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Instagram removes likes to improve the mental health of its users...but is that the only motive?

After an initial test in Canada, Instagram have removed the public “like count” you’re used to seeing on your feed as a broader test across Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Instagram have said this is to improve the user experience on the platform, and remove the pressure of posting...but is that the only reason?


It is true, likes have become a source of anxiety for young people - I have friends who have been known to delete pictures because they aren't getting enough likes. Some of you may be thinking - I can’t believe some people think like this - I post when/what I want to post - and if that is you - great!


But I guarantee - the majority of (young) people (and brands) out there, do spend time curating the perfect caption - or considering if they should post a picture on Instagram based on how many likes it will get - so removing this is Instagrams way of trying to improve the experience on the platform, and remove the “pressure” of posting - or so they say.


What does this mean for brands short term?

Across the board there has been a slight drop in engagement - engagement is often driven by a waterfall effect (hence the need to post a certain times) - likes, drive more likes. So with people not being able to see who is liking certain posts, they have been liking less. I do think this will recover once people get used to the change. Instagram remains a great place for brands to create community amongst loyal followers.


What do I think? Likes are very much a vanity metric - so on a personal side - I think it is great - gone are the days of removing photos if they didn’t get double figure likes, and I think soon people will forget about the like count. For brands and influencers - it is a different story, and they will be hit the hardest by this change.


However, I think it is a very strategic move for Instagram - to the general public, they are now a brand that cares about mental health (an increasingly prevalent issue). For brands and influencers there is still a need to see these metrics and analytics - So I see this as an opportunity for Instagram to generate additional revenue from those who need this information. Potentially a paid version of Instagram where brands can access the analytics behind posts (other than their own).


I expect us to see more of a change in the Instagram platform soon - we have already seen they are trying to increase ad revenue with new ad units - stayed tuned!


On a lighter note - I thought I would share some of my favourite memes on the topic -


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Charlotte Fisher 2018