- On December 8, 2019
- Homophilous Bonding, Instagram, Nonkin Bridging, Social Bonds, Social Media, Social Relationships
Instagram, like most social networking sites (SNSs), feeds into what Lambert (Lambert et al, 2013) and his colleagues describe as the human drive for social relationships. But Instagram seems to achieve this with more ease, it would appear, than its other SNS counterparts because its very premise is born from forming and maintaining social bonds through a combination of bridging and bonding that is unique to the visual-centric platform.
Because Instagram’s foundation is based on non-reciprocal ties (users don’t have to follow each other back), then its very nature is highly conducive to bridging with broader networks beyond one’s usual homophilous social graph (Fisher, 2017).
Yet the network ingeniously also offers ample opportunity for bonding with one’s friendly and known connections.
The heart icon feature, which when clicked represents someone’s “seal of approval,” works well in either bonding or bridging capacities on Instagram. Because the icon is used to express a like or love of someone’s content is a heart, clicking the heart creates a bonding experience amongst members of the same social group. Why? Because to known parties, the heart-click tends to represent an affection, a preference, or a strong like/love for the content shared.
In a bridging experience on Instagram, a heart icon click (received or given) lets nonkin and others know you (or they) relate or highly regard the content shared in some way. This, in turn, increases social capital by expressing interest, strengthening connections, and building trust. These actions and beliefs help users create and/or finding more meaning via the number of positive variables (Lambert et al, 2013).
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Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, MA, MFA
Media Psychologist & Strategist
Fisher, A. (2017, May 1). Instagram serves a source of social capital, social influence. Brand Gram. https://202.journalism.wisc.edu/2017spring301/2017/05/01/instagram-serves-a-source-of-social-capital-social-influence.
Lambert, N.M., Stillman, T.F., Hicks, J.A., Kambel, S., Baumeister, R.F., and Finchman, F.D. (2013). To belong is to matter: sense of belonging enhances meaning in life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: 39 (11), 418-427.