Incentives Matter

Ever since Instagram revealed that they were considering hiding like counts on posts, people have been wondering what this change could mean for the Instagram community. Will influencers lose their pull? Will this change benefit users’ mental health? Will this change how brands use Instagram for marketing?

Right now, this test version of Instagram is only available in a few countries. Basically, you can still see how many likes each of your own posts gets, but that number is hidden from the public. There’s definitely a temptation to measure the effectiveness of any single post by the number of likes it gets. On most social media platforms, the posts with the highest number of likes float to the top of users’ feeds. Success begets success, the popular posts get even more popular. If you can’t know exactly how popular a post is, though, will that change how you look at it? How will this change affect users’ behavior?

One way to see how removing the number of likes could affect Instagram use is to look at VSCO, a photo-editing and -sharing app that’s popular among teens. This app doesn’t display metrics (likes, follower counts, comments), but it’s still wildly popular. Some people speculate that removing this social pressure lets the users be more themselves. The VSCO founders say that they want users to focus on the creative process, not on finding fame.

Displaying metrics or hiding metrics completely changes how people use a photo sharing app. One app encourages people to pursue popularity, another encourages people to pursue their own interests. It all comes down to incentives, what reward users get from posting photos. Is their reward an uptick in numbers, more engagement with the community, or the satisfaction of having created something they’re happy with?

You don’t have to wait for the new version of Instagram to think about how incentives are affecting your online marketing. What are you incentivizing your followers to do? Are you encouraging them to interact with each other, to come into your store, to ask questions, to give feedback about your products? Or are you incentivizing them to remain passive and ignore your posts?

Share a comment about what you think of the changes happening to Instagram. And if you want help creating incentives for your followers to engage with your business in a new way, contact us at info@flourishmedia.us. 

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