This is what happens in your brain when you see an Instagram influencer

How to protect young people from negative aspects of social media?

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash

Every day you exposed to Instagram posts that make you miserable in your coach because somehow everybody else having so much fun but you don’t. It is even worse for the influencers with their perfectly photoshopped images and fancy bags and cars.

We as humans evolved to improve ourselves by social comparison, and yet it is good to socially compare ourselves to a certain extend. However, comparing ourselves with fancy influencers with unrealistic lives that are far from our natural environment is a new phenomenon for us. And we still don’t know how it affects our mental health.

Brands that are working with influencers should consider ethical responsibilities, especially for niche populations like young adolescents. Because social media platforms like Instagram might have a considerable effect upon young people’s identity.

We know that unrealistic views of modals and influencers may create a negative impact on vulnerable groups (especially younger people) about their body image and self-esteem.

The good news is, we can protect young people from negative aspects of social media by simply knowing neuromarketing. Because, neuromarketing strategies are not only for marketing specialists to sell more product, but also for the consumers to make benefit from it.

As an interesting neuromarketing study, Mañas-Viniegra and his colleagues analyzed the effects of the influencers among young people by using neuromarketing tools like eye-gazing and galvanic skin response. With these tools, they measure the eye movements and arousal levels of the individuals, while seeing an Instagram post.

According to results, when you see an Instagram post, attention level and emotional arousal peaks at most in attractive parts of the influencer. Not a surprise right? That is the same reason why you feel overwhelmed due to the social comparison.

However, surprisingly most of the young people show high attention level and emotional arousal for the imperfections of the influencer. We tend to look longer at imperfect sides of the influencer’s image, which might be a good thing actually. We are seeking for signs that prove us this gorgeous person is natural just like us.

In addition to that, these results also questioned promotional activities with influencers who have a niche audience with specific interests. Because according to data, young people pay more attention to tattoos than brands in an influencer’s post.

So, brands should be aware that a product represented by an influencer is not the best way to reach the target audiences. Therefore, there is no need to use aggressive marketing tactics and upset audiences.

In that case, what to do for protecting vulnerable population’s psychological health and self-esteem?

The first and most importantly, brands that are working with influencer’s should act responsibly and encourages individuals to embrace their imperfections. They should refuse to impose perfect images. At the end of the day, they are trying to sell products to the real individuals right? They shouldn’t forget this.

Photo by Megan Bagshaw on Unsplash

Secondly, social media platforms like Instagram should encourage natural, unfiltered images. They might want to start from scratch with all the influencers and celebrities. People install Instagram to enjoy, and feel better. Not to feel jealous, ugly, and sad. Social Media channels need to reshape their social responsibility strategies to sustain healthy relationships with their members.

Lastly, you can consciously remind yourself that it is a powerful marketing strategy that includes unrealistic images. These influencers and their lifestyles are there for you to buy more stuff. So do not bother yourself to become one!

To sum up, Instagram posts that include fancy-looking influencers may harm individuals psychological well-being. Because they tend to compare their lives with this unrealistic, photoshopped marketing tools.

Our brain mostly focuses on influencer’s attractiveness, which also creates emotional arousal mostly for young women. But at the same time, our brain tends to focus imperfections of the influencer.

So, all the profit-oriented organizations involved should focus more on imperfections and natural beauty, rather than perfectly shaped influencers.

Mañas-Viniegra, L., Núñez-Gómez, P., & Tur-Viñes, V. (2020). Neuromarketing as a strategic tool for predicting how Instagramers have an influence on the personal identity of adolescents and young people in Spain. Heliyon, 6(3). doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03578

Psychologist