Friday, September 4, 2015

If someone "likes" you on Instagram do you "like" them back?

One of the ideas that we discussed on Wednesday was reciprocity -- the idea that if you give someone something they will feel obligated to respond in kind.

So I'm wondering, when someone likes you on Instagram or Facebook, what do you do?  Do you like them back?  Why?  And what does it mean if you do?

What about following them?  Again, are you obligated to do so if they have started following you?

Finally, is your behavior any different for brands versus people?  Do you follow any brands on social media?  Why?  Do you "like" them?  What do you expect in return?


  1. When it comes to "likes” on Instagram, I usually “like” them back. When someone “likes” my picture that often means that they “like” your picture in hopes of you returning the favor to a picture they recently posted or one of their past ones. When it comes to the topic of following, I believe that is a different story. I don’t usually feel obligated to follow back, unless it is someone that I know or someone who is “Instagram famous.” Milennials are now part of a generation that is considered “Generation Like,” where people are now focusing on social media as part of their every day lives. Different brands are now trying to reach consumers through social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. This means that brands will even use marketing efforts to “watch” online users every move, specifically Milennials. With this information, they are able to target things that they “like” and reach out to them through these “likes.” Brands try to appear as transparent online, so that the consumer will trust them and essentially their products. I do follow certain brands on Instagram and Facebook. I usually won’t follow back a brand that I haven’t heard of, but I do follow well known brands such as Valentino and Balmain (fashion brands). I follow them because they are a well known fashion brand and I particularly love their clothing and style. Because they are so well known, I don’t expect anything in return. I follow them to see their latest fashion products that they have released.

  2. When someone "likes" me on Facebook, I sometimes feel obligated to take notice of what they post. For example, I reconnected with an old high school friend on Facebook. No matter what I post, I know I can count on her to "like" or comment. I hate to admit it, but it does make me feel good to know I can count on her to respond.

    When people “like” my posts or comment, it depends on the person if I feel obligated to reciprocate. Going back to my example, no matter what my high school friend puts up, I feel compelled and that it’s my duty to “like” it as well as comment since she does it for me. I like her as a person, consider her a friend, and we have mutual interests so I don’t feel obligated to reciprocate. But, if it’s someone I don't’ particularly care for or if their interests are radically different from mine, I don’t feel obligated to reciprocate.

    For me, “liking” them means giving support. It doesn’t feel like reciprocating and I don’t view it as a duty or chore because I feel supported when they “like” my posts. Even though people are considered your “friends” or following you on social media, they are not all close friends. I think that everyone, some more than others, are affected when people respond or don’t respond to their posts. It’s only human nature, right? Somehow, it validates your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. So, if someone “likes” my posts, I consider it personal and it makes me feel good.

    When someone “likes” my posts on Facebook, depending on who it is, I can either feel obligated to follow them or just keep an eye on what they post.

    I don’t feel any obligation to follow someone if they start following me. If we differ extremely in ideology, I don’t feel any obligation to respond to their posts, but if they are similar and they respond to mine, I do feel somewhat obligated to reciprocate.

    My behavior is very different toward brands versus people because I don’t have a personal connection with a brand. Even if I like the brand, I don’t feel the need to reciprocate no matter what they may do, say or give.

    I only follow brands that I like and believe in. It’s my way of publicly supporting the brand as well as endorsing it to hopefully influence others to notice.

    When I like and believe in a brand, I will respond to most of their posts by “liking” it or writing a comment.

    When I “like” or follow a brand on social media, I don’t have any expectations of my actions being reciprocated because I’m the one who initiated the “relationship.”

  3. Just to give some background. I have Facebook account, but I am not active on it. However, I do active on a Chinese social media, Wechat. Though different in appearance, I would say those social medias are the same in nature. So take my experience with Wechat as an example. When I post something on my time line, I do expect someone to “like” it and to comment on it. However, for “like”, I do not care about who liked my posting, instead, I care about how many people like me. I do not even remember who liked me when I post something. I usually “like” people on social media when I feel like I need to reconnect to them after a long time. However, I have a strong feeling of reciprocity when someone comment on my posting because when someone comment on my posting, I feel obligated to respond to them, even though what they are saying is meaningless.

