News hit the stands last week that Instagram updates will be trialled in Canada, which will see the app hiding the photos likes and video views of other users.
Everyone has been talking about it (by everyone I mean every Influencer I follow). What people might have not heard, is that this is just one of three Instagram updates that are possibly on their way to the social media app.
On April 30th, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said: “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”
The second Instagram update currently in the development stages is a redesign of profiles that have less emphasis on follower counts (unlike current profiles where it sits top and centre, beaming out at you on arrival). You can see this now if you go onto an Instagram account from a web browser, but only on your phone not on a computer.
The immediate reaction was quite negative. However I think the discussion that happened across the app made a lot of people start to think it is all a really good idea, myself included. Here’s why…
Creativity trumps numbers
I honestly believe that this will prevent the repetitive content we’ve been seeing over the last two years. A prime example of this in the UK was at Christmas when every single Influencer and their mates flooded to Oxford Street to take a photos in the middle of the road underneath the Christmas lights. In case you were living under a rock or don’t entertain the influencer bubble and didn’t see it, a pavement separating the sides of the road made it safe for shooting. You can see pics of it, and other popular London spots, here.
The decorations and the perfect symmetry of the shot was undeniably aesthetically pleasing, but Christmas was still a long way off when I became sick of seeing the same shot over and over again.
I believe the American equivalent was to stand in the road in front of the Cartier store at the corner of 52nd street and Fifth Avenue.
While I don’t think removing likes will prevent people from copying or taking inspiration from others, I do think it will decrease and when it does happen it will be because of genuine creative inspiration rather than engagement hunting photography. Similarly, it will force PRs and companies to look for accounts they genuinely love, rather than look for the best statistics.
I’ve also heard of PRs asking influencers to pretty much replicate a photo, rather than do it in their own style, so hopefully this will give way to PRs wanting and allowing a little more creativity.
Instagram isn’t just for influencers
I have two Instagram accounts. I have my ‘influencer/blogger’ account where I obsess over my engagement, prowl through the photos of others in my industry and lament how much better their accounts are, all while obsessing over my following.
I also have a personal account for friends and family where I post any photos, regardless of quality, and idgaf about likes and followers. It is a breath of fresh air, but not how most people approach the app outside of being an influencer.
I have had conversations with friends who discuss the likes they get on photos of themselves they post over the weekend, or WhatsApp conversations where friends moan that they really liked their photo but it didn’t get a lot of likes.
The engagement doesn’t need to matter to them, but in an egocentric, competitive world Instagram allows us to easily compare ourselves to others, however meaningless the comparison.
So to remove the possibility of comparison and measurement it will allow normal, everyday users to enjoy the app a little more and hopefully make the experience on social media less detrimental to mental health.
Expectations and measurements of worth might change
Many people believe that users will click ‘like’ less. PRs and companies will undoubtedly still ask for screenshots of influencers’ posts so they know the level of engagement, but even if the likes drop they can still see the impressions and the reach.
Yes it might be a bump in the road at first, but if likes go down across the whole app then the entire process will need to readjust and I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Think of all the haters who look at your photos but don’t like them, they will have a great effect on your engagement now!
The next generation
It makes little difference to most of us reading this. Whether you are a normal, social user or a business or an influencer, by now you probably have a rough idea of what is a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ amount of likes for your own account.
However for future generations hopefully they will care less (although comparisons between friends will likely prevail). Hopefully this will kill off ‘l4l’ and ‘f4f’ that is becoming increasingly common in younger users.
I also hope, and this may be a little farfetched, that it will slow down the sexualisation of Instagram posts. I know my travel photos do better if I’m in a bikini with my full body in view. If the younger generation clock onto this then woe to the world, as young children and adults reveal more and more in the name of likes.
The third Instagram update to know about: Instagram Creator Accounts
So the first was hiding likes and video views, the second was deemphasising follower counts and the third and final change in the works is the development of Creative Accounts.
Until recently you could only have a normal account or a business account. For the latter, you need a Facebook page (not profile) to link it to. This allows the user or company to see all sorts of additional engagement statistics covering your content, activity and your audience.
Instagram is currently testing out Creator Accounts. The savvy site influencermarketinghub.com, explain what this offers:
- Growth insights such as data around follows and unfollows
- Direct messaging tools that allow users to filter notes from relevant people, e.g., they can filter notes from brand partners and friends. Creators will be able to rank their pending requests by relevance or time to make sure they don’t miss important requests.
- Flexible labels that allow users to designate their preferred method of contact
Growth insights will “include statistics relating to daily and weekly changes in their follower numbers. This works across all parts of Instagram – their traditional feed, Stories, and even the new IGTV. This makes it easier for influencers to spot any spikes or troughs in their following, and help them understand the reason for any changes.”
For brands, this will hopefully give more clarity into the genuine engagement and genuine activity of an influencer, so will allow for better collaboration choices.
However at the moment Influencers who are able to make the switch have faced some issues with being able to comment on things, not sure why. I haven’t made the change myself, I’m just observing for the time being.
So, after Instagram well and truly f**ked most of us over with all the algorithm changes, maybe they’re finally on our side. We’ll see…
If you want to read more on this then Andrea Chung has a great post. Read it here.
What are your thoughts on these three possible Instagram updates?