Instagram is an incredibly popular social media app for teens — in fact, roughly 41% of U.S. teens use Instagram as of January 2021.
But the app can be a tricky platform for teens since it inherently fosters social comparison. In fact, Meta reports one in three teen girls say Instagram makes their body image worse.
Additionally, teens who are unsatisfied with their lives are more negatively impacted by Instagram.
Fortunately, Instagram's team aims to change that, in part with a new nudge feature. Let's dive into what this new feature does, and what it could mean for marketers.
How Instagram's New Nudge Feature Works
Research has found social media digital nudges can help people become more reflective of their social media usage, potentially decrease their time on the apps, and make their overall experience more pleasant.
One study found 58% of respondents say nudges make their social media experience better by helping them become more mindful of their time on platforms like Instagram.
Instagram's new nudge feature for teens aims to leverage this powerful research by making it more difficult for teens to dive too deeply into certain potentially unhealthy topics — like teen girls consistently comparing themselves to the same three influencers.
If a teen spends too long on Instagram's Explore page perusing posts with a particular theme, the platform will display a notification with suggestions for other types of posts. This works in two ways:
- Helps teens discover new topics beyond their current interests
- Encourages teens to pause and assess whether they want to continue looking at the type of content they're currently seeking out
As Instagram puts it, “This nudge is designed to encourage teens to discover something new and excludes certain topics that may be associated with appearance comparison.”
Instagram has taken other steps to encourage positive teen behavior when it comes to their platform, including the launch of another feature, Take A Break, which is a reminder that pops up after a teen has spent a considerable amount of time on the platform, as well as tips for what they can do instead.
The nudge feature is a positive step in the right direction for reducing the time teens spend perusing unhelpful content, and reminding teens to stay mindful of what they consume on the app.
It's important to note, the feature works no matter what type of content teens are scrolling. As Instagram spokesperson Liza Crenshaw explained to The Verge, “The notification shows up after scrolling on any topic for a number of consecutive posts. But, what we include in the recommendations of what to switch to excludes content that may be associated with appearance comparison.”
If you're a content creator or marketer whose target audience includes teens, then this could impact how much time teens spend on your posts — but the more you aim to create healthy, uplifting content for teens, the more likely teens are to mindfully return to your content.
Consider, for instance, @laurajaneillustrations, an Instagram account filled with “content to make you feel GOOD about yourself”, like the one below:
There are plenty of influencers, non-profits, and brands that create inspiring, positive, helpful content, and these are the brands that will be best-suited for these digital nudges. Dosomething.org, for instance, has an Instagram account filled with inspiring content on how young people across the world can make a social impact.
Nike is another brand that focuses on powerful, uplifting messages on Instagram, and regularly showcases a diverse range of athletes on the company's profile.
Instagram aims to support young creators in this venture by creating an Expert Steering Committee, which will be a panel made up of child psychology and digital literacy experts who will provide evidence-based ways for creators to use language that supports teen's emotional well-being and self image.
More likely than not, your business won't be too impacted by this new feature. The nudge feature will focus on reminding teens to look elsewhere when they've spent exuberant amounts of time on one type of content. It's a healthy step towards reducing the time some teens might spend on appearance-based content.
Ultimately, if your brand focuses on creating positive, diverse content for your audience, then you shouldn't be too affected by the nudge feature.