When Instagram first announced they were hiding likes across the platform, I thought the Internet had finally taken a step in the right direction... Until I thought about my monthly report analytics.
What Will Instagram's Hidden Likes Affect?
Everyone has been questioning how this recent change to Instagram will affect influencers and their economy - how do you measure success without likes?
To be short, this change should do very little in the way of how influencers operate on Instagram.
As long as an influencer's audience engages and interacts with their content as they normally would, the Instagram algorithm will still churn out their garbage content on your search feed. I make it sound bad but this is a good thing - Instagram is still rewarding content for being engaging and unique.
But how will people know if an influencer actually has engaging content?!
Popular influencers use 'Instagram Business' accounts, allowing them to report on their engagement as well as how many people they are reaching, how many followers they gain each month, etc. In short, this change should do very little in the way of how influencers operate on Instagram. Socialblade is also a great, free tool for stalking popular social media channels to track their engagement.
This information has always been available to influencers and the brands who support them, in fact it would be necessary to report your engagement to a brand if they were sponsoring you. The only thing that has changed is the number of likes below their posts.
What Do Instagram Likes Really Represent?
That's the question we should be actually be asking.
Once these changes had occurred and I was back in the Instagram world, it felt weirdly lonely. I couldn't see who was interacting with the posts on my feed, which somehow began to feel like some sort of personal content overflow combined with advertising.
I started to question why I was even following some of these pages at all. Was I 'liking' posts in the past because I enjoyed the content or was it because I saw a popular post and I ‘liked’ it because I subconsciously wanted to fit in and be part of the bigger picture...OR was I 'liking' a photo to make the number of 'likes' even?
*Welcome to my brain at 1am with no sleep*
Without going too Illuminati on y'all, this small change is the start of a psychological shift among Instagram users. This change could either deter people from engaging with content (which is my bet) or it could somehow encourage people to feel less pressured and engage with content more without judgement.
What Does This Mean For Businesses on Instagram?
Create content that is engaging and that your target audience wants to see. If you’re posting content to specifically get engagement, make it unique, different, interesting. Instagram is still a great place to post noticeboard-style announcements to keep your followers up to date, but don't expect a flood of 'likes' (especially during this trial).
Yes, this is technically a trial according to Instagram. This means they could unhide likes in a few months, making this entire blog irrelevant and my hours of hard work null and void.
Welcome to the Internet.