Recently, Instagram announced hiding “likes” that posts have accumulated to start the test as a way of creating “a less pressurized environment” on the app and to encourage users to focus more on the content than the number of likes. Initially, Instagram has been trialing a new formula in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand by concealing the number of likes a post has received. While the users who are parts of the test will be able to see likes by themselves, their followers will not. This is applied to video views as well.
And there’s been a lot of chat about whether or not this change will signal the end of the Instagram influencers. This change is not global yet, so we may not be able to analyze the whole effects, but one thing is certain that this move has the potential to dramatically change the commercial landscape of this platform.
What does it mean for Influencers?
Somewhere along the line, the platform changed from casual posts, to precisely curated, well thought out, artistic creations invented particularly to get likes and comments, so, as a result of a change like this, it is expected that Instagram will turn to more “healthy” environment.
However, marketing experts say the changes could also further incentivize brands to put paid media support behind their influencer posts, and also to focus on Instagram Stories, the video and photo posts that are only live on Instagram temporarily.
The potential change could also mean that influencer content will need to become higher quality since users won’t be able to lean on the number of likes their posts are receiving when a brand considers working with them. Marketers will still be able to look at an influencer’s follower count, but that metric doesn’t mean much in the way of showing how “engaged” a user’s audience is.
Youngsters vs Adults
From the adult influencers’ perspective hiding those numbers are like a pretty juvenile way to treat them and seem like something that would be perfect for users under 18 instead. The disappearance of the likes total has had little impact on their online life and they believe the company’s decision could increase users’ comfort by posting authentic material and displaying their creativity. In fact, likes have become so devalued that a picture of an egg holds the record for winning the most.
Compared to the adults, younger generations’ entire digital landscape has been defined by numbers and metrics.
Hilton, who has a personal account as well as one for his dog, the latter with more than 3,200 followers, added that he understands why Instagram is doing this. Hilton said his younger sister, who is in high school, is “obsessed” with likes. “It’s mostly for the younger generation, people in high school,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure. If someone has 1,000 likes and someone has two likes, that probably makes them feel not very nice.”
The change will probably slow down the Instagram influencer world a little bit, a lot of young influencers now are using live videos, not static photos, to build their following. And they will definitely find a way around if the platform will apply this change globally.
How will it affect the brands who depends on likes on their Instagram posts to sell their products?
Likes are a huge part of Instagram’s business model and how they monetize the platform, so it seems like an odd move to make on a full-time basis.
Professionally, that might be a little harder to explain to clients and also to brands that it shouldn’t be an issue but it just means that they will need to use third-party metric platforms to see the actual likes moving forward.
Besides, as a business or brand, you will be looking for more than just likes anyway (as these can be purchased) when engaging influencers. There are way more metrics for serious businesses and influencers than just likes.
On the bright side, this change may have the effect of drying up the economy for fraudulent likes on Instagram since they would no longer be as valuable when it comes to showing engagement. Plus, when it comes to the clients of major brands like Pepsi or McDonald’s, engagement is already less of a priority. Trialing an Instagram without likes is a small gesture that is not nearly as dramatic as it sounds, and it’s one that weakly waves at the problem, rather than doing very much to handle it.