Is This the Death of Influencers As We Know It?

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 19 Jul 2019

For all Instagram lovers in Australia, it’s time to say goodbye to your likes. What does this change mean for the platform, and how will it affect retailers’ marketing strategies?

On July 18th, Instagram began testing the removal of likes and views in seven different countries, including Australia. Causing outrage across the countries, users are now more confused than ever when it comes to the social media platform. What does this mean for influencers, brands and other users?

In a statement by Instagram, the platform will be testing out the concept throughout Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Canada and Brazil. “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,” the statement read. “We’re looking forward to learning more about how this change might benefit everyone’s experience on Instagram.”

So, How Does This Affect Retailers?

Although this is a huge step for the brand, it’s still only in trial stages, so there’s no real need to panic just yet. However, this has already played a huge hit to those who rely on Instagram likes, comments and views for an income, such as influencers. Those who have made a living off the social media platform may not be able to provide the same content that they used to, as their motivation begins to drop. Perth influencer, Jem Wolfie, who has more than 2.7 million Instagram followers, noted that this may be the downfall of her business. “They said they’re doing it to take the competition out of posting – I’m not in competition with anyone on Instagram, I’m here to run a business. They’re taking a tool away that’s really important for us,” she said.

From a personal perspective, this could be seen as a good thing. Users that post a pic on the ‘Gram wait anxiously for the first batch of likes to come through, which releases a heavy dose of dopamine to the system. Removing this feature can help users focus on the content and not the number of likes that each post receives. However, from a business point of view, is this causing more damage than it’s worth? According to studies, more than 25 million brands have an Instagram account and rely on the engagement rates of their own and others in order to grow and succeed. Following Instagram’s announcement, thousands of angry users, influencers and brand executives made it clear that they didn’t support the change. “This is damaging for so many creators,” said author, Sasha Alsberg. “This would only benefit regular users but it would not be beneficial for businesses or people who actually make money on Instagram,” said another. Of course, many have noted their praise for the change, as it allows users to pay closer attention to the content that’s posted, rather than feel dictated to follow those who are popular.

Is This the Beginning of the End?

Of course, brands and influencers can still rely on the analytics provided by the platform, which offers engagement rates, post likes and shares. Although you won’t be able to compare the engagement rates from other creators, brands and influencers alike, that’s the entire premise behind Instagram’s change in design.

Will this change become permanent amongst Instagram users? Is this the beginning of the end for influencers, small brands and Instagram? If the platform decides to pull the plug on all likes and views, it may just be. However, another option for the giant is to create an option for users to select whether they prefer to have the likes or not. Whatever the outcome, this may be a fair and even playing field for all social media users out there. This may also mean that brands will have to start pushing the focus away from social media and back to traditional methods, until something else shows up, of course.

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