Among all the ills that Facebook has inflicted on the world (gender reveal party photo albums; echo chambers; fake news), it’s interesting that they’ve decided to take a brave attitude over likes on Instagram.
Yeah, you heard that right, Instagram is now removing likes.
In November 2019, the company announced the expansion of its global test in which “you’ll no longer see the total number of views and likes on videos and photos unless they’re your own.”
Many people aren’t happy about the decision, and not everyone understands why Instagram took that decision.
Some time ago, studies revealed that 75% of marketers would turn to Instagram for brand advertisement in 2020.
But change is happening. While social media marketing goes through updates and changes, Instagram like removal is a seismic shock for marketers.
As the company reveals its plans on the removal of likes from Instagram, influencer marketing is left pondering about the impact this will have for Instagram. Many creators, brands, and agencies are in a state of panic. But there’s so much to say about the changes Instagram is making.
In many ways, the removal of likes from Instagram could benefit the creator’s agenda and also pave the way for genuine creators to stand out.
As with all digital industries, the influencer marketing ecosystem is always in a state of flux, and it’s our duty, as brands, creators, and consumers alike to navigate these variations in the most genuine way possible.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the popular questions that people ask, like:
- Why is Instagram removing likes?
- Is Instagram removing likes in 2020 and beyond?
- Will removing likes on Instagram kill influencer marketing?
- And many more…
Let’s dig in.
WHAT UPDATES IS INSTAGRAM MAKING?
Last summer, Instagram disclosed that they were trailing the Instagram feeds without public likes in countries like New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, and Australia.
In recent months, they’ve asserted that these tests will be carried out on a global scale, and they began the process of rolling the expansion out.
The trails came after Instagram faced criticism over the negativity of Instagram on mental health.
Instead of focusing on vanity measures, Instagram wants people to feel relaxed on their platform. They believe that the removal of likes from Instagram will help people to create genuine content and avoid being inspired by likes.
WHY IS INSTAGRAM REMOVING LIKES?
The removal of likes from Instagram all boils down to the negative press that social media has attracted for its adverse impacts on mental health.
Studies have proven that Instagram is the worst platform for mental health, and the company has been forced to look for ways to improve mental wellbeing among users.
Even though social media brings people together, they also provide the channel for racism, cyber-bullying, and hate speech mostly among teens. Instagram is a popular social media platform, especially among the younger generation. It’s even on record that 65% of Gen Z use it every day.
A lot of young people are always looking for ways to get enough likes.
In the words of Adam Mosseri (Instagram’s chief executive), the company is trying to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition and give people the chance to connect to things that encourage them and people they love.
The idea of “no likes on Instagram” doesn’t come as a massive surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to social media marketing news. In late 2018, reports had it that Instagram was planning to combat the problem of fake followers and likes.
In recent news, it was announced that Instagram has been testing out hiding likes in countries like Australia, Ireland, and Japan. Examples of some Instagram posts with no likes are: thanks to the mysterious, easy to spot, and others.
WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK ABOUT LIKES DISAPPEARING ON INSTA?
In November 2019, Adam Mosseri, in a tweet, informed people about Instagram’s plan to test the hiding of likes for U.S users. To say the least, this announcement has been controversial.
The rumors had been circulating for a while, and the confirmation from Mosseri sets the industry alight. It also triggered reactions from many influencers and celebrities.
For instance, Nicki Minaj confirmed that she’d quit Instagram altogether. Besides, here’s Kim Kardashian-West’s belief: as far as mental health, I think it’d be beneficial if we had no more likes on Insta.
Even though it’s hard to dislike Instagram’s desire to protect mental health, many detractors have their reservations about Instagram’s move.
Peter DeLuce has more than 10,000 Instagram followers, and he uses the platform to inform people about his space-themed scenery.
Most of his sales can be attributed to social media marketing. So, he believes that the removal of likes from Instagram is a bad omen for emerging artists.
