Instagram: How is Losing the 'Likes' Making an Impact
We don't all need a personal shutterbug... or do we?
Millions and millions of people rely on social media influencers even when it comes to choosing which cereal they'll have for breakfast.
Instagram users have been shaping young people's reality and influencing them: from the food they eat, products they use, the music they listen to, to their appearance and mental health. There are infinite examples of how influencer culture is affecting our behavior.
Young people have been blooming their businesses through their grand social media presence and reality TV carers. And it looks like the train has no chance of slowing down. By sometimes twisting the idea of what is normal, social media influencers have been making an impact that hasn't always been positive.
That's when Instagram steps in to save the day you might say?
Hmm, turns out not everyone likes when Instagram is playing a superhero.
Why is Instagram Making Likes Private?
If you live in Australia, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland or the United States, chances are you have seen how Instagram likes are evaporating. While still in the trial phase, some people have already tested going like-free.
"Are you FOR REAL?" You might ask. Yes, even though Instagram is a platform that is universally known because of that heart shape we click on every day, it turns out we can live without it.
Brace yourselves, Instagram isn't planning on shutting this down. It all started in Canada last May, and since November when it arrived in the United States, people haven't been particularly happy.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced this feature at the WIRED25 conference in San Francisco.
And if you were too lazy to watch that, what Adam is saying is that he did this to depressurize Instagram for the young people and make it less of a competition.
According to Adam, this will give people a chance to really connect with each other and be inspired by the things they enjoy doing.
How Does It Work?
Here's how it works:
If you post a picture, the number of likes will be hidden from the public and only you as a user will be able to see how many people liked your photo.
This means that your followers, or anyone who sees your photo (if you have a public profile) won't be able to see how many people engaged with your content.
As the creator of the photo, you can see the number of people and which people liked your photo by tapping "others".
So does this mean that posts will be getting much less reach than before?
I'd be lying if I said that hiding likes doesn't affect the general opinion of people.
How many times have you clicked like on something, just because '353 others' also did that before you? Looks like when people are not seeing a number of likes, they don't feel compelled to like something they don't truly find inspiring and/or creative.
Making an Impact and Reactions
In recent years, social media platforms have been known to contribute to technology obsession and helping the spread of insulting information.
According to a study from 2016 published in Psychological Science, the same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are triggered when teenagers see a large number of 'likes' on their photos. The teens were also more likely to click on types of photographs that had more 'likes' on them.
In addition to this, I asked Angela Lazova, graduated Psychologist to share her thoughts on the matter:
“We know that Instagram can fulfill teenagers' desire for social belonging and approval and have a positive effect on self-expression and self-identity. So, in this context, social media sites could be used as a tool for good. Unfortunately, up until now, most research suggests that the way we use social media increases depression and loneliness. Even though they can be useful, it seems like we aren't using them right.” Angela said, and also added that “Removing the like count could be a great way to remedy this trend.”
Now that we know that the hiding of the likes is good when it comes to regular people and their mental health, what about brands?
Brands also shouldn't be worried. Instagram has reassured everyone that this change won’t affect measurement tools for businesses and creators. All of the analytics and statistics are still accessible.
What is the challenge then?
Well, gaining traction organically becomes more troublesome.
A study by HypeAuditor found out that many brands and influencers lost up to 15% of their likes in countries where Instagram hid the counts.
This opens up a lot of questions. But, Social Media Link CEO Susan Frech reaffirms this renewed importance around authenticity, saying, "The future of Instagram will be about authentic influence rather than bloated credit."
After all, Instagram is created for the people, not for the brands.
While reducing anxiety is a fair explanation for the move, the flight of 'like' has grown several concerns among businesses around social media engagement and brand awareness.
Influencer marketing is a significant tool for brands from all industries to reach broader audiences. Influencers have been used as a 'piggyback ride' from some companies, who relied on the fame of social media figures to sell their products. The strategy here is simple: all it takes is the right partnership with a relevant player, and my product can go sky-high.
This can be a problem after Instagram started hiding the likes. That's where digital marketing steps in.
I'm afraid that in order for your brand to be seen or grown, you'll need to rely more heavily than ever on boosting posts and promotions.
Instagram is hitting the influencer’s pocket, which seems like a reasonable enough reason, considering how much money they make advertising third-party products on a free platform.
Understandably, a lot of brands are disturbed by this and they are blaming Instagram for wanting a bigger piece of the cake when it comes to profit.
On the bright side, imagine how much focus will be put on the type of content that is created by influencers and brands?
Posting just about anything won’t work. Quality over quantity is back in the game!
Instead of focusing on display metrics such as likes, brands and influencers should stop with the pretentiousness and take a deep dive into the quality of content.
From a brand perspective, this change will allow your business to show the bigger picture to the world. Imagine how much more link clicks, shares and profile views you might gain if you have an awesome digital strategy that will create amazing content.
Instagram Stories and video (IGTV) are the most popular instruments for overall influencer social media engagement, both of which prove more popular than your common Facebook post or Tweet.
Although Instagram Stories do not display public engagement metrics, most-viewed Instagram Stories are produced by businesses. This is a medium that’s concentrated merely on connecting with the audience and 'likes' and comments don't matter here. That's why it’s so powerful and effective.
In addition to enduring the power of Instagram Stories (96% of US marketers alone plan to continue using Stories ads in the coming months), experts believe that IGTV could be the next big thing for Instagram marketers.
Getting creative never goes out of style. For example, Netflix got over a million views to their 1-hour video of Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger. Entertaining?
Seems like this proves that people like unique content when it comes to promoting something, in this case the new season of a series which believe it or not has nothing to do with hamburgers.
To Wrap Things Up
My advice would be to adapt your strategy if you live in the 'affected countries'.
I'm afraid that if you have an already booming Instagram presence you may find a numerous drop in likes, and if you’re just starting from scratch then traction may be slow.
You can overcome this problem by implementing paid strategies on Instagram, or beginning a multi-channel strategy that will help you grow your organic presence faster.
Whichever strategy you choose, use your content to express your tone of voice, to share your real thoughts and to add value to the shared posts, more than ever before.
Don't forget that by crafting a more inclusive, welcoming brand identity, you will attract more attention, and cultivate greater appreciation with people.
Let those hearts drop, if it means rising the self-love and self-confidence all around the globe.