likes.
But the two sisters’ most popular photos do have a few things in common…
1. Both feature white, lacey gowns.
If we had to guess which type of outfit performs best on Instagram based on these two photos, it would have to be a wedding dress or something similarly white and frothy. Jenner might not be wearing one in her photo, but it sure looks like she is.
Here’s Kardashian West’s daughter, North, in a similarly dainty white outfit. The wildly popular photo has 1.9 million likes.
2. Their captions consist of emojis instead of words.
Instead of hashtags or descriptive captions to accompany their photos, Kardashian West picked a diamond ring emoji, while Jenner used a little black heart.
Also, Jenner might have gotten a leg up on likes because she chose a heart. Hearts are super popular on Instagram, according to data on which emojis are used most frequently.
So next time you see a friend’s photo laden with hashtags in a grasp for more likes, you might want to let them know they’re doing it all wrong.
For example, the below photo of Kardashian West shows an outfit that was all over the news media last year the first time she wore it, and it’s got a really wordy caption. It’s only got 598,000 likes, which is not a lot for a member of this clan.
3. Neither photo is filtered.
Using FilterFakers.com, we determined that both Jenner and Kardashian West posted their photos without filters. Both women somehow resisted the urge to slap a Rise filter on their photos, and posted them as-is.
And although Kardashian West has gone on the record saying she’s not a huge fan of photo filters, Jenner doesn’t seem to be in the same boat. The below photo from her account looks filtered; the lighting is too red and unnatural compared to other ones on her feed. And it only has 642,000 likes.
So if likes are what you want, au naturale is best.
Don’t go for hashtags, colourful outfits, and overly filtered effects if you want to give the Kardashian-Jenner family’s most popular Instagram posts a run for their money.
Oh, and if your account has tens of millions of followers already, that will probably help, too.
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