With billions of active users, Instagram has quickly risen to the top of today’s social media world. A huge contribution to its success is due to the fact that it’s one of the rare social media platforms that doesn’t necessarily encourage social interaction between users. Instead, it’s a place where the vain can gather to post about their often-fabricated lives.
While this may sound harsh, many of you can admit that there is at least one photo on your profile that was taken to look a bit too perfect. This rise in Instagram has turned the platform into a competition of the fittest. Both in the physical and metaphorical sense.
Which is why when Instagram announced that it was no longer going to display the likes that each photo has, it was interesting to see the different reactions that it gained among users.
Likes are a key element to Instagram. The platform revolves around them. Not only do users determine their own value through how many likes they gain for each post, but they also use these likes to help determine the values of others, whether it be friends or celebrities.
Instagram likes were almost turned into a form of currency, and in some sense, even after they have been ‘hidden’, they still are. When Instagram pushed out this new feature at the beginning of the month, it only ‘hides’ the initial number from people who are viewing your picture. However, you as the user, can still see how many people actually liked your post.
On top of this, if someone really wanted to know how many people were liking your content, they could click on the likes and manually count the number of likes that you received since posting your favourite vacation photo.
So even though you can no longer can you see that Tom Holland has thousands of likes on his newest group pic with Zendaya (who are only just ‘friends’ FYI), you can clearly tell by a simple click that he has a lot more likes than the photo you just posted from your latest music festival trip.
As much as there seems to be a flaw to this method, I do get it. Instagram has recently announced that they wish to prioritize mental health. In fact, the famous Instagram stories that everyone has grown to love were created as part as this initiative.
While it seems as if the stories were created to take out their competitor Snapchat, Huffington Post also claims that the new feature was created in order to create a “less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,”. This means that Instagram is not disabling your like count in hopes to see you fail. Instead, they are testing out this new feature in hopes that is diminishes the amount of anxiety that users associate with the app.
Of course, whether or not it’s actually working is up for opinion. When I first heard about the announcement, I was one of the Instagramers who was against the change. Cutting to the point, I was consciously aware of my following and was always monitoring my likes.
Thinking about my future, I was afraid of how it may affect my business. Like many of those who are trying to start out on Instagram, I was worried that these lack of likes would diminish my following and the impact that I had on the users around me.
Yet, this isn’t really the problem. Advertisement has continued to change throughout the years. First through print advertisement, television commercial and even internet ads. As advertisement continues to evolve, so do the platforms that they exist on.
With social influencers becoming the face of Instagram, it has become clear that the platform has turned into one big advertisement. Nearly every user who has a significant following continues to post sponsor posts through the app. Yet, this is something that Instagram doesn’t want.
The platform itself does not benefit from these sponsor posts and have made it clear that this new change is attempting to limit the anxiety around posting. In fact, Instagram is hoping that this new change will increase the usage of the app among those who may have been too anxious to post in the past.
What this has for the future? It’s still unclear. While this trial may have many consequences, at least Instagram is doing it with the benefit of their users in mind.