What has happened?
Several months ago, Instagram began testing the removal of “like” counts on Canadian user’s content, hiding the total number of “likes” each post has generated in feeds. On July 18th, this trial expanded to the feeds of users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, expressed the aim of the trial is to reposition the user’s focus of their time from “like” and follower fixation, to expressing themselves and connecting with others via meaningful content.
Instagram indicated the move is in response to a report published by The Royal Society for Public Health, who surveyed almost 1,500 people between the ages of 14-24 who scored social platforms on wellbeing-related issues. The resulting #StatusOfMind report named Instagram as the platform that has the most negative affect on wellbeing.
The Media Store Take
The response from the public and influencer community has been vastly positive,with most welcoming the change to benefit Instagram’s youngest users. Although there are those in the trade press who may speculate this move is an attempt to increase advertising revenue directly with Instagram and reduce the use of influencers; experienced marketers know that the value of an influencer stems from the sales, not the likes, they deliver. It is a positive step for digital platforms to both take responsibility for any harm they may cause and also go on to take active steps to fix it. If this trial succeeds in promoting digital well-being, it seems likely Instagram will roll out this change globally for the long term.