I read the news and celebrated silently. The removal of Instagram displaying likes on any given post that is. My kids and step kids are obsessed with likes. And gushy comments. And they’re mainly interested in those of the instagram kind. And so is a large chunk of the influencer industry.
In case you hadn’t heard, since mid July 2019 Instagram users in Australia will no longer see the number of ‘likes’ an Instagram post receives. All that now displays is one person’s name (love to know how they choose that one person) + others.
Users can click on the post in question and see the number of likes their own posts received but publicly, no one will know, and that’s a big change, but a welcome one from where we sit.
1/ It’s bad for our kids
It’s a researched fact that ’likes’ are a source of anxiety for young people and Instagram, Snapchat and our generally ‘wired life’ is having negative effects on our children’s health and mental wellbeing.
Two years ago, a UK study of people aged 14 – 24 found that Instagram was the worst social media platform for young people’s mental health; last year the Pew Research Center found 37 per cent of teens felt “pressure” to post content that will get a lot of likes and comments; and this year, research from the American Psychological Association linked mental health issues and an increase of suicide rates in young Americans to digital media.
2/ It’s created a monster of an influencer industry
We play in this industry and we can’t say we always like it. Many influencers affected by the change have called it “sad day for those who have Instagram as a job” and saw the change as a threat to the influencer economy which relies heavily on visible engagement with promotional posts.
Owing to their swag of vanity likes on any given post, some influencers we’ve worked with command outrageous fees, and aren’t particularly professional or pleasant to work with. Anything that takes them down a notch and gets them meeting actual contractual obligations has to be a good thing.
So how did the change even come about?
According to Mia Garlick, the Director of Public Policy for Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand, the change was made to take the “competition” out of posting.
Facebook, who own Instagram know people come to Instagram to express themselves and to be creative and follow their passions. And Garlick says they want to make sure it’s not a competition (See: https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/instagram-hiding-likes/11318748)
What do we think will happen next
With the likes gone, we anticipate people on Instagram will simply start to focus on other measures of social validation such as followers, comments and shares.
For those hooked on a feedback loop, they’ll still be looking for it. Gosh, people might even begin to interact a little more than a red heart of a gesture.
From our side reporting and analytics features are still available in the back end of profiles for users with business accounts so proving things are working is still business as usual.
With likes becoming less relevant, we hope, just as Facebook does, that people will ultimately connect more by taking the time to comment instead of just like.