Instagram has decided to experiment with removing likes from posts in a bid to reduce pressure on the platform’s users, while also taking away the ‘vanity’ element of counting post likes.
While likes will be hidden on posts, users will still be able to view like-counts on their own posts. However, while Instagram is taking the mental health stance as a reason for removing like-counts, I can’t help but think this could be a shift to focus the platform more towards product purchases and therefore further monetise the channel.
Despite receiving some negative attention with people wondering if this is the end of the influencer movement, will removing likes actually make influencer’s content, and engagement with their followers, more authentic? It appears Instagram is trying to move back to what the app was originally designed for; sharing beautiful and inspirational images, and away from just being a popularity-based catalogue of influencer ads. So, will this change stop people from liking content based on others liking it? Will this mean users only engage with content when they actually personally like and relate to it, rather than being influenced by the behaviour of others, and therefore make ‘influence’ more authentic? Or will marketers simply move to look at other metrics to see how popular content and profiles are, such as comments and followers?
I often see influencers with huge followings gaining thousands of likes on their post, but when looking at the comments, the influencer often does not engage in conversation with their community and following. If people shift to looking at comments instead of likes, it’s possible influencers will be forced to engage with their audience to try and increase engagements and comments on their post. In turn, this could help enhance the profile of influencer marketing by adding a layer of authenticity while also making them more ‘human’.
Along with the number of likes being hidden, we’re also expecting another change on Instagram which was announced at F8; the introduction of shoppable influencer posts. This arrival will allow users to buy directly from influencer’s content. This could see brands and influencers measuring the success of content by purchases, rather than likes.
In summary, taking away like-counts from Instagram is a great way to remove self-validation and lifestyle comparison often viewed as the root cause of negative self-image and mental health concerns. This change, in my opinion, will also enhance the influencer-user relationship while encouraging engagement and conversation. Therefore, the overall changes on Instagram will help brands realise the value of influencers on the platform as a steer towards monetising content, and using purchases over likes as a metric, takes place.
By Sarah Packeer, Senior Social Media Manager