Filters can provide a clearer view of what makes your audience tick. By analyzing six of the most popular Instagram filters, we can learn everything from users’ emotions to the types of posts they prefer. Here’s what you need to know before posting your next photo.

With more than 800 million users — 500 million of whom use the platform daily — Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most popular and influential social media sites today. The platform connects brands and consumers, allows companies to expand the reach of their content, and creates communities of followers.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Clarendon

Image by Kucher Serhii.

In October, the marketing agency Relatable published the results of a study on filter usage that included data from two million Instagram accounts and 40 million posts. The company’s research shows that about 18 percent of Instagram photos employ filters. Clarendon is by far the most frequently used filter, and was applied to 25 percent of all images in the agency’s sample.

As Gizmodo points out, Clarendon has the ability to make lighter areas lighter and darker bits darker, while also accentuating an image’s most dominant color. It’s the most classic of Instagram’s filters, at once trendy and an all-around safe choice.

What does Clarendon’s popularity tell us about consumers? Since it makes an image look more professional, it satisfies the users’ desire to produce appealing visual content. The frequency which Clarendon shows up in our feeds may also suggest that consumers are just plain busy. Clarendon is the first filter option users see when they’re preparing an Instagram post, so there’s no time-consuming scrolling required.

Image via Instagram.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Juno

Image by Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko.

In the second place, applied to nearly eight percent of images in Relatable’s sample, is Juno. This filter “tints cool tones green while making warm tones pop and whites glow for vibrant photos of people,” according to Instagram.

Consumers may pick this filter when they want to brighten an image. It produces a significantly cleaner outcome than filters like Slumber or Reyes. In addition to photos taken outdoors, you’re most likely to see it applied to pictures of people and pets.

Juno’s also a good option for companies that post images from conferences and events or other industry-related content. It produces the clear, sharp look that’s synonymous with B2B content. Your posts should be consistent with what your followers have come to expect. Consumers have their go-to filters — and your brand should have some tried-and-true favorites as well.

Image via Instagram.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Gingham

Image by leolintang.

Gingham is nearly as popular as Clarendon and Juno. But in another study conducted last year by the U.K.-based Instagram scheduling tool Hopper, it was discovered that Gingham is also the filter that generates the most comments and likes. Aside from its effectiveness at engagement, this filter’s claim to fame is its ability to convey a vintage vibe.

Why does that resonate with Instagram users? Chalk it up to nostalgia. This powerful sentiment inspires an emotional response that can have an impact on how consumers feel about social media content.

According to Marketing Magazine, “Nostalgic marketing taps into two consumer needs that overlap but are subtly different: A yearning for a time past and the fondness attached to personal childhood memories.” Instagram users often turn to Gingham when they’re sharing images of vintage-style clothing, architecture, and design. Using Gingham can be an effective way to create an emotional connection between consumers and your brand as well.

Image via Instagram.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Lark

Image by fizkes.

As Instagram explains, Lark “desaturates reds while punching up blues and greens to bring your landscapes to life.” Instagram filter tips for using Lark, therefore, include applying it to photos taken outdoors. In fact, some marketing companies say that Lark should be your top choice for enhancing nature shots.

It makes images look cooler, with hints of purple throughout, as in this photo taken in New York’s Central Park. Consumers use Lark when they post photos of landscapes, along with people and food. It’s applied almost as often as Gingham, coming in at seven percent of photos.

Image via Instagram.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Valencia

Image by fizkes.

Gingham could indicate a fondness for the past, but Valencia can give you insight into whether or not your audience is happy. A recent study on the link between social media and mental health found that consumers who are depressed are more likely to choose Inkwell while “the healthier users tended to prefer Valencia, which lightens a photo’s tint.”

It stands to reason that some individuals might gravitate toward a darker filter. By the same token, the filter you choose as a brand can evoke a particular mood. So put some thought into how you want posts of your products, staff, or storefront to be interpreted by your followers and fans.

Image via Instagram.


What the Most Popular Instagram Filters Tell Us About Users — Mayfair

Image by horsemen.

On Relatable’s list, Mayfair was used by just 2.4 percent of users. That said, according to marketing software company, TrackMaven, posts that use this filter receive six percent more interactions in the form of likes and comments than the average post.

Consumers seem to like this filter’s pink hue and vignetting that Instagram has said “brightens the center of the photograph.” But the best reason to use it, for consumers and brands alike, is that it’s likely to boost engagement — a perk that all Instagram users can appreciate.

#mayfair + #joshuatree

A post shared by Chris Vallejos (@chrisvallejos) on

Image via Instagram.

Whichever filter you decide to choose, start your post with Shutterstock Editor, which allows you to select and resize the perfect photo for your brand to use on Instagram. When you understand your audience, this tool will help you improve your social media marketing and shape your brand image online.

Top Image by leolintang.