Psychology Today recently published an opinion piece about how Instagram is the happiest place on the internet. And we’re the first to agree. If you’ve been on Instagram in the past years that it’s been taking over the world wide web, you know that it’s chocked full of puppies, gourmet dishes, beautiful landscapes, fast cars, and inspiring quotes. The first Instagram post, in fact, included a shot of an adorable pup.
It’s definitely a fun, high energy and uplifting atmosphere. But there’s key psychology components behind why we love these pictures, and once you know them, you can use them to help power your Instagram posts and draw more followers than ever before.
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Social Media Psychology: Instagram Is Addicting
The thought of sharing activities alone activates reward centers in our brains. Think about the last time you were out and saw a great photo opportunity – you probably thought, I can’t wait to share that on Instagram. Dopamine is released in your brain when you post and people interact with your post – the same chemical that’s associated with addiction. Ok, people – so the draw of Instagram is real. And you can get people addicted to your account.
In real life, we talk about ourselves for about 30-40% of the conversation. With social media, that number ramps all the way up to about double, 80%. We share photos to stay connected: 78% of people in a New York Times study gave this as their reason to share pictures. Online, we have time to position ourselves as we’d like to be seen, developing a sense of self esteem that’s more difficult to curate in real time.
Psychology Behind Liking Something
If all we like to do is talk about ourselves, then why do we like other people’s pictures? Obviously, liking other people’s photos is a great way to organically grow followers and get your own account noticed. But there’s something called the reciprocity effect that might be an even bigger influencer on your likes than motivation to grow your account. The reciprocity effect is pretty simple: people tend to return favors. So when you see that heart light up on your picture, your brain is telling you that you need to do the same for the person who liked your photo. And that’s how to grow your accounts: engage. If you like someone’s picture, the psychology tells you that people are going to be more inclined to like them back.
Use It To Your Advantage: The Likeness Principle
This idea is just as it sounds. When someone likes something, they are usually going to be influenced by it. These things that they like tend to be similar to themselves. This may be represented in the way we dress, talk, act, the interests we have – the list goes on. Work the list. Make your Instagram account one that people will connect and engage with by keeping up the human element behind your pictures. Hashtags can work to your advantage if people see you making your own unique hashtags or hashtagging the same things that they are. Talking about relevant information that’s universally celebrated – like holidays – also will help people to grasp on to your account. Geo-tagging your location will make you seem more real and allow others to interact with your posts – people can say hey, I’ve been there, and then decide to follow you as you go.
Before Instagram and social media, celebrities seemed untouchable. But now we can head on over to their Instagram accounts and see them cooking dinner or on their morning run – the walls have come down for anyone with the internet on their side. At the same time that people have become more reachable, because of the nature of Instagram, the lines have become more blurred. We all know there’s been plenty of media coverage on this topic and it’s important not to get sucked into a fake world, but you can use the surreal effect that pictures create to help with your content marketing. People use social media to escape – making your account interesting and unique will help with their mini getaway.
This is a real psychological term that explains the feeling we get when we’re staring at a really great picture on Instagram and want that awesome sports car we see or that pair of shoes with the cool filter on it. When we compare our life to another person’s life, we’re participating in a psychological phenomenon called relative deprivation. We think that the photograph of our late afternoon dirty chai latte is not as cool as the other person’s perfectly captured cappuccino with the latest novel and reading glasses. Comparison can be a problem if we let it go unchecked and out of control. But it can also be a tool – your brain wants to see the cool things that other people have, so make them want to see yours, too.
This one’s mainly for you foodies out there, but applies to the entire Instagram world in general. Research from the Journal of Consumer Marketing gives us some interesting news: Instagramming your food makes it taste better. Yeah, not kidding. And it can also make you healthier. Studies showed that the simple act of scrolling through artful pictures of kale salads and smoothies made them appear more appetizing, subliminally coercing people to want to eat them.
There’s also the fact that the act of taking a picture of our food delays us in eating it – which some people might think is annoying. Our food is getting cold while we try to make it look tasty on the screen. But this act of taking the time to photographs our meals five us a few moments before we actually dig in. This gives us a sense of reward once we’re finished – and will make the reward centers in our brain think our food is more appetizing. With anything, a little bit of wait ramps up the reward, so by taking a few extra seconds to snap a picture, what we’re snapping the picture of will seem all the more appealing in the end.
Now that you know some of what goes into Instagram, you’re going to want to know that I’ve created over 80 videos (24 hours of tutorials, including monthly updates to stay ahead of all the Instagram changes) in my Advanced Training course. I explain in detail how I went from 1 account with 700 followers to 30 accounts and over 16+ Million Followers in less than 2 years. Now I earn more than $250,000 per year from Instagram advertising deals!