Instagram Rule Changes Effect Brand Building
Instagram will be rolling out a major shift in how users engage with each other by hiding the ‘like’ counts on posts. They have already tested making ‘likes’ private in seven other countries and now this change will be starting to take effect in the US this month. Instead of a number of total ‘likes’, there will be a mention of who likes it “and others.”
The company has stated that its intention is to help “depressurize” the social media platform. It’s the equivalent of removing grades in school and rather than assigning a letter grade for a student’s performance, the teacher just writes “good job” at the top of the test.
But will this actually “depressurize” social media? No, and this is why.
- It all still “counts.” Although there will no longer be a counter for ‘likes,’ there is still a counter for total followers and comments. So, it’s still a popularity contest and everyone can see who is winning. This is especially brutal for kids who take a large percentage of their self-worth, unfortunately, from their social media account. If Instagram, and their parent company Facebook, really wanted to create a healthier environment they would remove all counts – but that would dramatically decrease the pressure to share, decrease engagement, and it would impact their revenue. As long as there is any tracking of the numbers visible to the public, these social media accounts will still be a scorecard of life that kids (and businesses) use to judge themselves and others.
- FOMO isn’t just about the number. The negative psychological impact produced by social media only starts with the count on ‘likes’ and really escalates when it gets to the Fear of Missing Out. Everyone that is living their best life on Instagram by posting photos of their perfect body (with well-edited photos), dream vacations, and totally rad slumber parties is creating a culture of anxiety, sadness, and depression for the people who see those posts and instantly feel ‘less than.’ Hiding the ‘like’ count won’t fix this.
- The algorithm still knows who is the most popular. Even without a visible ‘like’ count, the app’s algorithm will still know who is getting the most traffic and love and put them on the top of the feed. This will be a clear indicator, even without a number, as to who is winning.
I would love to see social media apps make real changes that remove the social pressure and make the experience healthier for everyone, especially kids, but this feels like an attempt to pacify the press and their shareholders.
However, from a business perspective, maybe using metrics such as likes, followers, comments, and shares isn’t so bad. Because the personal “self-worth” aspect is taken out of the mix when it comes to business social media counts, these analytics can be a powerful tool to use for growth, improvement, and learning best practices for your business on social media. The trick now is learning how to change the conversation to focus on the positive potential outcomes and optimize these tools for success, rather than seeing them strictly as a negative. In our Plan 2020 Brand Builder Workshop on December 6th, we’ll dive into how to best utilize social media in the upcoming year, along with getting a comprehensive marketing plan set for the new year, including assessment of current situation, outlining marketing goals, determining investments and budget, setting a timeline, identifying gaps in marketing, boosting reach & engagement, and creating an action plan for their business for the year. Visit http://bit.ly/BrandBuilders2020PlanDec6 for more information or to register.
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RUSSO is a strategic branding agency that uses consumer insight to change the conversation; forming emotional connections with the target audience. To learn more, click HERE to learn more about our process, RAZOR BRANDING.