This is not another post about Instagram.
Instead, it’s about something that’s been on my mind recently about IG.
What I think is great about Instagram is its simplicity—the minimalist app lets you take a picture, add a filter, post it, and of course it allows you to like others’ photos.
I’ve been using IG for a short period of time compared to some—about 8 months. I’ve noticed something just plain odd when it comes to IG and my own behavior: I tend to like people’s photos more often when they have liked mine!
I’ve given it some thought, and I think it’s safe to say I feel a slight obligation when someone likes my photos. I immediately feel like I want to return what feels a bit like a favor, or a compliment! If I were to explain this to someone who doesn’t use IG, they’d think it was silly or maybe just not understand the exchange. Or, perhaps they would point to my gender!
But this isn’t just my behavior—I’ll even notice that if I like a photo of someone I don’t follow (and who doesn’t follow me, or who isn’t my friend), they will very often like my photos in return. So we see them acting in the same way I do.
We’ve all seen it on Twitter, but we don’t talk about it on Instagram—which is a more pure and simple example.
The source of influence at play here is likability (no pun intended, but it’s true) and reciprocity.
Likability comes into play in sales as we’re more likely to buy from people who are like us, from friends, or from someone we at least respect.
That’s not news to many people reading this blog–but what is surprising is that even when someone just TELLS us that they like US, we are more likely to like THEM in return!
Want proof? There’s a well known story about Joe Girard, the number one car and truck salesmen in the US for more than a decade. He sold an average of 4.57 cars and trucks per day, excluding Sundays, on a one-on-one basis. That’s pretty remarkable. One of the ways he becomes familiar and likable to all his customers (or future potential customers) is to send out a card to them. According to Cialdini, he sends out 13,000 cards each month that simply say, “I Like You.”
That’s what he does to render authenticity and to become more likable—and he’s one of the best car salesmen of all time.
What other facets make people likable? Attractiveness, genuine similarity we have with them, being able to create a sense of cooperation, and even just being associated with positive things will make us (or brands!) more likable.
The idea of reciprocity is also working here with IG. We tend to want to give back to those who have helped us, or those who have given us a present–no matter how small that present is. It’s actually because we feel indebted to them, and we don’t like that feeling. No one, no matter the culture, wants to be considered a mooch. Reciprocity is not a complicated principle, but it applies here: we are more inclined to reach out and like a photo from someone who we know has liked our own photos in the past.
Brand building can be seen as a journey.
And it’s definitely a very long journey to brand loyalty!
When we start with a fresh, new brand, it’s true that brand and product managers strive for a broad awareness in the marketplace for it initially. We want to know: who are you?
Brand imagery is important at this point for the mere fact that we use it as an efficient way to establish what this brand means in our minds. It sets the stage for what place the brand will (eventually) own in the consumer’s mind.
Over time we want to know more than just the “who.” Just like when you’re dating someone, we want to know more—we want more depth. We want to know what the brand is associated with, for example.
And after this assessment of any brand associations, and of brand performance, our next step in building a brand involves judgments from consumers. It involves feelings, which means we’re getting a brand response in a sense.
Maybe this is where we break it off in some relationships.
It’s only when there is the idea of a connection—both a “you” and a “me”—where we see a two-way relationship between us and a brand. (And is it even a relationship if it isn’t a two-way connection?)
If we have made it through the judgments (say on quality or relevance to you at that point in your life), and we’ve made it through the feelings (say of security or fulfillment), than we have a chance at garnering consumer’s loyalty to a brand.
With all that in mind, the branding journey doesn’t start off with questioning how it is that you can make your consumers more loyal to you…
Instead, quite the opposite: a loyal relationship should be framed another way, which just so happens to be the dunnhumby way. What exactly is that mentality? It’s that instead of looking to change our consumers with a product or service, marketers should instead start the journey by reflecting, “How can I be more loyal to my consumers?”