Instagram's Latest Push Virtual Badges to Boost User Engagement

Instagram’s Latest Push: Virtual Badges to Boost User Engagement

Explore how Instagram’s new virtual badges are trying to get users to post more often. What does this mean for creators and the platform’s future?


To invigorate user activity on its platform, Instagram encourages more frequent posting, particularly from creators.

Maintaining an active and vibrant platform is crucial for keeping users’ attention despite a general decline in social media engagement.

As part of this effort, Instagram has introduced virtual rewards for creators and business accounts.


Virtual Badges for Achievements

Instagram has started awarding virtual badges to users who achieve specific milestones on the platform.

For example, users who post to their stories for at least seven consecutive days or achieve a certain number of plays on their reels receive a badge.

While this feature has been around since late last year, Instagram highlighted it in a recent blog post, offering tips on maximizing its benefits.

These tips include tracking achievement progress, posting regularly, and encouraging follower interaction.


Gamification in Social Media

Gamification is a common strategy across various apps to boost user engagement.

Fitness apps, language learning apps like Duolingo, and even games like Wordle use streaks and achievements to keep users coming back.

While gamification can be fun and motivating, it also has its downsides.

It can distort user behavior, making pursuing badges more important than content creation.

Furthermore, it can make users feel inadequate if they do not meet certain goals, especially if their failures are visible to others.

Instagram’s badges are private unless users share them, offering a degree of privacy. 

However, the effectiveness of these badges in significantly boosting user engagement still needs to be investigated.


Business Perspective

From a business standpoint, Instagram’s move makes sense.

The platform is a major revenue generator for Meta, contributing $32.4 billion in ad revenue in 2021.

With Meta heavily investing in the metaverse and artificial intelligence, Instagram’s continued success is vital.

According to Scott Kessler, global sector lead of technology, media, and telecommunications at Third Bridge Group, most of Meta’s recent growth has come from Instagram.

Therefore, Instagram must keep its users, especially Gen Z, engaged to avoid becoming irrelevant.


Expert Opinions

Despite Instagram’s efforts, the effectiveness of virtual badges in increasing posting frequency is debatable.

Ali Grant, a partner and chief marketing officer at the Digital Dept., an influencer-management company, expressed skepticism.

She noted that creators are primarily motivated by reach and engagement, which badges may not necessarily provide.

The pressure to create aesthetically pleasing content for Instagram can deter users from posting as frequently as they might on less curated platforms like TikTok.

Alixandra Barasch, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, also doubted the long-term impact of Instagram’s badges. 

While people enjoy setting and achieving goals, an Instagram posting streak does not offer a different intrinsic value than other activities like exercising or learning a language.

The enjoyment and satisfaction in these activities go beyond external rewards.



Instagram’s virtual badges attempt to gamify the platform and encourage more frequent posting. 

However, whether this strategy will succeed in the long run is still being determined. While it might offer short-term engagement boosts for new creators, it will likely have a lasting impact with additional perks or rewards.

As Instagram continues to explore ways to keep users engaged, the effectiveness of these badges remains to be seen.


Key Takeaways

  • Virtual Badges: Instagram awards badges for specific achievements, such as posting to stories for seven consecutive days.
  • Gamification: This strategy aims to boost user engagement but has mixed results in maintaining long-term interest.
  • Business Impact: Instagram is a crucial revenue generator for Meta, highlighting the importance of keeping the platform active.
  • Expert Opinions: Marketing experts express skepticism about the long-term effectiveness of badges in increasing posting frequency.

Instagram’s Virtual Badges Overview

Badge TypeAchievement CriteriaVisibility
Story Posting BadgePost to stories for seven consecutive daysPrivate by default
Reel Plays BadgeAchieve a specific number of reel playsPrivate by default
Custom Achievements BadgeSet and achieve personal posting goalsPrivate by default

By incorporating virtual badges and gamification, Instagram aims to keep users engaged and active on the platform. 

However, the long-term success of this strategy in a competitive social media landscape remains to be determined.


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