Over the last couple of months Instagram has trialled removing the visibility of ‘likes’ from posts, a move that has generated a split response. In an attempt to improve the user experience as mental health epidemics continue to rocket, we have a quick look at the positives and negatives of this latest step from the social media giant…

DEATH OF A USEFUL METRIC

Love them or hate them, the measurement of likes has been a central measurement in content performance for brands that are utilising the lifestyle based platform. So much so that it’s common (and not recommended!) to see accounts buying fake likes in order to influence perception amongst their target markets. The more likes, supposedly the more buy-in. If a post is failing to attract a suitable amount of the holy grail double tap, then it’s usually a swift delete and back to the drawing board.

On the other hand, users are turning more and more towards self gratification based on popularity through likes, and that’s certainly a problem that needs addressing with mental health being heavily impacted.

WILL FOLLOWER COUNTS BECOME A BIGGER DEAL?

Whilst likes could be gone forever, will brands simply direct attention towards building follower numbers to showcase their clout? Will users look at follower count to decide on whether to trust and advocate for a brand? Will we see an increase in buying fake followers instead of likes?

IMPACT ON ALGORITHMS

Algorithms have always had an enormous influence on whether organic content is seen, and with the removal of likes on posts how much of an effect will that have on peoples habits? If likes aren’t visible, will users be drawn away from even bothering? Does that mean that even if they are entertained by a piece of content, that the algorithms will have a negative kickback for brands and also users who will stop seeing as much of that content they enjoy?

TAKE THE PLATFORM BACK TO IT’S ORIGINAL PURPOSE

Originally, Instagram was a breath of fresh air, a platform that was based on visuals alone without any politics or trolls – a problem that has drawn many away from Facebook, for example.

Over the last couple of years it seems that Insta has lost some of it’s authenticity and instead become plastered with fake lifestyles and constant pursuit of that ‘influencer’ status.

Perhaps with the removal of likes things will be more like they used to be?

THE GROWTH OF CONVERSATION

A like is often enough. A little nod and call for a return of the favour. However, maybe now we will start to see more conversation. One-on-one or even group discussion as opposed to endless scrolling with a tap of the thumb.

Brands may even be able to improve measurability through the insight that conversation offers. What are people actually thinking? How are they reacting to the content we are producing and what conversations have been started?

KILLING THE LAZY STRATEGY

That leads into the importance of strategy. This big change could force brands with often lazy or non existent strategies to sit back and rethink their approach. Content may just have to be a little more original, entertaining, authentic and ‘real’. All of a sudden we may start to see revitalised timelines filled with variety and purpose, both from a brand perspective and the general user-base.

VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO

It’s well documented that the goal of Facebook and Instagram is to push users to Stories, with short form video seen as the future as opposed to static images and the news feed. Hiding the power of likes and increasing the consumption rate of video will in turn drive creators away from static images, building a potentially more entertaining (and time consuming!?) platform.

Who knows what affect this change will have? Either way, we can certainly help brands to prepare.

Instagram is going to remain just one vital part of any social strategy.  The team at Crowd have always worked hard to stay ahead of these shifts and that remains our USP.

If you want to discuss how we can add value to your social strategy, we’ll buy the coffee. Get in touch