Is Instagram Removing Likes to Kill Off Influencers and Force Brands to Buy Their Adspace?
There’s a term I slowly began to hate more than the decade old term “YouTube Celebrity”. It was “Instagram Influencer”. A group of Millennials raised off Kardashian gas fumes finding their self-worth through instant gratification on the World Wide Web. It’s pretty gross.
Keep in mind that after I post this article, I will spend the next few days seeing how many people have read it, and adjusting my morning smiles and coffee intake on what I discover. But that’s a different story.
Instagram is now hiding likes in the United States, 6 months after they first announced a “test” that would hide public like counts on all Instagram posts. You can still see how many, and who liked your posts but your followers can no longer.
What is their reasoning? They claim it was to eliminate the competitive pressure on the platform. Of course we all want people to “like” our stuff. But to what extent are people willing to do it? Also, what is their emotional temperature during that process?
This is mostly aimed at those I mentioned before, the Instagram Influencers. These are IG users who want money to endorse products and who rely on large numbers of likes to attract brand deals. Users like these will have to begin to produce metrics like adults to bring in new advertisers. No longer can Sally with her 34k followers dazzle a Yogurt producer by showing the 3k likes she received on her last post endorsing headphones. Paid posts will now require another form of metrics. Even more so, they might actually have to produce instant results.
I believe instagram had all this in mind. By Instagram removing likes, now an influencer has no KPI to sell brands on. The algorithm has changed because their post doesn’t have the visibility it used to. Brands are now forced to buy ads if they wanna target an audience on Instagram. It levels the playing field and Instagram will now maintain all the revenue on its platform.
Instagram already does a great job of this. Their sponsored posts often come off as native and generally work well (when well conceived) for an advertiser.
Keep in mind that all of this is just my own conspiracy theory. I’m sure Instagram has put a lot more thought in this beyond just bringing a few users down and capturing their few thousands here and there. But even if none of what I wrote was true, it will change how a few influencers do their business. More than anything, it might help with mine and many others’ social mental health.