Here’s Why Instagram Considers Changing Its “Likes” Feature…

Instagram Update July 2019 | Instagram Removes "Likes" Feature | Kanuka Digital

Here’s Why Instagram Considers Changing Its “Likes” Feature…

The treasured social channel that is Instagram, has had second thoughts to which features are most beneficial to its millions of users. They’ve decided to trial removing “like” and “comment” figures, which can be seen on each post, for users in selected countries across the world.

In short, the new update will mean that users can see the overall list of who has liked your photo, just not the overall numbers. But that’s not the only change…

We’ll quickly update you on the what, when, where and why Instagram is considering the alterations and give our expert opinion on what it may mean for you as a business.

What is the update?

Prior to the update, users can see a running total of how many people have liked a certain post. This running total is an exact figure.

You can see from the below examples from our client, Clink Hostels and top marketer, Seth Goden that the number of likes and comments the post has received are very specific.

For example, there are 172 likes for the Clink Hostels’ post and 2,316 likes for Seth Goden’s post.

However, the new trial will mean that users will now see a user name “and others”, rather than the number of users who’ve liked the post. See below.

Instagram Update July 2019 | Instagram Removes "Likes" Feature | Kanuka Digital

Yet, for the account that’s posted the image, they’ll still be able to view the number of likes their own posts receive. It’ll simply stop their followers from knowing if they got 10 likes or 2,000,000+ likes.

When: July 17-18th 2019

The update was announced today by Instagram, with trusted sources from The BBC, Evening Standard, ITV News and more, spreading the word.

Instagram Update July 2019 | Instagram Removes "Likes" Feature | Kanuka Digital

Where: Australia, Japan, Ireland…

Instagram told the BBC that the changes will roll out across countries Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil to start with.

Depending on the success of the new changes, this will roll out across more countries worldwide assuming goals and objectives are met and users are embracing the change.

Why?

There’s plenty of reasons speculated around Instagram’s decision to remove the “like” count for users viewing the post. The main fuel to the fire was in-line with their recent push for anti-bullying on the channel: to stop accounts generating a low level of likes, having it affect their mental wellbeing.

Studies suggest this kind of instant feedback on content can boost people’s self-esteem but bring others down if they do not get as many likes.

The BBC

Reason for change:

  • To minimise the stress of posting online with users competing over the number of likes their posts receive.
  • To stop users from worrying as much about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.
  • To try and remove the feelings of inadequacy in young people. This is due to the number of likes and comments being a factor in deeming how valued or “liked” a person is in society.
  • To reduce the pressure of all users but particularly influencers to try and stop any mental pressures/suicides that have previously occurred.

“The goal is to ensure that users feel less judged and to see “whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story”.”

Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy

What it means for you…

There’s lots of speculation around what could happen for people wanting monetary value, lead generation or brand awareness from the change but as of yet, they’re simply speculations.

As a business

For businesses, you shouldn’t see too much change within your social activity. If people like the content you post before, they should still like it post-change. There’s no doubt you might lose a few likes from accounts doing so because their friend did, or because 200+ other users did, so why not?

Yet, the main user type who is predicted to see a big hit to their account is the “Instagram Influencer”.

As an influencer

The general consensus is that “likes” have become a vanity metric – which we all probably knew already. Despite this, they did help to show us that they were generating high levels of engagement and now with the figures disappearing, comments alone aren’t an adequate way to measure the true value to the business.

There’s thought that influencers will have to work a lot harder to prove that they’re bringing value to the brands they partner with which inevitably, could bring more pressure and stress for results.

Our thoughts

To conclude, here is a list of our thoughts on the matter.

  • The change isn’t anything to worry about. It’s all super new and hasn’t been implemented just yet so over the next few weeks it’ll become more clear what impacts it’ll have on businesses, influencers and individuals.
  • The idea to improve mental wellbeing for users is a great step in the right direction and something that needed to happen due to the growing rates of mental illnesses within youngsters, particularly around social media.
  • It will give users more control and stop them from being sub-consciously peer pressured into liking a post just because hundreds or thousands of other users have.
  • We should see a shift in users engaging with only brands they actually like and gain value from following. Giving unique, smaller accounts a better fighting chance.
  • Influencers may see brand collaborations drop and adding them to your content strategy may need re-evaluating further down the line.

For now, there’s no real concern or actions to be taken. Sit back and relax!

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Katie Rose
katie@kanukadigital.com