    I did not follow any brand so far, but I do follow two restaurants because they promise to give me discount if I follow them. I do not follow any brand because I feel like I already have so many ad. around me everyday. Any brand’s social media account serves to promote its products or services. So I do not want those ad. to disturb me.

  4. Yes, the majority of the people I have on my Facebook and my personal instagram are close friends and family, so I like everything that I can. I "like" to be nice and show that I like what my friends and family do etc. So, I "like" a lot on my social media since I think it's a nice and friendly thing to do, and it also means in one way that I like my friends.

    In terms of following people, I believe that it depends on what type of Instagram account you have. I feel that it's almost like an unwritten rule that if you have a personal account and someone asks to follow you, you follow back. However, I actually have two Instagram accounts, one private and one public. I use the public one to promote my website, and have many more followers on that one than what I have on my private. It is open to the public and I have almost 2,000 followers, many of which I don't know personally. So, I think it's ok to not follow back if they start following me. The account is not very personal and I am very selective when it comes to what I post and share on that Instagram. Hence, it's more like a "brand Instagram" than a "person Instagram", so I don't think people expect me to follow them back either.

    So yes, there is a differene between brands and people. Brands tend to have many more followers and be less private, and therefore only follow back a few and some specific accounts. I follow very many brands and companies (everything from fashion, to food, to magazines, to celebrities, etc.) on social media, on my two Instagram accounts and on my Facebook. I do it because I like them and want to see their products, photos, news, and so on. On my public Instagram account, @matildenewyork, I sometimes collaborate with other social media accounts in order to gain more followers and grow bigger. For example, I tag brands in my photos so they like, or sometimes even share, my posts. I also get discounts when I buy products if I post photos of them on my account. Another thing that I often do is that I try to get bigger Instagram accounts to repost and share my photos in order to get more followers. What I do in return is that I follow them and like their posts, and maybe even post a photo of theirs on my Instagram as well and encourage my followers to follow them.

    I think that social media marketing is very interesting and fun, and I actually wrote a research paper about it last semester. Even though it is a social phenomena, I think it's a great for marketing, PR, and gaining followers (potential customers). Moreover, I believe that you can in one way even study consumer behavior thanks to social media, since you can see who they are, what types of photos (products?) they like the most, what other brands and products they like and follow, etc.

  5. Nicole Espinosa
    I am rarely on social media as I consider myself a bit “old school” so the pressure to “like” something or someone online barely affects me. I only have Facebook and don’t really pay attention to the “likes”. It would affect me more if the person who “liked” something on my page was passing along a message of helping a person or a cause (poverty, cancer, AIDS, etc.)
    I don’t really follow any brands on social media. I do check in every now and then when seasons change. I will say if an incentive was provided, such as a coupon or deal, along with the “like” of a brand I would be more likely to do so.

  6. There is a reciprocity in terms of “Liking” another person’s photo or video via social media. The idea is true in the sense of repaying or owing someone a “Like” on Facebook and Instagram is very real. In my opinion the same goes for me in following someone on Instagram. The people I follow I want to follow me (vice versa) because that shows a mutual interest in one another. But, the freedom of social media allows users a choice in being subjective in what “like”.
    Brands are different versus following people because they represent some sort of product or service. Therefore, my behaviors towards brands are to see the latest news concerning their brand. I follow certain brands on Facebook and Instagram that I like and feel very passionate and influenced by. Most times I don’t feel the need to follow brands because they remind me of the hundreds of emails that I receive from brands every week! Overall, I think the general public expects more out of something according to what they ”like” and follow on social media, which makes it very interesting.

  7. It depends on the situation. If I had to promote a brand or business, then yes, I would "like" someone's social media page and expect the same in return in order for my page to grow each day (that individual's page would gain a follower as well, why not return the favor if the goal is the same). However, for my personal social media accounts, I would prefer some sort of "privacy" and expect friends or family to follow or "like" my page in return.

