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Dear Instagram User,
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you know that Instagram has now started taking away the ability to see other users like counts. My personal account was put on the list as one of the first groups to get my like count viewability revoked. I have been living with this new Instagram feature for about a week now and I am here to report that the Earth is still spinning, I am still breathing and that when it happens to you, you too will survive. No need to panic.
It’s no secret that social media has the ability to be a toxic place if used in the wrong manner. The comparison game and constant highlight reel is inevitable. With that comes some self-esteem issues and thus even some mental health issues. Instagram is trying to combat that, cue the like change. Instagram started testing this new feature earlier this year in 7 countries around the world: New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil and Australia. After a period of time, what was the result of this test you may ask? Overall, it generally led to positive sentiment. With that, CEO Adam Mosseri decided it was time to roll out this new update to the U.S.
You now may be asking yourself why this change was even necessary in the first place. Well, according to Mosseri, the idea was to try to depressurize Instagram making it less of a competitive space, encourage users to post, connect and engage more and reduce social comparison and anxiety. He’s also discussed Instagram’s growing interest in being able to shop right on the app allowing Influencers and brands a new revenue stream.
If you aren’t aware, influencers usually get on brands’ radars for potential collaborations and sponsored posts (one way they make an income) by their engagement rate (how many people are liking, commenting, sharing and saving your post), by your content quality, direct conversions, positive return on investment and by their follower counts. Mosseri knows that influencers are a huge part of Instagram’s success as their audiences are the ones that continue to log into the app day after day to check in on their favorites. These content creators are vital to the success of the app and Instagram is aware of the fact that if this new update impacts the success of influencers, it may reconsider the change. In my opinion, that’ll never happen.
So now you may be wondering how I feel after a week of not being able to see anybody’s likes. Well first let me clarify, I can see my own like count. I can see the exact number of likes all of my posts receive. I cannot see the amount of likes another user’s post receives. Under your post where it used to say “liked by __ and 100 others” for example, it now just says “liked by __ and others”. You still have the ability though to like people’s content. You can still tap that little heart and show your love.
Honestly, I think this update is fabulous. I honestly do feel way less pressure posting content. I honestly feel like I can post whatever I want to whenever I want to. Get ready for 3, 4, maybe ever 5 posts a day (kidding of course, who has time for that).
But in all seriousness, I’m not mad about this change whatsoever. I feel like if anything, it’s encouraging me and pushing me to be more creative. I really have to work for that like, earn that like and when a post performs well, I get personal satisfaction knowing that people didn’t have to like it, but they still did anyway. I even love that I can’t see other people’s likes. It did make me feel bad when I saw other people post shitty quality images and get way more likes than a post I put time and effort into. Now, it doesn’t even matter because I can’t see if your post is performing well or not. From an influencer standpoint, I think this is pushing influencers to step up their game and is forcing brands to work with people who can contribute to actual metrics that matter and are attributable to success. Brands will now have to look at things like direct conversions, reach and click-through rates. If you work in marketing, you know that this is wayyyyy more substantial to businesses than vanity metrics.
If this slight change will help with mental health too, then of course I am all about it. In fact, I’m kind of more inspired than ever. I know people don’t want to see my face every single day, so I’m all for bringing back the creative flat lays, beautiful landscapes and food pics. Heck, maybe I’ll even pick up my camera again and just start snapping away. As new platforms start to gain popularity, like TikTok, Instagram needed to always evolve to remain relevant in the ever-changing world we live in. Evolution is key, not our enemy.
The cons of the update you may ask next? I hate that not everybody has the new update yet. I’m constantly asking people “do you still have likes” “can you see likes on Instagram?” I swear it’s my new form of an icebreaker. I wish they would just roll it out to everyone already so we can all adapt together. It’s coming though, no worries. Some of the influencers I follow are complaining that removing likes will only shift users into playing the comparison game in terms of comments on posts or follower counts. I don’t agree with this at all.
I think if you have a verified, real following (not bots or fake accounts) and if you’ve built a solid following of engaged users (not people who are commenting “love this” or “you go girl”) but rather asking thoughtful questions and conversing in an organic way, then you girl should have nothing to worry about. I absolutely HATE when people say that Instagram is just a highlight reel, like yeah duh!! Bad things happen enough in my life as it is, I don’t want to navigate to my escape space and read about your awful day too. If people are truly making you feel that terrible about yourself, then newsflash you need to start unfollowing and find people who inspire and encourage you to be a better person. Besides that, I really don’t have any other things tearing at my heart. I think I’m pretty good with it.
All in all, there’s truly nothing that any of us can do about this change. If a slight update to an app is making you that pissed off, then in the words of Taylor Swift “you need to calm down.” If you’re worried about the comparison game continuing with other Instagram metrics, well that sounds more like a you problem than an Instagram problem. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s world and frankly we’re all just living in it. As previously mentioned, the Earth is still spinning, I am still breathing air, my cat still needs to eat food, nothing that earth-shattering is actually happening in our lives. I promise you it will be okay. In fact, I think this a great step in our relationship. Embrace it. Love it. Revel in it and push yourself to create bomb content people want to like because well, you don’t really have a choice either way.