The Instagram Likes Debate // Leopard Midi Skirt + Beige Sweater
Okay, I’m officially jumping into the conversation because this whole Instagram likes debate is too good not to discuss. In case you haven’t seen, Instagram will soon be testing an update where a user’s likes are hidden from the public and people are FREAKING out. The funny part though is that almost everyone I talk to or see posting about in on social can’t figure out if it will be a positive or negative change. Even me, who has started to loathe Instagram because of the pressure to gain likes, cannot decide if I’m excited or dreading the update. Here’s why.
At first, the new update sounds like a dream come true. It’s no secret, I’ve been struggling with low engagement for some time now and aside from being disheartening, it can almost be embarrassing to barely get any likes on a photo you post of yourself, regardless if you’re a blogger. Because whether or not we like to admit it, many of us equate our self worth to the amount of likes any given photo receives. I’m definitely guilty of feeling down or even downright inadequate when a picture I spent hours editing can’t even reach 600 likes, so in terms of the mental health aspects of the argument, I am all for hiding likes!
But then there’s the flipside. When a photo does perform well, I’m more than happy for that number to be public. It’s an actual rush to see the likes go up and complete and total validation of your work. So for the users who naturally receive high engagement, I would never want to take that away from them or myself (if I can get there one day). It’s also an important metric for brands to see and hiding it from them would affect sponsored content as we know it. Rumor has it users will still be able to see their own analytics, but as nothing would be public, brand partnerships would become more difficult to justify and measure.
Another major pro is that users will feel more comfortable posting the photos they love, rather than just posting the ones they feel will get the best engagement. This would particularly change the way I post about my travels. Whenever I’m in a new city, I snap away at the architecture, but I’ve never shared those photos because of the fear that my followers won’t appreciate the images as much as I do. Take away the likes and who cares if the photo doesn’t perform well? Removing likes may also motivate people to comment on images, promoting more stronger, authentic connections.
Going back to the cons though, not showing likes may bring down the overall quality of content on Instagram since there will be less pressure and competition. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing since I would not mind ditching the DSLR and going full force with my iPhone, but I do believe healthy competition is important in the influencer space in order to encourage creativity and thinking outside the box.
At the end of the day, while I think it sounds great for Instagram to try and protect our mental health, I don’t think it’s their responsibility, nor do I want them to get involved. I think it’s up to each individual person to find a balance on the platform and learn how to keep his or her self-esteem in check because there will always be another feature that makes us feel bad and the cycle will never end. Every year, our generation seems to get more and more sensitive, but it’s time to learn that not everything in life is a personal attack, especially not likes on Instagram.
Here are some of your thoughts that came through my DMs:
“I think it will affect some influencers, but give others more opportunity.”
“You’ll be able to refocus on the pictures and not the number of likes, but it will be hard at the same time to judge what your audience wants to see.”
“Will this take away from influencers?”
“I personally follow influencers based on inspo and not the amount of followers/likes they have.”
“Can’t decide, but excited to see the update roll out.”
“I think it’s great!”
As always, let me know what you think in the comments below!