Last Friday, the streets were buzzing with news that Instagram was testing a feature that would remove likes from posts. THE HORROR! How are we to know if everyone is lusting over our new sneakers, amazing vacation, cute bae, or bangin’ outfit?
The Top Five platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Youtube) all use some sort of ‘like’ system as a way to show engagement from followers. To imagine a world without am IMMEDIATE response to online content is tricky (and almost unheard of). What does this mean for actual blogger-influencers who report those stats to brands? How would we mesure our influence?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. A spokesperson from Instagram said that, they are “Exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram . . .” and it, “is something we’re always thinking about.” However, removing likes isn’t happening anytime soon. Instagram is still trying to get rid of FAKE likes and companies who sell non-organic engagement. So, like, put down you torches and pitchforks, calm down, and keep reading. Because, if the option is being discussed, that means changes ARE coming.
When did likes on Social Sites become a big deal?
Well, back in the day (2006) when Myspace was king, a model named Tila Tequila was touted as having the MOST MySpace friends on the site. People raced to get all the ‘friends they could get’ whether they knew someone or not. Users started following popular people – to become more popular! Then, Facebook (MySpace’s smart yet privileged cousin) became public, opening their platform to businesses and ‘regular’ people instead of just college students.
Before all of this, Social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ but after 2006 companies started realizing that young people were influenced by online personalities and marketing as much as they were influenced by ‘celebrities’ and television commercials. In 2009, Ashton Kutcher was the first person to get 1 million followers on Twitter. It was cemented, social networking was king and everyone fell in line. A psychological and marketing shift occurred.
So, what’s really going on?
Here’s the deal, Instagram would not remove the LIKE button just the visible numerical likes seen under your content. Followers would still be able to LIKE your content, but only YOU would see how many times. Much like the feature on Instastory, only the user can see how many times a follower viewed their content. The removal of visible likes would be much like the same function.
However, Instagram never mentioned taking away the comment feature. In theory, comments should be a better way to measure engagement. But as we know, some booster companies would pop up giving users ways to forge fake comments – much like the fake-like systems that still exist today.
The discussion of removing visible likes indicates the platform moving toward a pay-for-play platform. Yeah, always follow the money!
ONE BILLION people use Instagram, and 25 million users have business profiles. Instgram beats the Top 5 social platforms when converting LIKES to purchases. Businesses use blogger-influencers to sell their products, more often than creating organic social media campaigns. In my opinion, Instagram wants more of that money. Taking away visible likes forces users to become business profiles in order to have access to vanity statistics.
Addicted to Likes?
The psychological effect of getting likes has been fully researched; racking up likes gives users an endorphin rush much like taking cocaine! This mostly effects our youngest users, ages 14-24, but even old heads (my momma) will remark on a photo they posted getting a bunch of likes (or hearts, or thumbs up, or whatever). The virtual peer endorsement gets the best of us. Even the person who says, ‘I don’t LIKE social media!’ is swayed to look at a photo/meme or read an article that is shown to get a lot of traffic
Any professional blogger-Influencer knows that having the right statistics helps solidify you as an actual content creator – as well as pads your pockets. When we dumb-down ‘influencers’ to just bikini models, dumb comedians, or regular people searching for ‘clout’, we downplay a burgeoning industry of creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs who work hard to provide us with amazing products, services, information, and art.
Since I started my blog, I’ve been engulfed in stats. Google and WordPress deliver my states every time I log into to create new content. It’s the way I gauge if my readers are actually READING my content. Having a healthy social media presence has helped me gain income and inform people of style, confidence and digital strategy. I know that every website click matters, just social media like every like matters. It gets my content in front of the right eyes. I doubt we will move away from this life.
Likes don’t matter?
To naively say that “likes don’t matter” is to downplay the hard work of millions of people turned business owners who create content for YOU to enjoy. True, I don’t want my future children posting JUST FOR online validation, however there’s no way we exist in this world without meaningful validation from our peers.
Instagram (and the other platforms) can take away the visible like features, but humans will always find a way to verify validation from the people they respect.
Tell me what you think in the comment section? Should the big 5 take away LIKE features?
- ‘Instagram to Crack Down on Fake Likes and Followers’ – NBC News
- ‘Instagram Has Considered Hiding the Like Count on People’s Photos‘ – The Verge
- ‘Would It Be So Bad If Instagram Hid the Number of Likes on a Post?’ – Forbes
- 22+ Instagram Stats That Marketers Can’t Ignore This Year – Hootsuite