My theory is that a well-performing Instagram post has at least one of the following qualities: Good composition, a notable subject, a caption one can respond to, my face, good composition, and/or something quirky. Due to the nature of my sample, it is impossible to say “one thing” causes an Instagram post to be successful. Rather, there are a series of different attributes a post can have to increase its engagement. I did not find the composition tool to be especially helpful because there is a big range of what we consider to have “good composition”–most of my pictures had some sort of decent composition, but they still varied in performance. Instead, I think the content of the picture is more important.
My best-performing pictures tended to be of me with something notable–usually either a landmark or a famous person.* Pictures with friends on special occasions also performed well. I did have one well-performing picture that was neither of those things. I think its success was because it was quirky (a very delicious homemade sandwich), aesthetically pleasing and because my caption served as a call-to-action to comment. Therefore, I have come up with three archetypal successful posts I can use in the future. If my theory is correct, a picture with Beyonce would do very, very well.