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Study shows what people look for before 'liking' a photo on Instagram

New research shows it may be less about what's in the picture and more about who posted it.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Instagram has more than 2 billion monthly users, according to CNBC. That means a lot of people are liking and swiping, but what motivates someone to actually "like" a post? 

Let's connect the dots.

New research shows it may be less about what's in the picture and more about who posted it. A marketing professor at North Carolina State University says a brand's strength and its number of followers are the biggest factors to engagement. 

Simply put, more followers means more likes and reactions. But it isn't exactly that simple. 

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Researchers found people liked images with a diversity of light and color, but not too much and not too little. People also prefer pictures that are very simple or very complex.

Marketing firms hope this research will help businesses and brands gain more traction on social media.

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WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.