Beauty, Fashion, Travel, Fitness, Wellness and Lifestyle Blog | Emtalks


Friday 26 July 2019

Instagram Removing Likes From Images

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My Instagram @emshelx / feed edited using Ems Presets Instagram filters /

Hey guys, hope you’re all so well. Todays blog post is a hot topic right now and honestly, I started writing this blog post months ago when Instagram first announced they may be removing likes from platform. I didn’t for a second believe that Instagram would ever actually remove likes from their platform which is why I never actually went ahead with writing the blog post. Here we are today, with many countries likes now being hidden on Instagram, so yep, it does appear Instagram are removing likes. Today I want to break this down and talk about my thoughts about Instagram removing likes from photos...
instagram feed

My Instagram @emshelx / feed edited using Ems Presets Instagram filters /

Instagram tweeted to say:
'We’re currently running a test that hides the total number of likes and video views for some people in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand'.
instagram removing likes

The reason behind it?

'We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received'. 

instagram removing likes

My opinion: 

You may remember I went to the RewardStyle blogging conference in Dallas last year and it was there that I learnt all about Instagram and the much discussed algorithm. I know people get so tetchy when anyone talks about the algorithm *it actually makes me nervous to even mention it* but factually, the algorithm is a thing. 

To cut a long story short: Instagram is a free app and they needed to eventually make money so to do this, they limit the amount of reach certain posts get, this means it doesn't reach your whole audience and you or a brand must pay to promote this post to reach the audience you built. It's a real shame because I see people getting messages every day saying 'I'm not seen your content' and that's purely because Instagram want you to pay to push that content out further and of course, they're winning because brands pay so much to boost posts so they're now earning money in that way. I absolutely understand Instagram needing to make money, just like I have to make money, but I wish there was a different way.

It gets tiring seeing people say 'just make your content better' or 'stop posting photos like x,y and z and you may get more likes' it's so much deeper than the content you post, I follow some phenomenal, creative accounts who get barely any reach and also I follow girls who used to get double the likes and don't anymore and it's definitely down to an algorithm change. That's not to say that we shouldn't all up our content game and be more creative, but ultimately, there is an algorithm at play, deciding which content gets pushed out. It goes without saying, the better the content, the more likely it'll gain traction and therefore, be pushed out but Instagram at the moment is seeing some big changes and it's definitely doing something to peoples engagement. There's absolutely no need to drag anyone in this, or insult their content, we should absolutely all work together rather than deny the fact that there's an algorithm in the first place. 

Do I need likes for validation? Personally, no, but it is hard when you put your energy into creating content for it not to be shown to everyone and most creators feel that way. It can also be tough when our clients rely on likes as a metric to show someones worth/value (even though realistically a like shows nothing about someones value, but in business terms it does). Equally, it's really not the end of the world and we can put our energy into other things. It just reminds me not to put all my eggs into one basket with one platform, if you are someone using Instagram as a business. I wrote a whole blog post here about Instagram likes and needing likes for validation. 

Some of the tweets about Instagram removing likes are horrific to be honest, it does often seem like some people will do anything to shunt the blame onto influencers and it just gives them an excuse to name call, calling them 'thirsty' for needing 'likes for validation' etc, but to be honest, when a whole industry is run on likes and has been for years (in fact, millennials in general are used to uploading content for likes, influencer or not), you can't really blame people for seeing their value based on likes, even though they know they're worth more than this.

How are Instagram removing likes?

Instagram: 'You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received'. 

I personally find this a little bit weird, I actually would prefer if Instagram just removed likes entirely, than removed it just so other people can't see as actually, I don't personally compare my level of likes to another persons level of likes (there are so many other factors to consider when wanting to work with someone from a business point of view than a number of likes and luckily, brands are starting to understand this now) so to remove it just for others but not the actual user kind of defeats the objective I'd say? It's good in a sense as I can then still send screenshots of my insights to brands but at the same time, I'll still be checking to see how many I got so whilst it may get rid of comparison syndrome for some people, the user still has to see their likes.

Business wise:

Let's start with discussing Instagram removing likes from a business point of view as I've seen lots of people be worried about how this is going to affect their businesses.

- Bad for people wanting to show a good level of engagement - Some brands want to see engagement levels from people, so I guess as an 'influencer' it may deter brands from getting in touch but on the flip side, if you ever read my blog post about people buying Instagram likes and followers, some of the engagement you are seeing may be fake anyway so by scrapping likes all together, I hope it will stop people buying their likes. 

- Good because the algorithm can be a nightmare and doesn’t even favour good content sometimes - I think it's great in this sense because actually, it means we can post what we want, when we want, without worrying about the likes. I worry that it may deter people from liking posts anymore though which could cause complications when brands do still ask for insights. If someone knows likes are no longer seen, they will probably scroll on through rather than hitting that heart button.

- Often I find camera content does worse as consumers don’t click like - I've done tests and found that beautifully shot professional camera imagery just doesn't do as well as my content shot on an iPhone or a Google Pixel for example. It's very frustrating as some days I love taking photos on my camera but decided to scrap the high quality content a while ago in favour of more 'real' iPhone shots as it seems that's what people are liking (or at least on my feed anyway). It will be nice to be able to post whatever I like, rather than having to post 'insta-worthy' shots that make the algorithm happy. I feel like I may be able to post more high quality content or even, shock horror, a mirror shot once in a while. I adore high quality content but I don't want the bar to be set as every single photo has to be me hanging off the edge of a cliff in a tropical location with a film crew, I want to be able to mix up real life shots with beautifully shot content so maybe this will help as we aren't restricted by what will hit the algorithm and please certain audiences and not. 

