What Instagram's changes could mean for your business
Your Instagram feed could be about to look very different.
A trial – initially launched in Canada – has seen the number of “likes” on content hidden from public view. After Instagram revealed that the trial would be expanded to the United States, it now seems that it's also been rolled out to some UK accounts.
Now, likes only display one user’s name and list “others” for the rest. Users are still able to see the number of likes on their own content, but not other people’s.
Why is Instagram hiding likes?
Instagram has offered two explanations for its decision. The first is, “we want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get”. The second has a similar message, but with a more personal tone: “we want people to worry a little less about how many likes they are getting”.
In this way, the change can be seen as Instagram’s response to reports linking social media to a rise in people feeling negative or anxious about their own body image. A 2017 poll by the Royal Society for Public Health ranked Instagram as the most negative platform for wellbeing.
With likes no longer being public, it will be much harder to compare your own content directly against others. In theory, this would stop people feeling the need to emulate or strive to match the “perfect look” content that performs well on the platform.
But, as our exclusive online poll has revealed, 63% of Professional Beauty readers believe that this change won’t have the desired effect. Instagram may have to go further than this to help create a more positive environment.
What this means for your business
Even if you think this change is only cosmetic, the impact it could have on your business’s social media channels is much bigger. If you were previously able to draw in big numbers of likes and attract new custom this way, then you’ll have to come up with new ways to make your profile stand out.
As previously covered in these columns, keeping your Instagram regularly updated will be one way to ensure this. If you’re consistently posting content, this looks much stronger than a page that appears neglected. Similarly, content that encourages comments – which won’t be hidden – will also be particularly valuable.
Without a doubt, influencers will be the most affected group by the change in likes. Many influencers use engagement as their “clout”, guaranteeing a certain number of likes per post. With these being hidden, it’s much harder to prove how effective one influencer is against another.
Of course, if you’re already using (or planning to use) influencers for your business, this doesn’t mean they are no longer viable assets. Consider other stats that are equally important. Ask them for the reach of their posts – this figure is much more likely to give you an accurate idea of their value to your business than a follower count, for example. Similarly, influencers who can craft content that creates a positive buzz in their comments will be particularly valuable.