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Are Raunchy Instagram Posts Worth the Likes?



Donna Amey, Head of Social Pictures, chats to social photographers Dean Martindale and Olly Lang about the effects of posting risqué photos to personal and branded Instagram accounts

Are Raunchy Instagram Posts Worth the Likes?

Apparently sex sells, but exactly how successful are raunchy posts on Instagram, and what is the backlash? Social Pictures’ Donna Amey speaks to the company’s roster about whether side-boob really does increase followers and how far can you really go to get a double tap? 

With Instagram’s carefully worded community guidelines, very explicit material isn’t acceptable on the platform. They say: ‘We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression.’

The rules are simple, breastfeeding is fine, pictures of sculptures and paintings are fine, but do not post pictures of bare bottoms. And we quite agree, Instagram is distracting enough as it is without an assortment of private parts banded around willy nilly (tee hee). 

But rules are there to be broken, and there are ways of implying sex appeal without having your areolas on show. A couple of our Social Pictures artists share their own experiences and observations with us.

Dean Martindale


Photo taken by Dean Martindale

I definitely think raunchy pictures on Instagram get huge engagement. I do feel that it doesn’t attract the type of audience that I would want, but for sure sex sells and always will.

I’ve noticed through Instagram that people that put a semi naked, or naked girl will get a huge reaction and accounts that show skin will gain followers and increase engagement. It’s animal instinct. From observation I’ve noticed the type of people that comment are usually teenage kids or maybe women that do the same style of modelling.

I know for sure that if tomorrow I start shooting naked ladies and making my feed raunchy that my engagement would sky rocket and my followers would boost. But I feel this would hugely affect my work with the brands that I want to be involved with. It’s also its not my style, so I would lose a core following of people that follow me for my current style.

As for raunchier shoots, I would never say never, but if I did I would be incredibly careful to make it fit to my feed. I recognise the line and can see if I’ve crossed it. I know certain followers may disprove but I’m not out to please followers, I want to better my work and improve in all aspects of photography and to show different styles. 


Olly Lang

Photo taken by Olly Lang

People go as far as Instagram permits to get a double tap, and often beyond that. People post images that get removed for nudity then proudly repost the warning they received from Instagram like a sort of battle scar. It's a statement of not caring, or rebelling which is presented as sexy. 

Models I've worked with explain that followers increase significantly in response to revealing images, while also falling significantly if this trend does not continue. Instagram accounts are like a TV channel, if it changes from WWE to Songs of Praise people are going to turn over the channel. 

Images of women do better than men in my experience, but this depends entirely on the expectations of the audience, and whether there are more visual factors involved. The context for an image is also important to the response it receives. What the model wears, where they are wearing it and how they wear it will change the reactions. It's not as simple as the percentage of skin visible in an image.

A simple change with Instagram's user journey I think has made a huge improvement to the way that images are discovered. The POPULAR page used to be dominated by women in revealing clothing and cute animals. Now Instagram has an EXPLORE page, which displays images based upon images you've liked and people you follow. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, pictures of women do generally do better than those of men. Your friend Peter in a polo neck will get fewer likes than your friend Katy in a bikini, even if said polo neck was new on that day.

However, photographers aren’t willing to compromise the content on their feeds for the sake of new followers. Their existing audience matter to them too much, and that is true love.

view more - Trends and Insight
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