Expertise Work Clients Workshop YOÔ, the platform Grooplay, the platform
4/09/2019

How removing Instagram’s like count feature will affect the influencer industry

Back in April, Instagram announced they would be testing a new feature that would hide the amount of likes users receive on posts.

Remember this egg? It holds the title of the most liked picture on Instagram.
But soon,  it may be consigned to oblivion… 💔

Before starting, here’s a little update for whoever has no idea what I’m talking about.

Back in April,  Instagram announced they would be testing a new feature that would hide the amount of likes users receive on posts. They initially started testing the new feature in Canada, and expanded the tests to Italy, Ireland, Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Instagram explained their motive behind the decision was that it wants its users to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT US MERE MORTALS ?

Likes are the de facto way of measuring value on a users post. Meaning users will focus on posting pictures which will get them more engagement rather than posting content that speaks to them. Most of us can agree that sadly, likes has become how someone measures their self worth - while it may boost your self-esteem, it's also the reason why it may occasionally be broken. Incapacitating people from seeing the amount of likes you receive will (hopefully) take some of that pressure off- no longer will you feel embarrassed or pressured to delete a post simply because it hasn’t received the necessary amount of likes you deem necessary (something I’ve admittedly done many times). 

And what does the necessary amount of likes even mean?
Are you ever really satisfied?

I remember feeling extra cool when I passed the 50 likes mark. Today, if my post doesn’t get a minimum of 200 likes, I question my whole social existence (jk…). 
How many likes did my friend get? Who liked who’s post? How quickly did they get to x amount of likes? Pointless comparisons who all eventually lead to disappointment.
I commend Instagram’s decision to disable like counts (if they do follow through with it). 
Despite comparing and counting likes being quite entertaining at times (we’ve all gloated after an ex or frenemy’s post got embarrassingly few likes … or maybe I’m just an a**hole), at the end of the day, it’s more detrimental than it is beneficial. 


HOW WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR AVERAGE INFLUENCER ?

It won’t really (or not as much as you’d think).
Since instagram provides users with in depth analytics, businesses weren’t really basing an influencer’s worth based on the amount of likes they received per post, but rather the reach their post had. 
Of course, one can deduce an influencers reach based on the amount of likes they receive - so the only thing that might change is the initial influencer-brand approach: rather than waiting to be approached by a brand, influencers will possibly need to reach out to businesses themselves, and share their profile analytics to prove their value (which is something most businesses require anyways). 

Despite not extensively changing they way an influencer does business; removing likes should (hopefully) incite influencers to reevaluate the kind of original content they want to provide their followers with - now that the pressure to create « like worthy » content is hindered.

Although saying we’ll only see genuine and raw content might be over-stretching it, influencers will be able to shift their point of interest beyond impressing people with the obscene amount of likes they receive when posting a pic featuring their #sixpack and barely visible sunset, to posting creative driven content, which would probably receive less likes, but will result to an increased engagement rate in the long term - as authenticity always leads to to higher engagement.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE INFLUENCER BLACK M💀RKET ?

Influencer Fraud: influencers who resort to bot farms to boost engagement and appear more popular than what they truly are.
According to Cheq (a cyber security company specialized in the universe of  digital media) Influencer frauds will cost advertisers approximately $1.3 billion this year (this deserve a whole story of its own).
While Instagram has penalized Instagramers resorting to these unethical, borderline illegal, practices, it hasn’t stopped users from using the services. 
With Instagram hiding the like count, the platform has efficiently taken away Influencers’ need to fake popularity through the amount of likes received - even though this might push users to employ other means).

Although only testing the function, Instagram’s decision is admirable - with the pros greatly outweighing the cons. 
Hiding likes might also end up being somewhat lucrative for the app, as it may encourage marketers to invest more funds into Instagram’s in-app paid advertising instead of solely using influencers as marketing tools. 
Also, begone bitter-sweet torture of waiting for likes to roll in after a freshly posted Instagram picture - neurotically refreshing the like page, hoping to more you refresh it, the more likes you’re magically going to get. You know you’ve done it; I know I have. 

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Guillaume François @WOÔ