11 Dec Why Instagram Removing Likes is a Good Thing

Instagram removing likes has made a big stir in the online marketing community.

If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it is a visual-centric platform on which people can choose to post (almost) anything but are most likely to post a photo of themselves – a “selfie”. My favorite and most productive social platform, Instagram has gotten a bad rap for causing hurt feelings due to an unintended competition for likes and followers. Some people even go so far as to buy likes and followers, presenting a problem of inauthenticity on various levels.

This article was originally posted here.

Lack of authenticity is something Instagram has been increasingly charged with since its inception in 2012. With 20-something year olds posing with rented Lamborghini’s, Instagram has shone a stage light on the power of “perception”. If you look like you’ve got it on the ‘gram, you have a high chance of selling people on that story even if in real life you’re driving a 1998 Toyota with a rusted out bottom.

Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, were made to notice the mental issues its “instafamous” culture exasperated by studies like the one published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health. The #StatusOfMind survey included input from 1,479 young people (ages 14 to 24) from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Out of five social networks included in the survey, Instagram was found to have the worst impact on mental health.

In 2019, Instagram decided to tackle this by hiding the number of likes a post gets from the public. While it doesn’t resolve the issue of “despair and compare”, it does help mitigate the the depression – yes, depression – that comes from not getting enough likes as someone else. The test was initially started in 6 countries and has now hit the U.S. market mid-November 2019.

“We want everyone’s experience on Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring,” a Facebook spokesperson stated, “We’re increasingly making decisions that prioritize the well-being of our community over our business — for example, reducing pressure on Instagram by hiding likes. We will continue to work alongside experts to develop new features in this space, like time management tools, whilst continuing our efforts to lead the industry in the fight against online bullying.”

But is it only self-esteem that Instagram is concerned with?

Instagram very well may care about its users’ mental health, but their new features have other motives. Mainly, it has long been fighting robots. Not Roomba… online robots which manufacture followers, likes and comments. Companies caught on to the emotional effect Instagram attention has and started selling fake likes, followers and even comments. Other companies took the honest route and began offering authentic interactions for the purpose of growing one’s following and engagement. However, both routes took away from what any platform treasures most – quality content. Instagram removing likes will significantly lower the demand for likes.

Self-esteem improvements aside, how will Instagram removing likes be beneficial?

1) It will ultimately create a more authentic user experience. Some users go as far as to delete posts that don’t get a lot of likes. When that pressure is reduced, your content has an opportunity to more accurately represent you. While users will be able to see the amount of likes their posts receive privately, most will no longer feel compelled to use likes as the primary measurement.

2) If content is King, engagement is Queen. While most influencers measure engagement as # of likes / # of followers, are likes really the best measurement of engagement? Our team at SocialCow is concentrating on the following measurements of engagement on Instagram as they indicate higher interest and better chance of brand recall (remembering the brand by a piece of content you saw) than likes alone:

  • Comments – it takes longer to comment than double-tap (like) and it’s an invitation to start a conversation
  • Shares (into stories) – how many people shared your post into their stories
  • Saves – how many people saved your post for future reference
  • Calls, Emails & DMs – the ultimate engagement as it borders lead generation

We’re excited to see how Instagram removing likes will transform Instagram and start to solve its glaring problem with inauthenticity. At the same time, I personally believe that Instagram has allowed people to face their inner demons by becoming the platform of “perception”. It is my hope that people can evolve from this.