On April 30th, Instagram announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Jose that it would begin testing a feature in Canada that would hide the like counts on photos/videos on selected public accounts on Instagram. This means that the number of engagements posts receive will be hidden from the public. Why is Instagram Hiding Likes and how is it affecting their brand with over 1 billion monthly users? Let’s dive into all of that.
Facebook claims that they are doing this to take away focus from vanity and more on the quality of content. With likes not being sought after anymore, Facebook believes it is possible that the overall posting pattern will focus less on back-side bikini pictures and food porn and more on everyday life.
Is this a sound Argument?
The problem with this argument is that users are no longer resonating with the “click bait lifestyles”. Social media Influencers such as Gary Vaynerchuk are at the center of the social media culture shift. Everything is moving towards authenticity and away from pictures and videos with rented Lamborghinis and food porn.
Additionally with Instagram’s most recent June 4th update, automation softwares have seemingly vanished for the time being eliminating the majority of spam and gimmicky marketing on the platform. By reducing spam engagements on posts, it’s hard to understand why Instagram hiding likes all together is the next step.
Will there be a need to continue to boost posts?
Another important point to mention is that Facebook has always promoted boosting posts and advertising on their platforms in order to grow audience, reach and engagement level. Many users boost their posts on Facebook and Ins
tagram for the specific reason of boosting their engagement on posts. By eliminating the incentive to promote your engagement for cosmetic purposes, Facebook will also lose out on precious ad dollars. Their average usage time per day continues to drop on their largest platform.
Will this eliminate Instagram users right to vote?
Engaging on posts is similar to voting. For years users have enjoyed their ability to “vote” on posts that they enjoy via likes. The most recent example of this was the World Record Egg that generated almost 57 million engagements.It set a record for most likes on a post on Instagram. This made users feel like they were a part of history. Ultimately, they got to decide what the most liked post on the platform would be. Instagram hiding likes will but a big damper in their users having the freedom to vote.
It seems contradictory…
It seems contradictory that Facebook would want to eliminate like count in order to re-focus on content. They are adding additional paid marketing correspondence and embedded goods for sale into posts. This subliminally distracts users from the content in general!
For years, coaxing users to engage on the content they like has been the most effective call to action on social media. However, we are now beginning to see more ads on stories and feeds as well as shoppable posts. This shifts focus from users engaging with content. It instead promotes the user spending more time away from the platform as a whole.
Mental Health questions
Another main focus from hiding likes, again according to Facebook, is to raise self-esteem and promote mental health awareness for younger users. Although according to Randi Priluck, a professor and associate dean at Pace University, “…users still being able to see their own likes does not help the situation, it doesn’t fix the fact that kids will still be jealous of other’s lives and can feel left out.”
Although many believe this has mental health benefits, this will stillgreatly affect influencers who make their money on the platform.
How will the Influencers React?
Instagram has dominated the influencer marketing space over the last 24 months with over 87% of Influencers reporting that their main platform was Instagram in 2018. The prime metric of differentiation for influencers from everyone else on Instagram is their engagement level.
This engagement number (likes, comments) adds perceptual value to an influencers brand as well as adds true business value (Shoutouts cost roughly 10-15% of engagement in USD i.e 1,000 engagements = $100-150 per shoutout).
With over 1 billion users, engagement is what separates influencers from the pack. Instagram hiding likes will eliminate that differentiation factor in the eyes of their audience and prospective sponsors.
Engagement drives usage, and when users feel they do not have a voice they will become frustrated. Furthermore giving influencers a reason to migrate to other platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and LinkedIn.
As you can imagine, wherever the people of influence go, the masses will follow.
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