Instagram is testing a new feature that could have major implications for marketers, influencers, and retailers all over the world. Over the summer Facebook announced that Instagram would be removing the ability of others to see the total number of likes and video views in Instagram posts in their feeds. Users will still be able to access these numbers for their own posts, just not anyone else’s.
This test is currently being run in seven countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. There’s no word yet on where the experiment will head next or when it will hit the United States, but the social media marketing and influencing world has thoughts ranging from rejoicing to raging.
The Pressure of Popularity
So why are these changes happening now? Instagram has reported that this decision was spurred by the platform’s desire to take the pressure off of its users to be constantly gaining validation from social media popularity. Research has uncovered some serious mental health consequences of playing the comparison game online, equating likes to self-worth.
For the general public, this shift in perspective and motivation behind posting and interacting on the Gram might be a great idea. But what about brands and influencers who use the platform professionally? How will their careers be impacted by the removal of likes?
Implications for Influencers
Genuine and authentic influencers will be better off in the long run. Removing likes will weed out those who have artificially inflated their posts with fake likes from Instagram pods or purchased followers. Being unable to see the likes another influencer gets on a post could decrease the amount of copycat content creation sparked by “like fads”. How many pictures of a girl in a bikini lounging on an inflatable swan raft did you see last summer? Some influencers might see this as a negative, but this change will make the demand for creativity rise. Everyone will have to work harder to figure out what’s working for themselves and try new things to stand out.
The Cons and Uncertainties
Influencers might fight it more difficult to validate their work in certain spaces and justify payment demands to brands. They’ll have to lean more on engagement (comments and clicks) and less on passive likes to track interest and visibility. Many content creators might also be forced to pivot more heavily to video. Facebook and Instagram are already making a push for stories, and video creates other opportunities for measuring metrics and KPIs.
Implications for Small Businesses
Without “vanity metrics” influencers will be forced to increase actual conversions (affiliate link clicks, purchases,etc.) to validate a collaboration or campaign. This means businesses will be equipped with hard data on ROI to inform them of where to spend their money so they can get the most meaningful reach. The more concrete the engagement, the more focused brands can be with dollars and free product.
The Cons and Uncertainties
Due to the Instagram algorithm decreasing influencers’ visibility and now removing likes, businesses may need to increase their volume of paid media. Actually putting money behind boosted posts to increase exposure and targeting might be the only way to guarantee content gets seen. This also happens to be great for Insta’s checkbook—coincidence or not?
Society as a whole might get a little mental health boost as a result of Instagram’s new likes “ban.” Without that dopamine rush and subsequent crash that comes along comparing your own likes to those of your coworkers or college roommates, people might actually stick to engaging with the content they love.
Businesses might need to pivot their strategies and spending, but influencers are going to have the biggest mountain to climb if this new test spreads and stands the test of time. There’s never been a bigger opportunity for brands and influencers to focus more on active engagement and less on passive praise.
Want to learn more about how these new Instagram changes could directly impact your company’s social media strategy and success? Contact an expert at &Marketing for a free consultation.
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