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Influencer culture: data reveals the brands and imagery that drive engagement

Tom Bottomley
31 March 2020 has conducted the biggest ever analysis of influencer culture using artificial intelligence (AI) to answer the question, what makes an ultimate influencer?

It has investigated more than a million data points across 52,000 images – sourced from the most engaged Instagrammers’ images between October 2019 - March 2020.

The AI analysed each source image to reveal which particular characteristics such as colours, brands, objects, poses, clothes and locations are most prominent.

Using the data, it says it has created a comprehensive formula to Instagram success. The formula describes the exact elements to include in an Instagram photo to reach maximum engagement and follower "likes" on a post.

The data set was compiled using AI software to identify Insta-famous people who are known for online success and rose to fame via social media.

David Bishop, chief technology officer of, says: “We've analysed 50,000 of the top influencer’s images using artificial intelligence to detect and identify predefined features in the source images. The AI data points told us that dresses, the colour white and the brand Moschino are very prominent in the most popular images posted by women.”

The AI reveals that some big brands hold more clout than others when it comes to Instagram fame. Spotify comes out on top as the most popular brand featured in influencer posts, beating household names including Disney and MTV which came in second and third. Technology brands and products appear heavily in content from the Insta-famous – Nikon and Sony also make the top 10.

The right fashion choices are imperative to achieving Insta-fame. For women, white T-shirt dresses accessorised with hats and handbags are best for generating "likes".

Another crucial accessory for the Insta-famous is a camera and phone – both feature in the top five objects for males and females – proving that every aspiring influencer needs to be poised and ready to capture content at any time.


The number one clothing brand that trumps all others is the Italian luxury fashion house, Moschino. The AI identified that Moschino is closely followed by Christian Dior and Gucci to round out the top most popular luxury fashion brands. Surprisingly, joining the high-end mix of fashion brands is Champion, the American sportswear brand.

Men looking to generate the most love on Instagram should apparently wear a figure-hugging shirt, preferably revealing abs, and accessorise with sunglasses. Casual looks are also popular with male influencers. Adidas took the winning spot in terms of follower love. The science reveals that male influencers and their followers also favour Gucci, Supreme, Balenciaga and Nike, making up the top five most coveted brands.

The location where influencers shoot their content also plays a role in online recognition. For men, Las Vegas is the place of choice. Female influencers, on the other hand, have fared better when featuring Disneyland on their Instagram grid.

The activities featured within a shot also have an impact on how well a post performs. AI identified the emerging pose of choice for generating Instagram attention in 2020 is the "bathie" – featuring a female influencer in a luxury bath. This pose generates twice as much engagement as the next most popular, the Barbie feet pose, which sees influencers posing on their tiptoes barefoot. In contrast, males opt for leaning on vehicles and the bathroom mirror selfie.

The Instagram grid aesthetic is another key point that contributes to achieving Insta- famous status. AI pinpointed that certain colour palettes used in the images of favourite influencers are more likely to generate love from fans. Grey, white and black are the best colours to incorporate into posts.

The research highlights how important technology is in the way companies market products and how brands can harness AI and machine learning to better serve the customer, whilst also helping to solve common issues in the industry, such as overstock.

Bishop adds: “Apparel brands currently have a problem in that they cannot expose their products to all of the people who potentially want them, nor do they have a large enough data set or product catalogue to use advanced technologies to clear their products.

“We use machine learning through our own tool, called Minerva, to identify the underlying metadata of clothing products and pair it with consumers who are actively shopping for products with matching behavioural metadata. This allows us to partner excess stock with buyers effectively and stop it reaching terminal status which is better for businesses, the environment and means happy shoppers with the designer products they love.” has partnered with artist Scott Castle to create two characters, Isaac and India, who represent the "secret sauce" of influencer success highlighting the brands, objects, poses, clothes, locations and even pets that make someone Insta-famous.

Partnering with more than 1,000 of the world’s biggest brands and retailers, is the biggest discount fashion marketplace in the world.

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