Instagram is Changing!

Likes, retweets, comments; these social media tools have become part of our everyday language. Millions of people voice their approval with the click of a button day after day. Whether it’s a glorious gif or a marvellous meme, popular posts generate a huge amount of exposure for their creators. From a multi-national conglomerate unveiling its new product, to a Youtuber broadcasting the latest on their pet dog, content remains king!

From a marketeers perspective, these metrics can provide valuable insights into the launch & promotion of a product or service. They can enable content creators to tweak or even discard a campaign if there is insufficient or negative feedback. Social media can be an important testing ground! The more likes or retweets viewers see on a post the more likely they are to appreciate it too.

However, this chase for likes is having a negative impact on the mental health of followers, especially the young. In an article for The New Statesman a 17 year old interviewee explained how the need for likes on social media had affected him:

“Likes are always an indicator of social standing, at my age… As someone who gets anxious and occasionally struggles with self-esteem, the number of likes on my posts can be both hugely uplifting or depressing.”

As the effects of long-term social media usage have become more apparent, governmental pressure on the social media giants has forced them to make changes.

Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users, 71% of which are under 35. In a bid to keep their users happy and begin tackling these social issues, Instagram are conducting a trial across six countries, during which they will hide the number of likes a post gets from public view. If the pilot proves successful it could become a permanent feature. Only the owner of the profile could see the number of likes received. The hope is that users won’t feel so anxious if their posts get little to no attention.

What Does This Mean For the Future?

In future, the only way a person could see if a post is popular is by analysing the number of comments received. However, research has proved that people are significantly less likely to comment on a users content than to simply ‘like’ it. And this is what’s worrying marketeers. Clicking ‘like’ is an immediate reaction that requires little effort. Comments require thought and extra clicks! Which results in less of them.

This could cause particular concern for social media influencers and celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Co. Companies fund individuals to promote their brand and products based on their influence within an online community. This includes the popularity of their posts. If companies can’t measure the number of likes that an influencer has received for a specific campaign, then it’s possible they may withdraw their support for them.

However, is it all bad news for businesses? Could there be benefits to this change? For example, some companies may welcome the chance to hide their ratings if they struggle to engage with their followers. For others this new-found privacy may encourage them to be more creative in the content they post, focusing on subjects that better resonate with potential customers. A lack of likes need not mean a lack of sales!

While some may consider Instagram’s pilot to be little more than a temporary PR stunt, the truth is only time will tell.

Here at DigitalDinos, we are extremely focused on data and analytics with all of our clients and likes can play a big part in measuring the success of a campaign. However, with the changing social climate, we agree it’s vital everyone feels happy and secure at all times!

To kick start your social media campaign and reach your target audience of the 1 billion+ users on Instagram & Facebook, get in touch today!