It all comes down to the color blue.

May 18, 2017

You interact with so many things on a daily basis — both online and in real life, like picking up a book or choosing a movie based on its Netflix art — it's hard to keep track of why you choose the things you do. While a lot of it is personal preference, of course, there is some science behind why you're clicking on certain things and not others. Color, as it turns out, is a huge indicator for your brain.

As a social editor, specifically managing the Travel + Leisure Instagram account, I can tell you that blue is a color our audience (all of you wonderful people!) is really into. It can be a cerulean ocean scene, a turquoise pool, or the deeper blue of Santorini's famous rooftops; it's going to be a hit. But it's not just me who notices this kind of thing — it's actually a tried-and-true scientific fact that people are really, really into the color blue

According to Color Psychology, blue suggests a feeling of peace and calm. It's also been known to aid in relaxation and meditation (something we could all use more of during a particularly trying scroll session down our Facebook feeds). The color is also linked to productivity, Color Psychology continues, and it's believed that the hue can promote mental clarity and stimulate the thought process. Just these attributes alone explain the staying power this hue has when it comes to social media images.

Colorcom — a group of color experts who provide consultations for businesses and individuals — has a webpage dedicated to the important relationship between color and marketing. And data from the Institute for Color Research backs it up: "Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62 percent and 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone."

Given blue's ability to calm people down, this makes sense. Colorcom also shares that adding any bit of color can increase the amount of time someone spends with a product or on a webpage: "Tests indicate that a black and white image may sustain interest for less than two-thirds a second, whereas a colored image may hold the attention for two seconds or more."

And this click-effect doesn't end online. Kissmetrics, a company that researches customer engagement, says blue is also attractive to impulse shoppers and budget-conscience shoppers.

Specifically across social media — Instagram in particular — blue has been nailed down as a color to use if you're looking to get more likes. In 2013, Digital Trends shared research Curalate, a social scheduling tool, gathered on the popularity of the color blue. The findings? Images that were deemed "mostly blue" received 24 percent more likes than photos featuring reds and oranges. Digital Trends attributed this to the color's calming abilities, saying it "bodes well for users who habitually check their Instagram feeds to blow off some steam from a highly stressful day."

In a world where there is a never-ending vault of variations of blue, which one is the most effective? HelpScout — a software company that helps businesses grow audiences — says it's all about the name. A study called "A Rose By Any Other Name..." dug into participants' preferences when it comes to how we name colors. For example, they found that participants responded better to fancier names than generic names (mocha versus brown). This is why you may find yourself more attracted to azure or Persian blue over light blue or dark blue.

Take a look back at the color-focused content you've devoured lately — did you find "millennial pink" in there anywhere?

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