On Thursday, Nov 14th 2019, Instagram removed Likes from a portion of their users.
So what’s REALLY happening and how will it directly impact you?
That’s what I’m going to dive into in this article, plus at the end, I’ll throw in my prediction of where this all goes from here.
What is really happening? Instagram is removing the ability to see the number of likes someone has received on a post. The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, says that it’s “About creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
So basically, Instagram doesn’t want people, especially young people, getting caught up in popularity contests or having comparisonitis , comparing themselves to others & focusing too much on getting more likes than others.
Now as you scroll through Instagram, you will be able to see the names of some of the people who have liked a post, but you are not able to see a total like count.
How Does This Affect You?
It’s important to understand that you will still be able to see this information for your own account under the Insights section of Instagram. It just won’t be so in your face, AND you will not be able to see the like count on other people’s posts.
Now this change has already been in affect and tested in 7 countries, so you may have been seeing this for awhile if you are located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, or New Zealand. Last Thursday, this finally started to roll out and to be tested with a portion of the users in the US. The United States is by far where the highest number of Instagram users are located. So this was a big step.
It’s Not Just Instagram
Now what’s interesting is that Instagram isn’t alone on this. Facebook has started testing this in September in Australia and Twitter is discussing it as well. There has been a lot of media attention about mental health and all pressure people feel to get likes on social media.
It could just be a play to get good press, I’m choosing to see it as a good sign that they are actually looking to make a difference and help with all the craziness for kids growing up in a social media world.
Facebook, the parent company of Instagram has reported that they are excited by the early test results they are seeing in removing likes. Now it’s important to note that not only is Facebook hiding likes from people’s posts in their tests, they are also hiding likes on ads. Which is something we need to dive further into how it can impact us all.
How This Affects Your Marketing?
As a marketer or entrepreneur on social media, we often use a powerful psychological tool, called Social Proof. This is a phenomenon that if people see other people are doing something, they are more likely to do it themselves.
In the example of likes, they are more likely to Like something if they see other people are liking it. Typically, the more people they see doing something, the more likely they are to do it themselves. So if they aren’t seeing those Like numbers, they may not be as likely to Like it themselves.
However, it doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing or that it will hurt you. It’s just something to be aware of. People will still be able to see all of the Comments on a post, so you will still have Comments to help with Social Proof and also to help you know if people have real, not fake, engaged audiences.
And THAT is a concern that I’ve heard voiced from others about this change. That it will be harder to tell if someone has real followers or at least engaged followers if you can’t see the number of likes. For example, if someone has 100K followers on their account, but they only get 20 likes on each post, you know something is up.
Some people have also voiced concerns about this harming people’s ability, especially smaller accounts, to get brand deals, since people won’t see up front how engaged their audience is without seeing likes. But while it may change some of the dynamics of negotiating brand deals, I really don’t think this is the case.
What’s MOST Important
What is WAY more important for brands is that your audience is truly engaged, not just that you have a big reach. A much more powerful metric to see how engaged an audience is and how likely they are to make a purchase based on someone’s recommendation is the amount of quality Comments they are receiving.
So Instagram removing likes is unliking to have a significant impact on brand deals.
How Will This Affect Your Account & Business?
You may see some short-term negative impacts just as everyone gets used to the changes, but I think you may see an overall benefit in the long-term. Honestly, we see this type of thing time and time again when it comes to the internet. YouTube, Facebook, Google, whoever makes a change to their platform and it really shakes things up. Maybe it hits your bottom-line up front. BUT people learn to adjust and typically the end result is better all around. I’ve known people whose businesses were hit hard from big changes seen on YouTube or with Google ads. Yeah, they’ll tell you that it sucked BUT if they are honest, they also admit that it’s a better platform now.
Remember, the internet always changes. It’s those of us who learn to adjust and pivot as necessary that continue to grow and flourish… SO Instagram removing likes isn’t Instagram Apocalypse.
I have high hopes that these changes will be helpful to all of us and the Instagram platform as a whole. What we may see is that since people aren’t just going to be posting whatever gives the most likes, that people will be free to be more creative and may actually create better content.
AND without the social proof factor for getting likes, it may allow smaller accounts that create great content to grow more quickly. Getting Likes & exposure simply from the fact they have great content. And some of the giant accounts that can monopolize the algorithm may no longer get a crazy amount of likes without social proof IF the content really isn’t that good or unique.
True Confession & Hope…
Now it’s confession time. We have built up a very large following on Instagram, but over the last year or so I’ve actually become fairly disenfranchised with it and kinda started to avoid it. I just got so sick of seeing the photoshopped, picture perfect photos, and I started to feel like it was just too fake and that real people who can’t afford to hire photographers & do photoshoots, OR who weren’t willing to do boob, butt, or bikini photos where really limited on how much success they could see on Instagram. It was all too staged and really a huge turnoff for me.
BUT with this change, I am very hopeful that this is the beginning of an overall culture change within Instagram. Bringing back real life, real people, and creative creators. Cause honestly, if I have to look at another picture-perfect staged photo of you working in your white, pink, & gold office… I might have to ralph….
So I encourage you to see this as an opportunity to grow, get more real, and more creative with your Instagram account.
Now, if you’d like some help with free tools that can help you do that and give a boost to your Instagram game, then check out THIS VIDEO and watch that one next.
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