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My thoughts on the Instagram likes removal debate…

My thoughts on Instagram likes removal debate whathannahwrote polaroid

If you’ve missed the mass discussion on Twitter, Instagram has started rolling out a trial run of hiding likes on Instagram in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand this week:

 

It’s been getting talked about for a while – and divided opinions at the same time. Instagram has said that they “want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get”. Sounds good, but will it actually work like that? Or be beneficial in any way?

I’ve seen quite a few people on my Twitter timeline feeling a bit miffed at the though of it becoming a permanent feature on the app, though my feed is made up of approx. 99% bloggers and influencers so that kind of skews the information a little bit. There’s arguments about whether or not it’ll help with mental wellbeing, content quality and collaboration opportunities, but at this point in time, it doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what benefits or drawbacks the move will have. So, here’s my take on it!

FIRST OFF: just for any confusion about this whole “removing likes” thing: from what I can gather (as of July 2019), Instagram is planning on preventing people from viewing how many likes your photos and videos get. People can still opt to like them, and you yourself can view how many likes you receive, but you cannot view likes that others have gained. 

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I have two separate Instagram accounts (as I’ve spoken about before!): one for the blog, and one for personal use. I’m not fussed about the proposal to remove likes when it comes to the personal one, because I just like to post on there no matter what it is I’m posting about. But on my blog Insta, it’s a little different. Admittedly, I’ve switched from abandoning it to being obsessed with it more times than I can recall. But I do still think a lot about the content I put on there, and I actively try not to just post any old thing on there. I’d love to up my game, but I’m genuinely just too self-conscious to do the typical pretty blogger ‘gram photos, so…

One of the reasons I switch off so easily from that account is because I’m incredibly bad for looking to what everyone else is doing (exhibit A just up there in that last line!). I see people who are doing incredibly well for themselves in blogging, getting regular collabs, posting amazing photos, and as much as I love taking in their content, it also throws me off my own thing because I’m like “oh God, I’m rubbish”. And when I post a photo and get below 100 likes, I feel like a total failure. Before I gave up the last time, I was getting between 200 and 300 likes a post, and I guess I figured that would remain despite my months-long silence. Not quite the case. I know you get out what you put in, but because of that, I actually felt quite good about the thought of not knowing how many likes everyone else gets. It might stop me from being distracted by how well everyone else is doing, and therefore keep me from being so hard on myself and giving up so easily.

Of course, the issue people have with this is the fact that you can still see how many likes you get yourself. If you’re feeling bad about your engagement levels, then it doesn’t really do much to combat that. And what’s more, if emphasis is taken away from likes, then people might not feel the need to continue to actually “like” content – meaning further drops in engagement. Hmm.

From a blogger/influencer point of view, there also seems to be a concern about the increased risk of fakery – that is, individuals choosing to purchase followers. Currently, it’s pretty easy to catch this out based on how many followers someone has vs. how much engagement their posts get. Although, in saying that, Instagram messing about with their algorithms for a while has meant my follower vs engagement levels have been suffering for the last year anyway… so perhaps this isn’t as big an issue in the first place? Purchasing followers is something that’s been happening for quite some time, so I don’t think this would impact it much. Well, hopefully not anyway!

When it comes to securing opportunities with brands, it’s already pretty difficult – so we can only hope that people won’t take advantage of the ability to slightly twist the truth when they’re approached. Instagram has also stated that “for businesses and creators on Instagram, this test will not affect measurement tools like Insights or Ads Manager”. I’m sure many serious businesses make use of platforms and do their research before reaching out to influencers, so I suppose we’ll see how that turns out. Stay honest pls!

Personally, I thought the idea was a bit pointless. But after properly considering it, I feel like I’m starting to come around to it and actually kind of welcome it. Partly, yes, because I don’t exactly have likes to flaunt, and maybe if I knew people couldn’t tell how well it was performing, I’d retain motivation and inspiration and actually post some decent things (!). But when it comes to Instagram’s claims that they’re making the move in a bid to remove pressure on mental health – well, it doesn’t really do much, does it? You’ll still be able to see the number, and there’s still the opportunity to feel the pressure. As for the business side of things, we’ll just have to wait and see what effect it’ll truly have. Maybe it’ll end up becoming easier for content creators!

I’m still somewhat split – how do you feel about it? Let me know down below!

 

Featured image by Serena Yun on Unsplash

 

whathannahwrote

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5 COMMENTS

  • elenxmai

    I love the idea of removing the likes because people really do take it seriously. I can’t say I’ve ever beaten myself up about not getting “enough” likes on anything so it’s neither here nor there for me. I do agree that it’s pointless in a sense though because people might start posting screenshots of their own likes to show off or something. Hopefully it’ll make Instagram a more pleasant experience for the masses though! xx
    El // Welsh Wanderer

  • Tamara

    I had mixed feelings too. I am in Canada so my number of likes have already been removed. I can still see it, and determine my self worth, through Insights. I haven’t seen a change in engagement yet. That being said most of my followers are fellow bloggers supporting bloggers so there is that 😂.
    Now if IG really wanted to help with mental health, they should find a way to cut back on all the troll accounts, fake accounts and those that follow just to unfollow.
    Tamara | The Gutz Life

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      That’s so interesting hearing from someone who’s already had them removed! Glad to hear your engagement hasn’t changed as a result – and totally agree on the steps they should be taking! x

  • I’m somewhat split, but also don’t really know how it would impact me/my IG until it happens (so it would maybe be good to have the option to opt out of it?). I only have a business account on IG and really want to grow it but it seems to have slowed down so much since the new algorithm, etc so if hiding likes improves engagement or not is what I’m more interested in knowing. Great post!

  • Dhawal

    I feel personally that it is really a good move on the Instagram’s part. All the fake liking or follower buying groups wouldn’t be much relevant. Also, there would be a lot less pressure on the people to upload something which can get more likes. So more people are to upload content they like or they want to instead of the thing which gets more likes. It goes same for both influencers as well as normal users. At times trends rule the platform so much that everyone is to rush into making same type of content. This would significantly have improved results as you can opt to see the likes if you want to but at the same time there’s no pressure on others to like the post or improve similar content just to gain more likes. Influencers can use the business tools to showcase their reach and engagement without having issues or pressure about uploading things which gain likes rather than uploading content they would upload normally.

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