Two days ago, researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered and shared on her Twitter account the Instagram hiding likes internal prototype. Basically, a new Instagram where likes are hidden to the public. In the same week, Lush, the cosmetics giant, has decided to leave Instagram (and the other social media platforms) to focus on opening up a direct conversation with its community. It’s been an intense few days at Instagram HQ, I guess.
Instagram Hiding Likes: for real?
I don’t know if the two things are connected, but in a way, I think they are. Think about an Instagram where numbers were hidden. Imagine that the number of likes a post had before you’d seen it wasn’t there. Imagine you wouldn’t know how many followers your favourite influencer / blogger / brand had. Would you like their pic anyway? And would you follow that person? How much of what we do on social media is a response to what others have already done?
In the screenshot, the number of likes a post gets would only be visible to the user who posted it. Everyone else will just see one username of someone who liked the post accompanied by “and others.” Obviously, there were mixed responses on Twitter and beyond. Influencers are freaking out about their positions, while brands wonder how they can now find the real influencers.
Instagram Hiding Likes? For real?
The PR people at the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, was quick to confirm to TechCrunch that ‘We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.‘ They also added, “we are exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.” Perhaps, Instagram (and Facebook?) will finally address the validation culture spreading issue (“I am not worth as much as that person as I have fewer likes/followers”), since it’s clear that teenagers, as well as grown-ups, are suffering by the pressure of social media competition.
Being an influencer without the metrics
Being an influencer is mainly based on those metrics, the numbers (real or bought) you can show brands to actually get a free stay in a 5-star hotel or a £10K picture to promote the launch of a new product. Can influencers exist without numbers?
If their engagement is hidden, then it would be harder if not impossible for brands to find them. Is this why Instagram has launched the new Creators account? Perhaps. We don’t know yet. Or maybe it’s simply to clean up the app from fake influencers and wannabe-famous?
Perhaps it’s time to go back to real marketing, where conversion matters more than a heart or a POD’s comment. Maybe brands, inspired by Lush, should invest more time in building their own community rather than wasting time on built-up audiences of ghost followers and fake profiles.
Is this the end of Instagram?
Lush clearly stated that they “are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed”. Oh! I so agree. Like Lush, in my little micro-world, I’ve built my community from scratch, from 0, curating my gallery day after day, year after year (it’s been 8 years now!!!), Instagram’s peeps put me on the now-dead Suggested User List twice and I do not want to pay to appear on the newsfeed of people who’ve already chosen to follow me.
I followed the Instagram rules, I’ve built a strong community wherever I went. Back in London, I used to host and gather dozens of strangers for brunch and photo walks. I even took the format to Milan, Tuscany India, Australia with me during my 23-month trip around the world. I hosted several free Instagram & photography workshops (now all my workshops have a price tag, #sorrynotsorry). All for Instagram. And my community of course.
I don’t know if it’s a smart marketing move, but I love Lush’s bold move and I 100% agree on their new commitment:
Let’s spark passions, and stop chasing likes.
What about small brands/entreprenurs then?
Well, my Instagram workshops always start with this sentence:
We are here to build your brand. First thing we build your community, then we think about your Instagram. Instagram is an instrument, not your goal.
Like Lush, I never paid for advertising. Not for the Storyeller at least (I do run campaigns for my clients). I’m not an influencer nor a brand. But even if I were, I wouldn’t want to pay for being seen by you. And honestly, I believe that Instagram hiding likes could be the only way to save this platform from an implosion.
If you chose to follow me, you have the right to see my posts regardless.
I have the right to be seen by you.
Maybe it’s time for all of us to realise that the Instagram era is over and to go back to what’s really important?
Are you for or against Instagram hiding likes? Are you thinking about leaving Instagram?
Let me know in the comments below and join the debate on my stories!
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