Two out of my three Instagram accounts have recently been added to the Instagram test group. This means that I can’t see other people’s like counts anymore. When Instagram announced this was happening, I had a few thoughts about it. And now I’ve gotten to get used to this feature a bit, I have some more opinions on it. Let’s talk about it!
The main reason Instagram said it was applying this no-like feature, was to improve the mental health of its users. I can definitely see how this could help improve some people’s mental state. If you’re really into the Instagram business, you might get lost in the numbers. You see how many likes your posts are getting, and how many likes other people’s posts are getting. If you don’t watch out, this might go to your head. You might always want to be gaining more likes and followers, and one-up other people, even though this is not even the goal of the app. The app exists to share content and thoughts, and appreciate each others content. And that is not a numbers game.
So to have the numbers taken away, might be an improvement for some people. The focus can change again to the content instead of to the like counts. As I have mentioned in my post Thoughts on Instagram and its Communities, the numbers are important for a lot of people. In some communities, it’s all about the like for like and shoutout for shoutout. It’s all meant to gain numbers. Which, of course, is fine if that’s how you want to use this app. But it’s definitely not what the app is intended for. And you can see that it does affect people negatively. When the new algorithm was applied, people were nothing but angry. Everyone saw their numbers drop, and everyone hated it. Even I did for a second. I have just managed to let it go a bit these past months. The algorithm isn’t going to change anytime soon, so you just have to deal with the poorer numbers. I try to deal with it, but it’s obvious a lot of others can’t. So deleting the like counts in total might actually be good for people. You can still see your own like counts and worry about those, but you can’t compare yourself to others anymore. So I do agree with Instagram that it can improve people’s mental health.
So, while we’re still on the topic of numbers. One thing I have noticed since this new feature was applied, is a drop in likes on my own account. I don’t really mind, since I just want to share my content, but it is a bit annoying to see that no one is seeing that content. I think it might be due to people not caring much about likes anymore, so also not about other people’s likes and liking other people’s posts. Or people aren’t enjoying the app anymore because of the new feature, so they won’t go on it and see your content. But that’s just speculation on my side. It might also have nothing to do with it and everything with how terrible my content is. You’ll never know.
However, besides the ‘improving your mental health’ reason, I have read another theory about why Instagram is applying this new feature. A lot of people think it has to do with Instagram’s own sponsored post feature. Right now, business on Instagram is booming. Many influencers are posting ads and sponsored posts and are being paid by brands. However, Instagram has its own feature for that, which is probably not being used that much. The influencer is the best medium right now, and a lot of brands are seeing that. But what if the brands can’t see your like counts anymore? They wouldn’t know if you receive enough interaction on your posts for their liking. Instagram has made it tougher for them to find influencers that are good for their brand. So what will these brands do when they aren’t sure about influencers anymore? Exactly. They turn to the Instagram sponsor feature. It’s the best and easiest thing for them right now, and it puts a lot of money in Instagram’s pocket.
I think this theory is definitely plausible. Also because, a day after the no-like feature was activated, I received an ad at the top of my feed saying: ‘Hey! Do you want to reach more people? Use our sponsored post feature now!’ There has always been a small, tiny ad for that on my every post, asking if I want to increase that post’s reach, but I have never had such a big ad on my feed for that. So that’s definitely suspicious, and it makes me think that it might all be about Instagram gaining more money. But, you know, it’s a company. Companies are all about gaining money, so why would it be a surprise if this is about money as well?
So, is this new feature here to ‘improve your mental health’ or is it to improve the sponsor sales for Instagram? I have no idea. What I do think is that it doesn’t really matter. If Instagram wants to gain more money, good for them. They can try however they like, but it won’t change much for the influencer. Brands collaborate with an influencer because they like that person’s feed, personality, and the impact they have on their followers. Not their specific like count. So, I don’t think influencers should be afraid that they’re not going to get any sponsor deals in the future. If a brand likes you, they like you and they would want to work with you. No stress there. Considering the mental health part, I do think it may be good for people. Bring the app back to content sharing in stead of the numbers game that it is now. People need to see it as a place of fun, instead of a place of validation and stress. Taking away the like count can actually be the solution for that.
In conclusion, I’m not worried about this new feature, and neither should you be. In the end, we’ll all get used to it again and keep on using the Instagram app. Not much will change there. I want to thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time!