19 Dec, 2019

Instagram Begin Removing Likes

PANIC! INSTAGRAM IS TAKING AWAY LIKES! This is what many people thought when Instagram announced they would be extending the test of removing public-facing likes on user’s feeds
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri recently announced the fact that Instagram would begin to trial removing likes in small user tests worldwide and across the US. 

Instagram has claimed that removal of public-facing likes will help the platform become a place where users can focus on expressing themselves through photos and videos, without the pressure of likes. Many users have responded positively to the news, especially those who worry about the impact on mental health, but this hasn’t stopped many being frustrated and angry at the decision as well. In fact, some users who are frustrated at the trial, are precisely the users which Instagram is aiming to help, as they are the ones who typically put pressure on themselves to gain as many likes as possible.

The loss of likes raises different questions, which affect different users in different ways so in this blog post I will be running through some of the most pressing concerns.

First up, some users are worried that without ‘likes’ will there be a drop in engagement and question how they will grow their profiles without them? This raises an interesting point in itself: how much does the number of likes displayed below the photo, feed into the decision to like said photo? Are users now more likely to keep scrolling without interacting? If this is the case it will be interesting to see how content creators and businesses who use Instagram to sell their services and products, will adapt to the new format. 

Creators and agencies have different but similar worries on this topic. Creators worry that not having an actual figure of post likes that they can present to an agency to warrant pay will limit their earning potential, and on the other side of the table, agencies are wondering how they will track performance of posts to report back to their clients.

Now a key point to raise is that users will still be able to see who has liked a post privately, but there will not be a number of total likes displayed, just a list of those who have liked the photo or video instead, Will this cause more barriers to work through between agencies and content creators, especially when there will not be a clear benchmark of how posts perform?

Instagram has said the change would allow the focus to be on the content and make it less of a competition. Another question to raise is, are public-facing likes the real problem here? The question should be asked because with the recent update a user will still be able to click through on a post and see who has liked it. So, if a user has a smaller follower count it won't take much effort to count how many likes a single post has received anyway, giving those who are motivated to do so, still able to continue making posting content a competition. 

Also, in many users’ eyes, the comment function is where a lot of pressure stems from, especially in the younger generation. Should they have focused on improving comments instead?  Will they test a similar removal of comments? I think Instagram know there is more to be done, so it will be interesting to see where the platform goes with these new updates as they continue pushing for a healthier Instagram.