HOW WILL THE REMOVAL OF LIKES AFFECT THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY?
So, a few months ago Instagram announced that they were removing likes in Canada and would slowly be rolling the change out in other countries. After that, the whole subject seemed to disappear and everyone seemed to forget about it.
On Wednesday, Instagram piped up again and announced that they are trialling the removal of likes in more countries. So far, they have hidden likes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Instagram’s plan is to slowly roll out the removal of likes until eventually, likes are hidden everywhere.
WHY ARE INSTAGRAM REMOVING LIKES?
Instagram claim that the plan to remove likes is an attempt to make people focus on the photos and videos you share, not obsess over how many likes you get. You will still be able to see how well your post performs, but the like count will be hidden to everyone other than you.
Whilst Instagram claim that they’re doing it for mental-health reasons, I don’t believe that is the sole reason they have decided to implement the change.
Instagram is a business and ultimately, the removal of likes is a financial decision. Instagram have been restricting peoples reach for a while now; I’m sure you’ve noticed that engagement has significantly lowered across the platform (it’s certainly the #1 thing I’m seeing influencers complain about at the moment). So, it’s no surprise that such a major change to the platform is coming at a time like this.
I’m not going to pretend like I know exactly why Instagram are doing it; it could be for a number of different reasons. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why they’re doing it, what matters is how it’s going to affect the platform.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY?
I asked everyone over on my Instagram stories whether they think it’s a step in the right direction or two steps backwards for Instagram. There were a lot of mixed opinions, but a lot of people expressed their concerns about how it will impact on the authenticity of influencers and whether influencer marketing will continue.
Are people going to get away with buying followers now that Instagram are removing likes? Well, people are doing this already and whilst removing likes may prompt more people to do this, influencers who want to continue to work with brands in gifted or paid collaborations won’t be able to do this without risking their authenticity.
Remember that your likes and analytics will still be visible to you. When discussing collaborations, it’s likely that brands will ask for screenshots of the influencers post insights before agreeing to work with them. They will also ask for screenshots of the results once the collaboration has taken place.
Whilst you can fake your following and you can fake your likes, you can’t fake your reach and analytics. This has always been the case, which is why brands have been asking for screenshots long before the introduction of this change.
So, yes. People may start buying followers, but anyone with the hopes of becoming, or remaining, an influencer won’t be able to do so without jeopardising their career.
As I mentioned previously, influencer marketing will continue. Remember that you are still able to see how your post performed and brands will be able to as well with screenshots.
The good thing about hiding likes is that when searching for influencers, more brands will start focusing on the quality of the content they’re producing rather than the amount of likes they receive. I think this will give many more influencers the chance to start working with brands and start being recognised for their content within the industry.
Whilst the removal of likes will be a BIG change for influencer marketing, I do think that it has the potential to positively impact the industry.
HOW WILL IT AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH?
It’s no secret that Instagram can severely impact the mental health of many young people, both inside and outside of the influencer industry.
Instagram used to be a great platform to share photos and videos, but the pressure of not getting ‘enough’ likes has taken over and stolen the fun out of Instagram for many.
I’ve spoken to many influencers who have said that sometimes it feels like Instagram is becoming more and more of a chore for them. When using Instagram as a business, the pressure of getting an ‘acceptable’ amount of likes can take over and impact peoples self-worth and create high levels of anxiety.
Similarly, I know many young people compare their worth to how many likes they get on Instagram and compare themselves to their peers.
Ultimately, likes can have a great impact on someone’s self-esteem, or it can have an extremely negative one and I think that removing likes is the only way to tackle this.