Some other critics view Instagram’s decision as a cunning plan. While this change may be presented as a caring, considerate move, there is some assumption that Instagram is looking for ways to invest more in Stories and also give up on the newsfeed features.
Here’s what Peter Malachi (senior VP of communications of Hermes) has to say: the rise in supervisory pressure for transparency as regards sponsored influencer content and paid posts has also lead to diminished growth. Hence, I am wondering if the removal of likes from Instagram is to protect investment due to a drop in engagement.
Whatever be the case, a lot of marketers will be happy to hear that Instagram hasn’t completely removed the like feature, yet.
WHAT WILL “NO LIKES ON INSTAGRAM” MEAN FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
A lot of people are interested in knowing how Instagram’s decision to remove like will affect the influencer marketing industry.
In the short history of influencer marketing, a creator’s Influencer is measured by the number of likes generated on their post. Now that likes are gone, many people want to know how this influence will now be measured.
First, it’s essential to know that likes won’t just disappear with this update. It’ll only be visible to the creator, the user, and the APIs linked to their accounts. So, the information can still be accessed by all the influencer marketing platforms connected to the Instagram API.
Though, even before Instagram’s announcement, Influencers have been telling agencies and brands to shift their attention from the cheapest vanity metrics, such as comments and likes, and focus on more valuable metrics such as clicks, shares, and saves.
The latter metrics indicate actual follower interest.
When viewed from this perspective, Instagram’s update can be seen as positive because it’ll inspire a closer analysis of “influence.”
It’s also predicted that more value will be placed on established creator relationships, industry experience, the ability to tap into the Instagram data, and proven historical data.
HOW CAN YOU SEE WHAT SOMEONE HAS LIKED ON INSTAGRAM?
The concept of Instagram removing likes doesn’t stop you from knowing how many likes your Instagram post-receive.
It’s only your followers that can’t see the number of likes on your posts. According to Jane Manchun Wong, the owner of a post can still see the like count on their post.
Instagram only want your followers to concentrate on what you post and not the number of likes your post receives. During Instagram’s test, the total number of likes on a post can only be seen by the person who shared the post.
This feature still allows for engagement and feedback metrics, which brands can use to guide their Instagram marketing strategy. But then, it lacks the pulling powers that some marketers have depended on thus far.
A signal is passed to the brain when users see a post that already accrued thousands of likes. The same thing happens when they see a post that doesn’t have any likes.
So, will Instagram like removal affect user behavior?
THE IMPACTS OF INSTAGRAM REMOVING LIKES ON USER BEHAVIOR
The word “authenticity” is one of the essential elements that must be in any influencer marketing article. Also, Instagram testing no likes will only be beneficial for authenticity.
As marketers and advertisers shift their focus away from vanity measures, their interest will be focused on more genuine forms of engagements – forms that are often harder to be manipulated or faked.
Though this is not likely to affect creators who always post genuine and authentic content, in essence, creators will still post and reach out to brands in the same way. Also, their content will even be examined, and agencies/brands can still have a look at how a creator is performing.
If there’s going to be any change, then it’d be that the shift from vanity will lead brands to focus on other forms of sales, community, and engagement. That’d be a good thing for creators who have built genuine communities.
In opposition, creators who haven’t built communities, but have gotten fake engagements and likes will find it hard to prosper.
Real Instagram creators have never seen “likes” as commodities. So, they won’t be affected by Instagram like removal.
The change will more likely affect creators who neglect consumer behaviors and those relying on vanity measures.
Besides, the removal of likes from Instagram will encourage users and creators to be more experimental and creative with their posts. This will take influencer marketing back to its foundation: authentic content.
Before now, creators use to share content just to get more likes (even if the content isn’t creative or genuine). Instagram removing likes will inspire people to post on Instagram without the phobia of “like” competition.
IS INSTAGRAM REMOVING LIKES IN 2020 AND BEYOND?
Most likely, YES.
