The desire for social media among the younger generations has increased drastically in recent years. But there has been growing concerns over the impact it has on their mental health. So what are brands doing to combat this?
Not only is there a struggle evident among younger users of Instagram, but influencers also. The growing desire to become an influencer has had a particular toll on the “OG” influencers due to new influencers taking a cut price in order to secure lucrative brand deals to kickstart their career.
To combat the growing concern of mental health supposedly caused by the platform, Instagram has begun experimenting by hiding users’ likes in a select number of countries around the world. Instagram bosses have outlined ‘likes’ as the potential problem and are hoping it makes it “less of a competition.” Ideally, this will allow users to start building a brand or profile that is not based on popularity, merely your personal interests.
Although the outcome of this experiment can only be positive long term, advertisers’ lives are about to become a lot harder.
The Problem It Could Cause
With more than 200 million ‘Instagrammers’ visiting a minimum of one business profile each day, the problem created by hiding likes becomes clear. Brands creating content or partnering with influencers rely on validation. Consumers, influencers and brands all monitor the likes on their post to define their popularity and what other people define as popular, removing this function takes out advertisers’ key form of measuring their results. Uh oh.
Although the user uploading the post can view their own likes, the engagement rates are likely to drop in certain instances due to other users being unaware of the post’s popularity. This will have an effect on the brand’s understanding of their audiences’ appreciation for their uploads.
The removal of likes for influencers and brands could create a knock-on effect. Will they become hesitant to liking other users’ posts if they start to see a decline in their own likes?
Brand collaborations with influencers could also become affected. Brands will no longer get a first impression when looking for influencers to collaborate with, other than their followers. Followers (unless you’re an A list celebrity) can be deceiving in terms of ROI, based on not knowing exactly how many of their followers are active, let alone real. Typically a brand would like to monitor an influencer’s likes to establish their engagement rates before partnering with them. But yes, brands will still have their fancy social listening tools etc, so this may not actually cause too much of a problem.
There Are Still Ways to Measure Engagement
Although it appears daunting at first, it’s not the end of the world. Seriously it’s not.
Instagram has various metrics to evaluate post performances. With less likes to be judged by, it could inspire or elevate other forms of engagement, such as comments, as users look to explore the variety of ways they can engage. But comments are not quite the same as a like. A like is a disposable appreciation. You don’t even think about it – it’s quick and simple. But a comment is deeper than that, it needs that extra bit of effort, suggesting that it’s a more meaningful engagement. So, although a lack of validation from likes may elevate other deeper forms of engagement, the content must be engaging and strong enough to entice it.
All brands and influencers typically have a business account, meaning they have access to their insights including their reach and demographics. Although likes are important to engage users and measuring on the surface, the important metrics are all behind the scenes.
Brands and influencers will notice the difference between their trend hoppers from their loyal followers. When targeting an influencer for a brand collaboration, it will become easier for brands to identify who has a loyal following, thus making it easier to identify an influencer that best fits their brand’s voice. This will improve the longevity of focusing on your loyal followers.
Will It Actually Cause a Problem?
Initially, engagement rates are likely going to drop. Consumers however are always looking for a way to associate and appreciate their followed brands, inevitably meaning they’re going to find a way to show that within social. Whether that be through sharing, commenting or purchasing within your social channel, they will showcase engagement. Alternatively, businesses will still be able to use other metrics that Instagram and other analytical tools offer to measure your engagement and reach.
The biggest concern would be for users to stop liking all together. By removing likes from the trend of Instagram, would it become unpopular as a feature entirely? Probably not, but this would limit brands’ opportunity to appear on the top of users’ feeds and their explore page due to a potential change in the platform’s algorithm.
But don’t stress too much, everyone loves a like.
Although the feature has not rolled out worldwide, the response from the majorities have been positive; implicating a social world without the pressure of reaching likes, but a world in which content is truly valued for its quality. As with all changes, advertisers will carefully monitor whether Instagram is still a viable platform, but, their attention could be swayed to alternative platforms.
Ultimately, advertisers will be looking for various ways to engage with content outside of the renowned like format. The desire to engage with popular content will drive consumers to find other ways to showcase their appreciation, we just have to ensure our content is there to entice them.