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Kendall, Kylie, And The Instagram Economy

How to get more likes on Instagram—for a cost.

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But what the hell does "Lb" mean? / Via

It seems unlikely that tens of thousands of Instagrammers are co-opting Kendall and Kylie's comments to pledge allegiance to the British Imperial Unit of weight (nerd joke alert!), so what's going on here?

You might also see "Cb," "First," "Row," or some combination of these.

First = "Like my first post, and I'll like your first post."

Cb = "Comment on my posts, and I'll comment back on yours."

Row = "Like my first row (first 3 posts), and I'll like your first row."

Congratulations. You've uncovered the black market for Instagram engagement and learned to speak its language.

The next step is to try it. Select a commenter and like some of their photos on Instagram. (Pro tip: the more photos you like, the easier it will be to catch their attention in their notifications, and they'll feel obliged to like a whole bunch of your photos in return.)

After just a few minutes of double-tapping your fellow Lb-ers' posts, you should receive a healthy infusion of engagement on yours. / Via

And also an infusion of the temporarily-gratifying dopamine rush that accompanies said engagement.

If your partners don't return the favor, burn their usernames into your memory and be sure to blacklist them from getting your likes going forward.

But how did we get to this place? And where do we go from here?

fb/TheBestMovieLines / Via

Early in the app's history, Instgammers began commenting "Lb" after liking a photo in order to request likes back from the poster. But the comments came off as spammy and quickly became frowned upon by the mainstream community. Over time, the "Lb" ecosystem found its perfect home: Young, popular, and massively followed, Kendall and Kylie never stood a chance against the "Lb" horde. Today, their comments are virtual message boards for underground attention-seekers—each looking to become the next Instagram celebrity.

But what's the value of empty likes? / Via

Great question. It may well be that the engagement economy is contributing to like inflation on Instagram and devaluing the impact of likes overall. While Instagrammers who already offer valuable content and have strong followings might be able to use "Lb" to get a small boost in engagement, it seems unlikely that inauthentic likes can prop up an account that offers little of value to the community over time. Ultimately, then, it would seem that the best way to succeed on Instagram—as in life—is to offer real value.

How to Kendall and Kylie feel about all of this?


This is a saga as old as time (or 4 years at least). This was from all the way back in 2012!


calm down with this "LB" "R4R" stuff. people are really desperate for some likes. lol...

The "Lb" crew still hasn't healed from this 2013 Kendall burn.

More recently, Kylie announced that she would be disabling Instagram comments to stop the "Lb" madness.

So I'm trying out disabling my comments on Instagram because I'm done w people self promoting & the "LB"s 😊


The experiment didn't last long, though. / Via

Kylie experimented with disabling comments on and off for about six weeks before reopening the floodgates.

Maybe she realized that she was getting returns from the black market, too.

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