Sometimes in 2019, rumors were flying around about Instagram testing no likes in the U.S.
Indeed, in November 2019, a report from TechCrunch shows that the testing has gone global.
In reality, things are moving pretty fast.
If the global test goes well, then this change will be rolled out to all users. This is most likely to happen in 2020.
BENEFITS OF REMOVING LIKES ON INSTAGRAM
We can assume that Instagram isn’t scared to affect its profit margin. But then the impact of its decision on influencers shouldn’t be treated lightly because influencers are essential to the lead-generation policies of many brands.
40% of U.S. consumers use ad blockers, and 70% of teenagers trust influencers more than traditional celebs.
Meaning, people aren’t blocking content and videos from their preferred social media celebs. They’re even eating up every word from the celebrities.
The power of advertising is now shifting to real influencers and people. With this in mind, you might want to ask if there’s anything to be gained from Instagram like removal?
Here are some advantages of Instagram removing likes?
ADVANTAGES OF REMOVING LIKES ON INSTAGRAM
1. BETTER BRAND INTEGRITY & CONTENT QUALITY
One of the metrics that Instagram marketers use to gauge performance is the total number of likes on a post. However, now that there are no more likes on Insta, creators will have no choice than to deliver genuine content.
A great way to make your brand and product easy to learn about is to make them discoverable on Instagram.
Such contents are relevant, and they appear in Instagram’s explore page. Thus, giving your brand more exposure than is typically possible.
Likewise, the best way to get yourself in the Explore page is by including relevant hashtags.
The removal of likes from Instagram is a change that’ll expose anyone trying to buy likes. It’ll also lead to better content and better brand identity.
2. PEOPLE WILL STOP WORRYING ABOUT VANITY MEASURES
For a lot of brands and individuals, the total number of likes on their Instagram post is one thing to brag about.
This social market is more of an indication and popularity vote to get attraction, even when your mission, efforts, brand messaging, and products don’t deserve the tributes.
According to Agency Analytics, here are some recommended and important Instagram metrics that brands should be tracking:
- Engagement Rate
- Follower growth rate, reach
- Instagram stories
- link clicks
- comments per post
- website traffic
DISADVANTAGES OF REMOVING LIKES ON INSTAGRAM
1. INFLUENCER WILL STRUGGLE TO GET NOTICED
Before now, likes have been the gauge of quality content on Instagram, especially for emerging photographers and artists. Likes make them more visible to people, and it gives them the recognition needed for growth.
Without these likes, one might bet to agree that it’s difficult to get known. For micro-influencers, this might reduce opportunities, while brands might find it hard to access an influencer’s worth.
2. INFLUENCERS AND BRANDS MIGHT LEAVE INSTAGRAM
A great post that generates many likes stirs up a feel-good feeling that can suddenly become addictive.
Concerning the removal of likes from Instagram, many will wait to see the outcome of Instagram’s decision. Others might even leave Instagram to get themselves noticed on other social media platforms like Pinterest and Snapchat.
Pinterest is a channel that drives more traffic than most social media platforms, and 51% of Gen Z prefer Snapchat. Furthermore, 90% of consumers use Pinterest to make purchasing decisions.
The growth of visual commerce will make these two platforms more vital to brands and alluring to influencers.
Besides, there are several other channels for marketers and brands to use, including the most well-known, like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
There are also tons of other ad networks to consider.
Instagram removing likes is one update that’ll change the face of influencer campaigns and social media marketing.
Even though it’s a controversial move, it’s ultimately a positive step forward for influencers, users and brands because there’ll be less social pressure to compete and users will be forced to re-examine how they use Instagram henceforth.
Instagram removing likes might also be the driver behind a new wave of greater brand integrity and higher-quality content.
We do hope that you find this article useful.
What are your thoughts on the subject of Instagram removing likes? Do you think it’ll have a positive or negative impact on users, brands, and influencers? We’ll love to hear from you.