Here’s the real reason why Instagram has ditched the likes..
Does Instagram have a hidden agenda?
Yep….. the whispers are true and Instagram has commenced the trial of removing likes from instagram. This ‘trial’ is taking place in six countries; Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Ireland & Japan.
Whilst it has received mixed reviews from people, I think we can all agree that it is a very bold move from Instagram, but arguably a necessary one.
Instagram is ‘claiming’ that they sacked the likes in order to mitigate the impact social media is having on young people’s mental health. The trial is hoping to ‘remove the pressure’ that people feel when posting to the digital platform. Instagram explains they want people to focus on the photos & videos that make them happy, and not on the number of likes and perceived social status that is associated with a high number of likes.
This theory has merit but have we all just fallen for this sole reason hook, line and sinker? I have my suspicions and believe there could be several hidden agendas that pushed the change over the line (spoiler alert… money and lawsuits).
The first reason…. money! Let’s take a look at some numbers. There are 25 million current active business users on insta, but only 8% of them are using paid ads.
Small businesses account for 97.4% of businesses operating in Australia (pwoooaahh). So one of instagram’s strategic goals is to appeal to the small businesses as an advertising platform and increase their revenue significantly. However, fellow business owner or digital marketer, I am guessing that you have experienced this all too familiar scenario. You spend hours creating and shaping a post that you are planning to promote on instagram. You hit the promote button on instagram with high hopes and later that day you receive the notification to say it’s been approved… now the waiting game. You monitor the ad closely over the first few days and notice minimal engagement (ahhh shit) but you hope it hits puberty and evolves in due time. But no, it doesn’t (ahhh fu*%k). You are not alone. Most small businesses struggle to get high engagement rates on their ads and struggle to make sales through instagram.
We know that businesses with a high level of social proof will receive higher numbers of engagement and this will help contribute to an increase in sales. Who wants to go inside the empty bar? Who wants to go into the empty cafe? Who wants to click on an ad with no likes?
No one – but that will now change!
By removing the ability to see the amount of likes and views an ad gets, we are removing the preconceived assumptions about the ad and the business!fighting chance! Instagram has now given small businesses a fighting chance by allowing them to advertise on the platform without the fear of receiving little engagement and consequently resulting in a downward snowball effect. It is likely that small businesses are now more willing to utilise instagram as a paid advertising tool, get better engagement from the ads, and therefore pump more money into the platform.
Well played instagram.
Hidden agenda number 2!
Whilst the platform has amazing features about it and can provide lots of entertainment, deep down we all know that overusing it can be detrimental to our health. There has been significant research that proves this theory and identifies many factors that contribute to depression, anxiety, loneliness and the list goes on.
How soon do you think it will be before we see hundreds of lawsuits popping up with people attempting to sue instagram for their mental health issues? By removing the ability to see likes and views on other people’s photos, instagram can prove they have taken significant action to mitigate the mental health damage the platform creates and are going to be significantly protected for any potential lawsuits that may be pitched their way.
Another smart business move instagram.
However, it is important to remember that instagram is explaining that it is just a trial and it may not last. Although, critics are saying that if small businesses don’t start pumping more money into paid advertisements, then likes & views will be back quicker than Usain Bolt’s 100m dash. Despite the potential hidden agendas, I for one, really do see the benefits of the change and hope that it is here to stay. Not just young people, but our society needs to break the habit of getting a short term ‘high’ from likes and we need to be encouraged to post what we truly like and be okay with whatever engagement we receive.
So even if this transition does have a few skeletons in the closet, I tip my hat off to instagram for making the move the way they have.