Instagram has launched a new 'Thank You Hour' initiative, which will see Stories frames that include the new 'Thank You Hour' sticker added to a collective Story that showcases the various things that people are appreciative for amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As explained by Instagram:
"Today we’re launching Thank You Hour, a sticker in stories that lets you show gratitude for what's helping you through this time. Use the sticker and your photo or video will be added to a shared Instagram story at 7 p.m. your time where friends can see your thanks."
The collective Thank You Hour story will respect existing privacy settings, so your Story content won't be visible to everybody in the app. But if you add the new sticker, it will be shown to all of your connections in a new shared Thank You Hour story, which will be made available at 7pm local time each day.
It's the latest of Instagram's cause-related stickers, which are designed to provide more ways for users to engage around certain subjects, and share their support for the same via their Stories.
Instagram's already added two other cause stickers amid the COVID-19 lockdowns - a 'Thanks Health Heroes' sticker to pay tribute to healthcare workers, and a 'Stay Home' sticker, which similarly sees content added to a collective 'Stay Home' so people can share their experiences.
It's a simple way to help Instagram users rally around certain causes, and through this type of sharing, it could also help to communicate key messages, and encourage participation in COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Going on the medical evidence, COVID-19 doesn't pose a major health risk for those under 40 years of age, but it can be fatal for the elderly, or for people with certain pre-existing conditions. That's meant that some younger people have taken a more lax approach to containment measures - but the problem that's emerged more recently is that many people are asymptomatic, meaning that they may have contracted, and be spreading COVID-19 without their knowledge, even if, for them, it has no impact.
That poses a significant problem for containment - which is why it's vital that everyone respects the advice from health professionals and maintains social distancing and quarantine measures, even if they personally feel fine and are in a low-risk category.
This is where Instagram can play an important role. The majority of Instagram's user base is under the age of 34, and as such, they likely don't consider COVID-19 to be a significant threat to them. But they may well be facilitating further spread - by providing more ways for users to share their personal experiences, and to call on each other to participate in mitigation efforts, that can help to reinforce key messages, with these prompts coming from the people that they know and trust, as opposed to more abstract government and health authority messaging.
It may seem like a relatively small measure in the broader scheme, but research has shown that socially reinforced messaging - i.e. messages that show that your friends have participated - can carry significant weight, and prompt increased action as a result.
That's why Instagram is looking for ways to add in new cause-based stickers and Stories like this, while such initiatives also provide an outlet for people to share and relate while socially isolated.