To Like Or To Not Like: How Instagram Hiding Likes is Affecting Content Creators
“The only constant in life is change” is a quote we hear often and witness first hand. It is especially true when it comes to the ever-evolving world of social media.
Throughout the past few weeks Instagram has been testing the removal of Likes in a few selected countries. This has triggered a storm of reactions from content creators (and your average Instagram fan), when it comes to being in favor or against the proposed change. As a result, influencers around the world are assessing how said changes could impact their bottom line.
Currently, Instagram announced it is running test trials in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Users in these countries will be able to see one username “and others” written under each post. So, what’s driving the change?
Social media apps like Instagram have been receiving increasing negative feedback on how they adversely affect users’ self-esteem, self-worth, and mental state, especially among teenagers.
According to BBC News, about 90% of young people are regular social media users.
Instagram has acknowledged the reports and claims that removing the “likes” option is an effort to alleviate pressure on its users.
“Keeping Instagram a safe and supportive place, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, is our top priority- particularly when it comes to young people,” Michelle Napchan, Instagram’s Head of Policy (EMEA), said.
Although, parents might rejoice at the news, there is a whole segment that is scrambling to understand the implications of such change on their livelihood: Influencers! We all know that they get paid for their sponsored posts and that businesses wanting to hire them usually measure influencers’ success by the number of likes their posts garner. Is this beginning of the end for the phenomenon of influencers?
“They said they’re doing it to take the competition out of posting. I’m not in competition with anyone on Instagram, I’m here to run a business," fitness influencer Jem Wolfe said to ABC Australia's Hack. "They’re taking a tool away that’s really important for us. I’m still going to keep posting as much as before, but it’s demotivating for me.”
To ease such concerns Instagram has stated that businesses can still see metrics like engagement rates, impressions, and reach.
Users of the platforms will still be able to view their own posts’ number of likes, can screenshot the numbers and share them with marketers and brands.
However, this proposal does not accommodate the needs of up-and-coming or aspiring influencers as businesses scouting for new influencers tend to look at the “likes” a specific user gets per post. In other words, if the number of “likes” are hidden, how will businesses be able to scout for new influencers?
But not all influencers are unhappy at these changes.
Tess Montgomery, an influencer with over twenty-six thousand followers, thinks Instagram removing “likes” is a really good thing. She believes this will help increase creativity and will promote better mental health. She also believes that it will encourage users to post more.
“I have a feeling that this is one of the main reasons why Instagram might want to remove the likes. We have stopped posting as much out of fear of diluting our likes, annoying our followers and have a photo with bad engagement. If no one can see the likes more than us, hopefully, this won’t matter as much and we might dare to put up more photos. The trend is to post less and less, something that removing likes might change," she writes on her blog, Tess M.
The interesting question is then why stop at removing what others see and not also what you see on your posts? Doesn’t seeing your own “likes” numbers defeat Instagram’s announced motives? If one equates number of likes to likability and in turn affects one’s self-esteem, then seeing one’s own like count will still negatively affect perception of self-worth and mental health. Also, won’t people just substitute their obsession of like counts to that of comment counts?
Young users don’t like to be steered on their free time and if they get the slightest inclination that Instagram is forcing certain undesirable changes on them, these youngsters will have no issue jumping ship and moving to another hot new social media app.
As for the Influencers, they are a resilient group and will always find a way to survive and thrive.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.
Sioufi is an experienced fashion designer and blogger, who founded and worked as an Editor-in-Chief for a prominent fashion college. She is a veteran fashionista who after getting her Bachelor’s in Political Science decided fashion was what she truly loved. After having 3 kids, Rosine found her way back to her passion and has accumulated several fashion diplomas. She’s attended Esmod, London College of Fashion and CFD-Dubai and was recognized by Majid Al Futtaim Group at their MOE Bloom Competition where she was awarded Best Design.