|The influencers have seemingly accepted their fate and standing with Instagram’s plan to hide the likes of a post. / Photo by: prykhodov via 123rf|
From cautious anticipation, the influencers have seemingly accepted their fate and standing with Instagram’s plan to upend a crucial aspect of the social media model: No more views on the likes of a post. One doesn’t need to look any further than the closest social media platform to deduce that like counts on posts are what drive content forward.
On the social media platform Twitter, likes and engagement of a particular post drive traffic, regardless of what the content of the post is. The algorithm can’t make out hate comments on a racist post as something to be frowned upon and definitely not something supposed to go viral, so they go viral anyway.
For Twitter and its many denizens, moral ambiguity in posts are just part of their everyday lives on the platform: non-committal, totally ignorable if they want to do that. For the denizens and career men and women of Instagram, though, the opposite is true. Or is it? And how has the influencer opinion shifted from apprehension of the new hidden likes feature to relieved acceptance?
|On the social media platform Twitter, likes and engagement of a particular post drive traffic, regardless of what the content of the post is. / Photo by: Peter Ksinan via 123rf|
Effect One: Brands Forming Better Influencer Partnerships
Here we might be inclined to ask the people who work on the platform the above-mentioned question, after all, it’s their business that is directly affected by it. What really will be the effect of this change?
According to social media influencer Christina Galbato for CNN Business, she is not quick to dismiss the fact that there is a very specific kind of insecurity that comes with putting oneself out there through a series of images. Galbato admits that she, and many others like her, feel a little piece of themselves chipping away if a picture doesn’t generate as many likes as they want.
“Influencers often have an emotional tie to the images they create,” she shares CNN Business, “so when the ideal number isn’t hit, we interpret the lower like count to mean that our content isn’t up to par.”
Still, Galbato says that it will likely be a good thing in the long run because it will put the pressure on brands to truly make meaningful connections with the influencers they want to work with. They will rely less on the likes and analyze the effect of the influencer on their audiences, which often goes unnoticed when the likes are through the roof. From there, they assume that a post and an influencer hold promise, but in reality, likeability and marketability are dependent on more factors other than the number of likes on a post.
Another lifestyle blogger, Grace Atwood, shared to BuzzFeed News similar views on the like count being taken away, predicting that it is likely that the first thing brands will do to is “start to value other metrics, [such as] saves, comments, shares, etc.”
After too many incidents of brands getting duped into thinking an influencer is famous just for the number of likes in a majority of their posts (it happens more often than one thinks), this new offering by Instagram ensures that brands start to work smarter with influencers.
Effect Two: Better Youngsters
On the business side of things, more and more influencers are seeing this change as something that will shake the core of the influencer world in the best possible way. While for the more simple individual, those of us who just live our day-to-day with not so grandiose a purpose for social media, the hidden likes feature is also seen as a means to help young ones on the platform navigate their social media environment in a health way.
There’s no way a child of the last decade won’t be on any social media platforms by now; sure there are outliers, but the digital natives of the last ten years will always be connected to social media in some way.
This is why psychologist Dr. Sam Scott of The Child and Family Center says that the hidden likes feature will act as “a small band-aid for a much larger problem,” which is the self-esteem issues that children of today are constantly experiencing.
He tells 47 ABC, “When kids are looking for that validation and don’t get it, their minds go a hundred miles an hour probably in a very negative path. And so people like me, I’m not cool enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skinny enough, my family’s not rich enough--you name it.”
Nikki Write, another blogger and influencer with 14,000 followers under her belt, has opinions on both sides of the spectrum. She admits that this will bring a crucial challenge to her and her brand in terms of lessened engagement, but agrees that the change will surely help the youth of today--especially girls--gradually separate the idea of fame and acceptance from vapid, meaningless heart-shaped indicators on glowing social media sites.