    My Instagram account is not on private (because I make sure that my content is something that I feel is appropriate for those who come across my account). I have had several businesses follow my page after posting a picture about the business and raving about their products. I was not expecting that type of a response, however, I know that they are doing this in order for me to come back to the business and continue to advertise their products. If a random person, who I've never interacted with, follows my account, then I block the individual. It is my choice to allow or block certain accounts, however, it doesn't mean that I don't understand the rule of reciprocity. I think that if I had a mission to promote something to people, other than to my family and friends, then I would play the "liking" game and get as many followers/follow accounts in order to spread the word.

    I follow brands so that I can be updated with the latest products or news and I expect to hear about any sales or promotions. Brands are constantly trying to find ways to promote themselves for success and what better way to reach people than to promote on Instagram and Facebook. I want to know what the brand stands for and what they promote that does not relate to their products (e.g. causes, beliefs, etc). I don't follow brands as often but these are the reasons why I would follow brand accounts.

  8. Reciprocity is definitely something that motivates us to give back to those who give first. Whenever someone "likes" my posts on Facebook, I tend to feel obliged to "like" their posts back. For me, it is similar to complimenting someone back after having been complimented. It doesn't feel right to only take and never give. I think its in human nature, as we are social creatures, to reciprocate good or bad actions directed toward us. After learning in class that we tend to like people who either look like us, compliment us, or share similar attributes, it makes sense that people in general want to reciprocate, especially compliments, to be social.

    I recently just started using Instagram and have had my friends follow me. However, I hadn't been very inclined to use the app so I never followed people back. Well, until my friends started asking why I haven't followed them back did I do so. It was only fair, since they took 5 seconds out of their life to find and "follow" me, I should do the same. After all, followers to Instagram users are like "friends" on Facebook, the more you have, the better you feel. So I follow them back to make them feel good, releasing that little spike of serotonin in their brain.

    With brands, its less of a social interaction for me. If I do follow a brand, it is for the benefits they offer. These include awareness to promotional campaigns, links to educational posts, or even comedy (the Onion). I don't interact with their follower base or comment on their posts. I see it as an advertising board. This all may change as brands are shifting their focus from advertising to more of a social stance, resulting in a more human interaction between brand and consumer.


  9. Instagram, at its core, is a social media platform for viewing pictures and videos. Whether they are of your friends, favorite brands or even bands, it is a personal corkboard, if you will, into one's visual interests. For me, Instagram is a tool where I can gather inspiration for my day, my creative side or even my work. What are those who interest me doing? It is a direct portal into the daily lives of those people. In short, I do not feel pressure to "like" or "follow" back. My instagram is less about me and more about viewing what I like.

    When it comes to brands, I see tons of people engaging with companies on social media. Those who hold Instagram influence, if you will, have the reach to effect change not only in company policy, but in corporate culture. One Instagram account I follow, for example, is a trendy Brooklyn mom with her own bridal shop in Soho - her Insta-aesthetic has gained over 100k followers. When she posted from the bathroom of a JetBlue flight that she was discouraged from pumping her breastmilk (discreetly) in her seat, her followers and JetBlue took action. In this regard, it seems to be that the brands are more apt to "like" and "respond" back than their constituents.

  10. In the case of Facebook and Instagram if someone "likes" me I do consciously "like" them back. For two reasons: 1. I do feel obligated to reciprocate. 2. I actually like what they post - I don't "like" every single thing that they post and vice versa as I do choose what I "like". By "liking" them back, it shows that I am reciprocating to their gesture (of following me) and it shows that I am interested in them.

    As for "following" them, if they are "following" me I do feel obligated to follow them. By following them back, it shows good manners, social (media) decorum and that you are actually interested in them as well.

