Bid farewell to Instagram “likes” since the app has recently started testing out the removal of the likes count on posts. With this like removal test already in motion in seven countries, including Canada, Instagram claims to have taken this move in order to create a “less pressurised environment” for its users. Let’s take a look at whether this change might be for reasons not disclosed to the public.
A big flaw to this entire plan is that even though the likes count will no longer be available to followers, users can still view the likes on their own posts. Since public likes have already existed for a long time, it’s fair to assume that existing users still have an idea of what an “acceptable” amount of likes on posts is to them, and so the comparison of likes factor will not disappear for old users.
The issue is that even though social media in general has been reported to have a negative impact on mental health, no studies show a direct correlation between Instagram likes and mental health, so Instagram can’t justify that the like removal alone will have a big positive impact on users’ mental health. There are various other steps that Instagram could have taken to help create less social pressure on the platform but it chose this step – why? The reason most probably lies in the app wanting to change marketing metrics and rake in more ad revenue.
Let’s first look at influencer marketing. Instagram influencers have been all the rage in advertising for a while now, but with the like count being removed, things might change. Users will no longer be more attracted to a post solely based on a larger number of likes, which means it will become increasingly difficult for influencers to attain the same amount of reach. For this reason, brands will invest more money on Instagram paid ads in order to get their posts maximum reach. This could be both good and bad for budding influencers and small businesses. Without the likes, marketers will focus more on aspects such as follower counts and engagement metrics. New influencers will have a difficult time getting brand deals. However, since likes will probably no longer dictate which posts show up more on the Explore page, small businesses might have a better shot at getting more exposure than they previously had.
Another big reason for the “likes” removal is most probably Instagram trying to promote Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Instagram Shopping. The app will make more revenue on “swipe-ups,” sales through Instagram, and click-throughs. Even though Instagram claims this change will generate more “authentic” content, in the end it might be the opposite. There will be a decrease in fake followers and likes through bots, but there is not much of a benefit for regular users.
Instagram has not decided to make this change permanent yet. However, it’s safe to say that the platform definitely cares more about your money than your mental health and we’re not going back to the age of posting filtered pictures of our dinner anytime soon.
Mayabee Arannya spends her days oversharing on Facebook. Make her stop at fb.com/mayabee.arannya