Left cheek poses garner more likes: the effect of pose orientation on Instagram engagement Academic Article uri icon


  • In social media's attention economy "likes" are currency; photos showing faces attract more "likes." Previous research has established a left cheek bias in photos uploaded to social media, but whether left cheek poses induce more engagement than right cheek poses remains to be determined. The present study thus examined whether pose orientation influences the number of "likes" and comments garnered by photos uploaded to Instagram. The top 20 single-user Instagram accounts were identified, and the most recent 10 left and 10 right cheek images were selected, resulting in a total of 400 images. The number of "likes" and comments were tallied for each image, netting over 1 billion "likes" and 14 million comments for analysis. Results confirmed that pose orientation influences audience engagement: left cheek poses garner >10% more "likes" than right cheek poses. Gender did not influence "likes". Comments were not affected by either pose orientation or gender, likely reflecting the different levels of effort and motivations involved in "liking" vs. commenting on an image. These data indicate that a seemingly inconsequential turn of the head profoundly impacts audience engagement: left cheek poses gained >330,000 more "likes", offering clear implications for marketers and others in the social media economy.

publication date

  • 2019