In the world of social media, it doesn’t take a lot to cause a fuss. However, a major change has indeed happened on Instagram, and it’s not an exaggeration when we say that Instagram removing ‘likes’ from posts is probably one of the biggest things to happen on social in years. At the very least, it could have quite serious implications for Influencers, who rely on this particular metric to ensure they stay in work. On a more positive note, it could actually improve the Instagram experience for everyone else. Intriguing and pretty much out of the blue, this new direction has caused a major stir.
It’s still a test though, before we all start packing our bags and running for safety. Canada was the first to become a test subject for the new feature. Back in May, Facebook (which owns Instagram) began testing it in Canada, and removing all public Like counts on Instagram posts that were photo and video posts. It was a pretty big deal.
Instagram has since expanded that test to a number of new countries, which can only mean that it seems deadly serious about the new way of doing things, and is looking to make the change very permanent.
The list of countries definitely affected by the test are:
Canada | Ireland | Australia | Brazil | Italy | Japan | New Zealand
The news broke at F8, the annual developer conference that Mark Zuckerberg holds. At the conference, Zuckerberg announced:
“As you scroll through your feed, there are no like counts. You can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself.”
Put simply, when you check out your feed, you will not be able to see how many Likes a post on someone else’s’ account has.
And just in case you’re wondering, you can see how many likes your posts have, but other people cannot.
It’s an interesting question. The main reason centres around the idea that Instagram should be a place to discover quality content. Zuckerberg is on a personal mission currently to make the world a better place, and part of that mission involves allowing audiences on Instagram to discover genuinely good posts.
He thinks that there is too much content out there that is generally thrust in front of our faces due to having more Likes than other content. The rationale is that if Likes don’t push content up feeds, then you will find content that is of genuine interest, rather than content that is manipulated for success.
Whether this will work is up in the air, a test is a test. But it’s a noble aim, and we feel that, while it may seem a little unfair (more on that in a moment), it makes perfect sense to make Instagram a place where you can ‘discover’ rather than join in on trends.
Why it may hurt
Influencers have literally started and maintained careers on Instagram.The platform has allowed some genuinely creative performers to add commercial sponsorship into their work effortlessly. Anyone who knows anything about Influencers knows they will be hit hard by the new Likes process.
Or maybe they won’t. There haven’t been any public Like counts or any real metrics on Instagram Stories since day one, and Influencers have been managing just fine with that. However, if a brand is in need of an Influencer, there could be a problem.
A brand looking for new Influencer opportunities will find it more challenging to pick people and groups of interests on Instagram if there is no public identification of how many Likes posts have. Influencers are defined by Likes and popularity. How could a brand find a new social talent worthy of note if there is no indication of such popularity?
Brands need to be aware of engagement. That is the key indicator of an Influencer’s worth. If that isn’t readily available the next time a brand is trawling the Web for Influencer opportunities, we can only see some ‘adjustments’ required for the way Influencers do things.
At the same time, this could make Influencers create better content.
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