November 28, 2022

On Instagram Straight Flexing?

Symone Sparrow: In the US, Facebook is still king in terms of social media platforms, but coming in at a close second is Instagram. Although owned by Facebook, Instagram functions very differently. Options to engage with content are limited to a couple of internal app functions (without assistance from other apps), likes and comments. It was announced last week that one of those functions – likes, is in jeopardy of being altered by Instagram

What does eliminating likes mean for an influencer heavy platform like Instagram? Where obtaining likes could be a major piece of an influencer’s contract. Many celebrities have raced to the platform to share their dismay with Instagram altering the organic algorithm for how likes are shown on the platform for some users. None were louder than rap artist, Nicki Minaj. Nicki not only posted videos on her Instagram stories saying that she would stop using the platform, but she also went to Twitter to share her feelings. 

However, not all celebrities are against Instagram removing likes. Kim Kardashian West, one of the top influencers of the social media generation went on record to say that she thinks removing likes will be beneficial to the mental health of users

Like most things in our society, there are definitely mixed feelings. Some influencers feel that the removal of likes will greatly diminish the value of the social site for both influencers and brands. Whereas some are quite ok with the removal of likes.

As we learned from our guest speaker, Kent Lewis a couple of weeks ago, influencers can be paid based on a few different metrics. It depends on what the company paying the influencer and the influencer value and agree on. Maybe moving away from likes and on to comments, or clicks on purchase links will make it some influencers are tied to more meaningful engagement tactics in their posts. 

I personally, think that removing likes from the public view will add some value. A lot of the times when I see that a friend or influencer has liked something I was planning on scrolling past I will like it just to be in good company. Removing likes would take away that “peer pressure”, making likes more organic. As long as content creators can have access to the likes then I think it is ok. It will capture a true depiction of whether or not the content is truly liked or not.

What do you all think, should Instagram be hiding likes? And, what will this mean for new- and micro-influencers?

6 thoughts on “On Instagram Straight Flexing?

  1. I have similar thoughts with @FUCCI. Even through changes are in progress, but the company hiding likes doesn’t mean that users can’t see them after a few clicks. I imagine the new format is going to be similar to a video post, where users will be able to see the views but they will also be able to see the likes after clicking on the post. I am not too concerned about influencers being affected by this new initiative since influencers on Instagram, just like creators on YouTube, are one of the major reasons why users love the platform. All these social media platforms need influencers/creators to be active on the platform to maintain the number of active users. Any company can make an app like Instagram but not all of them can build a healthy and loyal community.

  2. I had no idea that influencers were so concerned about this change. I can certainly see how it would dramatically change their business model. I’m sure it makes it difficult for influencers who are also trying to gain ground also, if they aren’t able to make comparisons or prioritize where they should focus their engagement. I wonder if Instagram will eventually add a metric where you can compare your brand/profile to several others similar to what Facebook has. In a way, that might actually provide for more accurate comparisons to be made, because it could incorporate other metrics like engagement, or rates of followers, likes, or engagements.

  3. The removal of Instagram likes will most definitely impact the way influencers and marketers use the platform, but ultimately, I think the pros out way the cons. Like you mentioned, Symone, (and Kim Kardashian) mental health is greatly impacted by likes on Instagram. By removing them, I think it will greatly improve how people perceive themselves on the platform, specifically with body image and in younger generations. I am extremely curious how marketers and Instagram influencers will adjust the way they do use Instagram, but I think the change will lend itself to improved content. Often times when things like this change so drastically, it forces creatives like Influencers and Marketers to take a different approach, which often results in even better engagement and results.

  4. Symone, I completely agree with you! Removing likes will be beneficial to the public. I believe in many cases, people decide whether they should ‘like’ or not ‘like’ a post due to other people seeing that they did or didn’t. By removing the visible like count, likes will be more authentic and not just for show. I agree that likes are probably the most meaningless form of engagement, because a lot of the time liking something doesn’t prove that someone will buy in to what is being promoted. Other more meaningful forms of engagement such as commenting or clicking through a link have much more value to a company than a like.

    Your post did make me wonder though, what would it be like if Instagram and other platforms removed follower count from visibility? People could still ‘follow’ who they want, it just wouldn’t show up in their profile. I feel a lot of people are concerned about their ‘follower ratio’ and ‘following back’ when someone follows them. This might help mental health just as much as removing the like count visibility.

  5. I’ve been trying to ignore likes for a while, because I think they are relatively meaningless for a business (most of what I do on Instagram is for business). What really counts in terms of engagement are comments and reposts. Liking something just doesn’t take much effort.

    However, I haven’t been successful in ignoring likes: I still look at the count and compare the success rate of my posts based on likes – especiallywhen I don’t have time to read the comments and respond properly. I think Instagram might be slightly better when the likes are gone: it will add incentive to comment if you are really moved to respond. However, I also think we’ll see more “lazy” comments: break out the heart and hands-clapping emojis everyone! Scrolling through them is going to be a drag.

  6. Hopefully, this will start getting both influencers and regular users to start paying more attention to comments, reposts and direct messages (for example, if fans are reaching out to creators directly with questions or feedback). These types of engagement are much more meaningful and useful for brands, as we saw with our conversation analysis. From a mental health perspective, focusing on the positive comments and response seems much healthier than worrying about the quantity of likes and who those likes are coming from.

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