On Instagram, a picture is only as good as its likes. Or at least that's what my teenage friends tell me.
"Since my friends and I started high school, we've started to see the Instagram like as a social status," Michael, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from New Jersey explained. "We use it as a way to judge popularity almost, because — obviously — popularity is very important in high school."
In a world where Instagram likes are linked to popularity, quantity matters.
"For me, I like to get around 60 likes on a photo. Somewhere between 50 and 60," 17-year-old Gabby from Massachusetts admitted. "Though, I just posted a picture and it already has 92 likes. It's my third most liked pic."
Emma, a 17-year-old high school senior from Michigan quoted me a similar figure. "I sort of base a 'good number' [of likes] on what I have gotten in the past. Rn it's about 55 likes," she told Tech Insider via text. (In case you're not up on texting slang, "Rn" is shorthand for "right now." )
By comparison, my last Instagram post, an intentionally blurry pic snapped at a Mardi Gras celebration, got only 3 likes. I thought it was a funny joke my Instagram followers would like.
Apparently, I was wrong. According to our teen experts, they thought it would be best if I went ahead and deleted the photo. How embarrassing.
It's also important to consider your follower to like ratio when assessing a "good" instagram, Michael explained.
"I have about 670 followers, so my likes usually range around 150," he said. "The more followers you have, the higher the number of likes should be."
Numbers are important, but not all likes are equal.
"An Instagram like means a lot more when it is from someone who never likes my photos or who I think is really cool," 18-year-old New Yorker Verity told TI.
"As long as I know the person pretty well, I will like their photo. I'm probably too generous sometimes with my likes," Verity also explained. "But I usually don't like someone's photo when I'm upset with them or if they never like my photos."
But most importantly, likes have to be real. That means buying likes is out. (We hope we aren't the first to break that to you.) "Some people I know are so concerned about getting likes, they buy fake followers and likes," Michael told TI. "That's a big no-no in my grade."
"I hate liking my own photo and my friends who do that in order to get more likes drive me nuts," Gabby added. "If I posted it, obviously I like it! But that's a like I didn't earn."
Of course, there is one exception to this rule: moms.
"My mom likes her own photos, but that's totally different," Gabby told TI. "She just does it because she genuinely likes what she posted."