Instagram announced today that they were now testing worldwide (in a sense) removing the like counts from Instagram photos.
Instagram stated that they were now testing in 7 countries this new removal to see how it affects the Instagram community.
Instagram went on to state that they “want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you post, not how many likes they get.”
How is the community reacting?
The community is mixed. Some people don’t really care much
Some people care a lot
Most people just want Instagram to give us chronological order back
How do some Instagram/Blogging experts feel?
I asked some owners of Instagram and blogger Facebook groups how they felt about this. These people eat sleep and breathe all things social media and blogging so I thought they would be perfect to ask.
Cate Cole of @catecolechic talked to me a little about her thoughts. She runs a business that helps online entrepreneurs and influencers with growing their Instagram engagement authentically. Naturally, she was a little worried. Cate also runs a Facebook group called ‘The Curated Chic’ that has over 6.8k members.
“I understand Instagram is trying to take the pressure off of gaining new likes, but as influencers and creators, we enjoy engaging with others. It’s more important now than ever to create genuine connections to grow, so I would suggest maximizing your digital presence with lots of comments and targeted niche follows.”
If you took a second to read any of the comments on the Tweet from Instagram, you will notice a lot of people were saying that this is going to be the death of influencers. Cate didn’t agree.
“I’m not a fan of this impending change. I like Instagram the way it is, and I think they are taking away a BIG part of their platform.
As for Influencing, I think brands will just have to request back end analytics to prove authentic engagement now. I don’t think it will necessarily be the “death of influencers” because it’s more so about the content they are putting out to sway and influence buying habits- not so much about the number of likes.”
I also spoke with one other Instagram Specialist, Mikaela of @rosegold.diary. She runs the Instagram Influencers Facebook group that has more than 32k members in it. She also is an Instagram coach and helps others grow their Instagram in an authentic way.
“My initial thoughts about Instagram’s decision to hide likes were that it was going to be a small inconvenience for me business-wise, adding an extra step to my collaboration process, but I know that I always feel resistance to Instagram’s updates and end up adapting to them faster than I anticipate, so I wasn’t too bothered.”
Mikaela went on to mention that she has had this update for a while in Canada and understands why Instagram is doing it, but doesn’t think it will solve the problem.
“I have had this update for a while already since I live in Canada and I do like the intention behind the update. I do think that not seeing the number of likes helped me “relax” in a way, although I still know that most people who follow me are still seeing them. I’m waiting to see how my feelings change once no one can see the likes. I, however, still think that the number of followers being displayed on our profiles will keep us worrying about the numbers just as much as before. I am feeling pretty neutral about it. I’m curious to see what happens in the future.”
When asked about whether or not she thinks the influencer community will fall from this she replied, “I think that influencer marketing is a brand new field that we’re just now starting to build. I definitely do not think that influencer marketing will end anytime soon. Influencers have always existed. They’ve just become easier to access and keep up with thanks to social media. If it’s not on Instagram, we’ll still keep up with the people who inspire us somewhere else, whether it’s on Twitter, on Facebook, on Youtube or on a new platform. The Internet is what makes influencers accessible and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it.”
What about the blogging community?
After hearing from people who have made Instagram their JOBS, I was also curious about how it would affect a blogger-based community as well. Ell Duclos of @ellduclos is the owner of Boss Girl Bloggers and runs a Facebook group of over 33k members.
“I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I think what they are trying to achieve by hiding likes is good but it’s just going to create even more problems, especially in the influencer community. It’s so easy to spot those who buy fake followers and likes. Without being able to see likes, I feel like influencers will be able to get away with buying fake followers even more so than they do now! It’ll definitely benefit those who use Instagram as personal use because they won’t feel like they aren’t better than the next person based off of likes. I can definitely see it causing issues in the influencer/blogging community, which is why I will always say, take care of what’s YOURS. You own your blog and you don’t own social media. Focus on really building your blog community up because if Instagram takes a turn for the worst, so does your social media and the audience that goes with it!”
So, how bad is it?
As you can see, this isn’t the best thing that’s ever happened to the influencer/blogging community BUT there isn’t too much to worry about right now. Yes, it’s taking away one of the key metrics brands use to measure engagement but that doesn’t mean your brand deals HAVE to end. As Cate said, brands will just have to request screenshots to show proof of authentic engagement. This means that you will really have to think about your outreach strategy and how you frame your collaboration emails to brands.
Another thing to think about as Ell mentioned is that you do not own your social media. Instagram will always own it. You do however own your blog. Use Instagram as a funnel to your email lists and your blog so you can ensure that you don’t lose all of those followers if for some reason the platform takes a turn for the worst.
The one thing that I thought about when hearing about this is the worry that followers will just stop liking posts now. Because Instagram is basically stating that likes don’t matter, it could hinder the way people use the platform. Not only that, but the number of likes and comments you receive on posts determines how you rank in hashtags. So, is this the ultimate killer of the platform or is this just something that we are going to have to continue to work harder at? (because we haven’t already worked hard enough right?)
What can you do?
- While this doesn’t necessarily affect the US at this time, there are still some things you can prepare for because as we all know, Instagram doesn’t *really* care what us consumers or creators want. They really are doing what they want to do. (If they cared about what we wanted then they would have switched back to chronological order already)
- Focus on genuine comments. After the likes go away, these will really be the only things that matter from an outsiders point of view.
- If you aren’t already, respond to every single one of your comments (you really should already be doing this!) – It will show more than ever that you respect your audience’s thoughts and want to create a genuine connection with them. (plus, we aren’t sure how this is going to affect engagement rate calculators and if all they have to go off of is comments, you’re going to want those extra numbers in there to increase your rates.)
- Prepare your media kit to show updated stats on how many likes your photos get. A common misconception – your media kit shouldn’t always show rates. Especially with this new impending change with Instagram, you may now need to send your media kit to companies to verify your authenticity. Leave your rates out in the initial outreach email and create a separate rate sheet instead.
- ENCOURAGE your followers to continue liking your posts. Even though they won’t show, their likes still matter.
While Instagram keeps throwing out constant hoops for us to jump through, stay strong and keep jumping. It’s tough but thankfully there are tons of communities out there to help you and support you through it. Always always have another platform that YOU own that you can filter your audience through because that is what really matters most. NEVER let Instagram or any other social media platform be your only source of income and NEVER only rely on one platform.
Huge thank you to Cate, Ell, and Mikaela for chatting with me about this and sharing their expertise.
What are your thoughts on this new change?
Until next time,