Influencer marketing has boomed in popularity because it leverages the dedicated following of social media influencers to reach targeted audiences. Advertisers are estimated to spend $2.3 billion in Instagram influencer marketing in 2020.
Instagram is almost single-handedly responsible for the rise of the influencer, and yet it is now reportedly considering changing the platform in a way that would seriously impact the influencer industry.
According to TechCrunch, the social media giant is testing hiding likes from public view. That’s right – you may no longer be able to see how many likes a picture has received which would put a serious dent in the business model of influencers who use those metrics as leverage to sell posts.
Instagram confirmed the news saying it is testing the feature because it wants “your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get”.
We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.
That’s how Instagram describes a seemingly small design change test with massive potential impact on users’ well-being.
Narcissism, envy spiraling and low self-image can all stem from staring at Like counts. They’re a constant reminder of the status hierarchies that have emerged from social networks. For many users, at some point it stopped being fun and started to feel more like working in the heart mines.
If it goes ahead, likes will still be visible to the person who owns the account though the public will only be able to see a handful of handles that have liked the image. It is believed that the move is in response to growing concerns over the impact the app has on mental health. When asked about the change, Instagram told TechCrunch, “exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about”.
If Instagram rolls out the feature, it could put the emphasis back on sharing art and self-expression, not trying to win some popularity contest. Does this mean the age of the influencer is finally coming to an end? We’re certainly entering unchartered (and very interesting) waters. Watch this space.