- May make people buy more fake followers -
If likes can't be seen, does this mean more people will buy fake followers? The best way to spot fake followers is Social Blade, as I said, read my blog post here so you can fully see how to detect this but generally you can spot bot behaviour or fake follower buying, I hope by removing likes this will deter from people buying them. 

- Will take a lot more proving yourself, eg. bloggers be prepared to send detailed sales stats to prove your worth - I think this is a really positive thing, I don't think someones worth comes from a number or likes, nor does their influence. As an 'influencer' be prepared to sell yourself more or prove your worth in other ways as there's more to working with someone than just likes. 

- People may stop liking as they know likes can't be seen, meaning reach will be lower - Many people follow and don't like photos nowadays anyway, which is why the 'impressions' insights on Instagram is so important, a post may only have 1000 likes but it may have 40,000 impressions, aka 40,000 eyes have seen it but only 1000 of those people clicked the like button. This is great as if someone has bought their likes, generally it means impressions will be lower as not that many eyes have actually seen it. If they do roll out the 'no likes' feature on Instagram, doesn't this mean people will stop liking photos entirely? 

I must reiterate the fact that from a personal level, I don't mind about likes but from a business level obviously it is handy and helpful if people do click the like button. I actively scroll through my feed and like and comment on peoples photos because I guess I know how much effort has gone into creating that content.

What to do if you are a business or influencer using Instagram:

- Continue posting as I know the algorithm often makes us not want to post, but continue posting!

- Continue engaging and supporting other fellow businesses, influencers, creators. This doesn't mean leaving an emoji comment, (insta picks this up as spam), it means reading their caption and taking the time to leave a genuine comment if you like what you see. I truly believe in leaving nice comments and just helping each other out.

- Don't let it get you down because ultimately, the app is in control, not you. There's only so much you can do content wise and engagement wise so you may as well post what you want to post!

- If you follow a lot of influencers or small businesses you can always put notifications on for them, that way you wont ever miss their posts as you'll get a notification when they post! 

Mental health wise:

I have seen a lot of people talking about Instagram removing likes from a mental health point of view and I think that's great. Instagram say removing likes will remove 'social pressures'. I know a lot of people who get incredibly worked up about their engagement being down or their likes not being high enough and it goes without saying that this isn't healthy and there's more to life but equally, I get it, it's their business. Personally that's why I think they should remove them all together as then you wont even be able to check to see how a photo did but on the flip side, I understand that will cause issues for people who use Instagram as a business as they do need to show likes to people sometimes.

I truly believe if you do have self esteem issues or confidence issues then likes aren't actually the problem but it may be something deeper rooted (which is nothing to be worried about, we all have struggles) and we should actively be speaking to someone about this (I always recommend speaking to your GP, a parent/teacher, the Samaritans or lots of free helplines if you're feeling down).

- Incredible as the algorithm can make people feel down -  Now I know there are people who hate anyone mentioning the algorithm, but for people who do get down about creating content for it not to be seen, it will be good if they also can't see other peoples likes as a comparison or, their own likes too.  
- Great from a comparison point of view -
If people do compare themselves to others, it should help from this respect.

- Sadly some people in the world judge peoples worth or value by a number -  I know people who don't associate with people because they don't have enough numbers for them, I see this in the industry and at events on a monthly basis so hopefully it will stop the whole judging someones worth by a number. When you're on your death bed, no-one is going to sit there and remember you for the amount of Instagram likes you got.

Photo edited using Em's Presets filters 

My final thoughts on Instagram removing likes: 

I think Instagram will turn into a kind of new Pinterest, with people posting content they genuinely want to post, with not a care in the world about how it will or wont do in terms of engagement, it will be liberating as they're not restricted now by things being 'insta worthy' or wondering if it will hit the algorithm? I've seen people say they're so nervous about posting photos because they know it will flunk within the algorithm. It just simply wont matter anymore. It will be nice to be able to be more creative and try new things rather than the standard avo on toast or Five Guys photo because we know they do well. It'll be nice to get my creativity back. 

I think from a business point of view, it may mean impressions are lower as people will scroll and not like/engage, but hopefully in the future they'll just remove likes entirely rather than allow the user to see them. 

Surely the only way to stop people 'comparing' or looking at likes from a 'mental health' point of view is to just remove them entirely?  In my opinion we should stick with impressions as a metric anyway. 

I taught myself a long time ago that I am more than a number and more than a like, so I'm quite relaxed from that point of view. I know that some content does well and some content doesn't, it's the way Instagram is. I know I work hard and I know I put my heart and soul into everything I do (plus, turn down so many things that don't align with my channels) there's really no point putting all your eggs into one basket with Instagram so use this as motivation to push your blogs and YouTube too if social media is your business.

Remember: When you're on your death bed, no-one is going to sit there and remember you for the amount of Instagram likes you got and your grave stone will definitely not mention this either, so be known for being funny and kind, rather than letting Instagram rule your life and trust me, I know it's hard in an industry that's all about 'likes'.

You might also like:

 Instagram likes and needing likes for validation
What are gifted items on Instagram? 
How I Edit My Instagram Photos 
12 social media influencer tips

Lots of love, Em x

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