by Cara McGlew
Rumors broke earlier this month that our beloved Instagram would be eradicating its “Likes” feature in the near future. This news was verified at Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference, announcing that the change would be rolled out a trial basis in early May. This isn’t the first, nor the last, time that a social media platform announced an upcoming change to an interface that Americans spend a significant part of their day with. In short, what this means is that only an account user will be able to see the full “Likes” count on their content where as currently, that information is readily available to each of a user’s followers publicly.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says. “During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.” Instagram hopes that this type of update will encourage a resurgence in organic posting on the platform. With the rise of Influencers and “Instagram-famous” celebrities, there is more of an emphasis on “Likes” than ever before. This type of engagement matters to those whose livelihoods are dependent on the platform and the content they share.
For the average Instagram-er, “Likes” are still prevalent. A recent study has shown that the obsession with “Likes,” the comparison to other profiles, and the validation that comes from it has had a negative effect on the wellbeing of young users. This can be seen manifesting in depression, loneliness, sleep deprivation and anxiety, naming only a few possible side effects. This update to Instagram aims to alleviate that pressure.
The time we spend intertwined with social media is also leading markers and businesses to refocus their targeting. “Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it,” says digital analyst Brian Solis. This will be another added benefit to the Instagram reboot- the push for authenticity. This call for authenticity has been on the horizon for months now as users have begun to reject the typical “Instagram aesthetic.” The staged and manicured perfection of what Instagram once was has traded up for a more relatable filtered lens. “Culture is a pendulum, and the pendulum is swaying. That’s not to say everyone is going to stop posting perfect photos. But the energy is shifting.”
Instagram is changing the conversation regarding public social media presence with their push for authenticity. As Influencers and average users are reverting back to posting less saturated content, brands may be called to do the same. Surely, a new developed form of competition will arise to fill that void.