    In terms of following brands, I don't do it. I only follow people who are my friends and family or celebrities I'm interested in. People are breathing, living human beings and multi-dimensional unlike brands. I am invested in people I follow as they are with me. There's a real connection you get when following people which you don't get from brands.

    Although if for some reason an ad pops up which they often do when I am surfing the web, and it's a brand I like or use, I will more than likely "like" them.


  11. There are some stipulations here that would dictate my “like” or “follow” in return. It depends on the context of the like or follow, i.e.; did they like a life event or something of equivalence and then have something of similar importance occur on their social media account? If yes, I would probably like in return. If I am posting cool pictures of quality from travel and they are posting subpar images of boring food or their favorite meme about their college football team, I would probably not. I do not feel obligated to like something just for the base factor of reciprocity. If you post boring stuff, I do not want to be in your feed as someone who approves of that. Instagram follows are a little trickier, because if someone follows you it is almost protocol that you in turn follow him or her. Again, this is case by case, if someone likes what I am doing that does not mean I have to follow or like their updates, but I understand the system.

    I follow and like brands with no expectation of return, although, if it’s a brand I am particularly fond of I may like or follow it just so other people see this new brand that I found. As someone else mentioned in the blog, I like what I want to see and have streamed in my newsfeed, such as; news sites, outdoor equipment, fitness regimens, tech, business and travel. I don’t want my social media clouded by stuff I am not interested in. Its my personal space to view and follow what I want to be inspired by or updated on. I do follow quite a few key figures or companies because I like to be kept in the loop of current affairs, in regards to their specific field.

  12. I don’t feel obligated to like someone’s photo based on their likeness of my photo, however, I do develop a sense of fondness if someone likes one of my photos. What it means to me is that we have created a digital bond.
    I follow a few brands on FB and yes my behavior is different when following brands vs following an individual. Following brands seems to create a sense of loyalty to that particular brand. For example, if you are following Nike you may favor Nike shoes over any other shoe brand. Same may go for a credit card company like American Express. I have a sense of loyalty to that brand which is why I may follow it or use it frequently. The line is drawn when you follow brands vs following a person, because when you follow a brand it becomes business; it may fall under the umbrella of marketing. In return I would expect a reward or loyalty points for following a brand. Reciprocity would enter the equation more when following a brand vs following an individual.

  13. The world of social media interaction is a constantly changing and growing world, and with that I have found from personal experience that the etiquette of these interactions through social media is growing and changing as well. There is no set text in a handbook telling us that we must except every friend request on Facebook or have to follow every person that follows us on Instagram I typically do not like someone’s picture or Facebook post just solely because they liked my post and I feel obligated to repay them the favor. I mostly like people’s posts if I genuinely like what they posted. However, I do have a few close friends whose posts I will like no matter what and vise-versa, they like all of my posts. I suppose that when reciprocity is exhibited within social media interaction it is a sign of support and agreement with each other. When someone likes your posts it often leaves you with a positive feeling towards them and also makes you more inclined to like what they post.
    If someone follows you on social media, I feel there is certain obligation to follow them back if they are a friend that you interact with regularly in real life. I even have some friends who will revoke their follow if it is not reciprocated. I on the other hand do not take things that extreme and I do not take an un-reciprocated follow personally.
    I feel as though there is less of a standard of reciprocity when it comes to following brands on social media. The majority of following that I do on Instagram is brands, companies, and celebrities and I do not expect them to like anything I post or follow me back. I follow these things because I like staying up to date with them and because they are things that I am interested in. For example I follow, Seventeen Magazine, J-crew, Freepeople, etc. I “like” them because I am intrigued by what they are posting, I either agree with it, think its funny or cool. In return I do not expect much other than that the brands continue to keep posting things that I like.


  14. If somebody likes my picture it does not obligate me to like their picture back. I typically like a picture if I approve of the picture. I like a picture if it reflects positivity such as an achievement, family,beautiful scenery, or happiness. I will not like an Instagram photo if the photo quality is poor, if the content is vulgar, obscene or demeaning. The reason I will not like such photos is because I will not show support for negativity.