Perusing Instagram stories, I came across one of a rather glum looking Influencer complaining that their latest post promoting their small, ethical and otherwise good for the world company had received the least engagements they’d had for any post for a while.
Perhaps I’m pre-judging, but this is an influencer who will post to their feed, and then to the their story asking followers to “go and show it some love”. It’s a clever ploy, making everyone feel good about themselves by giving them our money.
This is a slightly different case, for this is an Influencer who has built some success and is now using that popularity to support their own ventures. The building blocks of that success, though, is likes, and that is something that Instagram is thinking of removing.
Whatever the analytics from business pages, algorithm changes mean that likes are how Influencers are recruited. Reach, impressions and all that stuff is for the business side. Likes are where the influence is, because they influence other people in to believing popularity and therefore that everything being advertised is great.
Pedestrian carries some great quotes about the effect of removing likes. Perth-based fitness and food influencer Jem Wolfie called it “demotivating”. Another influencer by the name of Zak Hasleby said the changes would take away the “backbone” of influencing and make it “really hard to start being an influencer”.
My favourite one was so bad I can’t decide whether it’s a joke or not. “Nasser Sultan unleashed a furious rant on Instagram.”
“It is outrageous that I don’t look like a celebrity now and people can’t see how popular I am with my posts.”
Influencer Jade Kevin Foster told Daily Mail Australia that the ban is “a really great movement going forward” and is finally “giving influencers their lives back”.
He explained: “We constantly spend so much time checking our ‘likes’ and now this will give us more time to spend maintaining and making real relationships, and not just ones on our phone.”
I guess I find most of the quotes bizarre because I still don’t think of a social media app as one to make a living, period. I can see it as an assistance to a career given its advertising capacity, but a lot of quotes are still that bane of modern life and are famous for being famous. When someone can see it as an aspirational career goal to influence by using an app to sell someone else’s products, I can’t help but think that the world has past me by.
Instagram’s reasoning for this is to relieve pressure on its users, by removing comparison. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told BuzzFeed News that the purpose of the test was to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
But Instagram isn’t the only platform to weigh the effects of like counts on users’ mental health. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said if he had to go back and redesign the platform, he “wouldn’t even have a like count in the first place.” Dorsey has floated the idea before of getting rid of the “like” button to ensure the platform is “incentivizing healthy conversation,” but Twitter has denied that will happen anytime soon.
Tara Hopkins, head of public policy at Instagram, said: “We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they share, not how many likes they get. We are now rolling the test out to more countries so we learn more from our global community and see how this can benefit people’s experiences on Instagram.”
I think this is the big part for me. I follow a few people who are Influencers who I followed because I like their accounts. They used to post workout videos, or healthy recipes. Now they post a photo of themselves wearing a watch, and plug the watch. Or they post videos of themselves on gifted holidays, or wearing gifted clothes. They are actually now quite a distance removed from what they were, and yet seem to be becoming bigger the more they do it, and I’m concerned that people see this as a career.
I’m more concerned when you look at some of the articles I read before writing this when you see that most of the influencers interviewed just so happened to be female and in various states of undress.
The content is no longer original or thought about. The adverts lack the context now, for me. Why ask someone to post about a sports watch when the majority of posts are about holidays with significant others or the latest party they’ve been invited to? There is now a preference to quantity over quality.
Instagram used to be about the photos, not what was below them. I’m hoping that removing likes now makes people think what they’re putting out there.
When Instagram first started monetising by including advertising, the adverts were supplementary to a company’s regular marketing strategy. But, alas, this is the Age of the Influencer where Instagram is the marketing strategy.