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Sylvester Chauke Opinion: The Likes Economy

Sylvester Chauke is an award-winning entrepreneur and cascader of the Stand Against Bland movement in marketing amongst other fun things. He is the founder and Chief Architect of DNA Brand Architects, sits on the Advisory Council for WEF Global Shapers and is a Board Member of the South African State Theatre.

There I was walking through my entire office asking my team of brand architects for a very urgent intervention. This is so urgent, I literally walked towards each desk from the East to the West wing of the office with haste. 24 members later, I had achieved my goal.

You see, I had 488 likes on my latest Instagram post and I really needed it to get to 500 and it seemed awfully unnecessary that I was sat in my office with 12 likes short on my post. You can imagine how chuffed I was when I crossed the 500 mark to 510 likes on one post. Mission accomplished!

I am generally on a very tight schedule, so why was it so important for me to cause such a commotion in the office for these likes…. Then it dawned on me… I am now part of the elite members of the Likes Economy…. I am hooked on Instagram.

Jeez, is that me? A full-on leader of a busy award-winning brand consultancy, missioning around the office lobbying for Instagram likes, that’s hilarious. In fact, laughable. Okay, you can stop laughing now…

That very evening I was minding my own business at a bookshop since I was 30mins early for date night and overheard two friends who were in deep conversation about an Instagram post that has been sitting on 69 likes for 2 days and the big decision that needed to be made was whether to delete this post since it did not “perform”? I could not contain myself, I laughed out loud and pretended to be reading a text when both brunettes looked on.

So, it seemed from then on, that the Likes Economy might be a real thing after all. People are studying and monitoring their likes like you would a recipe for a signature cocktail at the W Hotel or blending eau-de-vie for a delicate blend of Remy Martin XO cognac. This experience sparked a question… What’s really going on in this economy of likes?

People are investing a lot of their time in gaining a bigger share in the likes economy. It turns out that, for a lot of people that occasional read of your current book in the loo is now being spent in the United States of Instagram instead.

A lot of money is being dutifully ploughed in turning posts into “more likes than minutes” by investing in equipment, stylists, makeup, you name it, to make their content pop and these are regular folks who work in banks, hospitals, and even our armed forces.

You could swear that everyone is in Dubai or Phuket, has a 6 pack, drives a Bentley, has Gucci luggage, impeccable style, sunset on boats and how can we forget the gym membership. There is a whole new world out there and oh so many people with so many sides to them.

Then there are those awesome posts, especially videos that entertain the hell out of us. You thought to take a quick check on the state of the economy and then boom, you are on the floor laughing, sending links to your Whatsapp group and then discussing the joke or inspiration endlessly.

Unlike the real economy, however, the Likes Economy is a lot more entertaining.

Back in the day, one would be locked up in a mental institution if they walked around; phone in the air, in selfie mode, twirling around the piazza making a story. I looked at my co-worker do a few twirls in Romania a few days back and laughed. People are going mad!

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, founders of Instagram were genius in the creation of this fun new world and has literally shifted 500 million-plus users to be part of this $1 billion likes economy, with an average of 95 million posts per day!

I do think however that in a connected world we are in, the likes should never be the only way people count their worth in the world because as they say… Things are not always what they seem in the United States of the Socials. I guess then it would be wise to balance playing your part in the likes economy with spending time actually living in that very moment. Now that that’s out of the way.... let me check how my post is doing....


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