Remember the good ol’ days when Instagram was just a place for posting your pictures with a tasteful Valencia filter and tacky border? A time before it became a popularity competition for likes and follows? Well in early 2019, Instagram announced the idea of hiding and removing like counts from public view following a design tweak, before rolling out tests in Canada and Ireland. As of earlier today, Australia has now been added to the list of six countries including Italy, Japan, Brazil and New Zealand embracing Instagram’s game-changing, like-free reality. Although we are usually reluctant to welcome any changes to Facebook and Instagram, our newsfeed will be pretty much the same without those little numbers. But is this new update #instagood or #instabad?
For the general public, this new change can be good as Instagram states that their main focus is mental health. The company has noted that they want to give users the freedom of expression without the added pressure of popularity, which is often viewed as a metric of success.
“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they
share, not how many likes they get.”
How will this affect digital marketers and social media managers?
As for brands and digital marketing agencies, a like-free Instagram world won’t necessarily change the way we analyse and report on data but it will push advertisers to think past vanity metrics such as likes. It is also very likely that we will see a universal drop in these engagement metrics on Instagram posts due to people being less likely to interact with a post that they aren’t able to see, at a glance, how engaged others are with it. Following this, businesses are predicted to reflect on their performance without relying on vanity metrics to measure their creativity.
What will happen to influencers?
Following the implications for users globally, influencers will be the ones receiving the most impact from this change. With influencers being an integral part of social media marketing for many years in our digital landscape, the relationship between brands and their ambassadors will head towards a more authentic direction.
According to Lia Haberman, the Former VP Audience Development at Livestrong, hidden likes might shift away the need for influencer marketing and towards paid advertising.
“ …this likely to increase the amount of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.”
Whilst health & wellness influencer, Dave Coast (@davecoast) welcomes the new update explaining that:
“[brands] will start looking at other metrics that derive more meaning, like reach or impressions or saves. Influencers and users will be more willing to post more artsy/cool/different content if likes are hidden.”
Do you think Instagram has made a terrible mistake and should change it back or is it a wonderful step into a positive, more inclusive world for media?