The Number Game

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Instagram is soon going to stop showing how many people have ‘liked’ some of its users’ posts. This might affect the careers of social media influencers

We live in strange times where everything do — eat, shop, travel — is influenced by social media, especially Instagram where every other post is promoting a product or a service. This is has given rise to a new breed of celebrities — Instagrammers/ Instagram influencers, who tend to influence and impact the way we go about making choices in our day-to-day lives. 

Over the last one year, there has been a massive surge in the number of social media influencers leading to a crowd of such ‘celebrities’ who often do not have genuine followers. To be  ahead of the number game, many influencers have even resorted to buying followers. However, brands, often tend to overlook the mechanism, and all that they are concerned about it is the number of followers, likes and comments on Instagram  posts. 

There is another side to the story as well — Instagrammers whose posts don’t get an equal number of likes when compared to their friends or colleagues’ posts feel depressed and low.   

To make the platform a healthy place, Instagram is soon going to stop showing how many people have ‘liked’ some of its users’ posts. This major change will allow people to focus on the posts being shared rather than how much engagement they have gathered. Initially, the feature will be launched with some users in Canada. But it could eventually roll out to all users, leaving them unable to see how many ‘likes’ their posts garner. 

People will still be able to see when someone ‘likes’ their posts, and clicking through will show everyone who has done so. But the only way to find out would be to manually count them, since Instagram will no longer show the big number next to the post.

Many influencers and others who are paid to post on Instagram use the ‘like’ metric as an important way of understanding how popular and engaging a post is. Those numbers can then affect how much brands will pay them to post, making ‘likes’ an important number for those users. 

Instagram said it was aware that hiding the ‘likes’ could therefore be financially difficult for many Instagram users. It told Techcrunch it was ‘thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners’ and that the idea was still in its ‘exploratory’ stages.

Social media influencers tell us how it will impact them 

In my opinion, the decision of Instagram to stop showing ‘likes’ on the post is quite sensible. It might be disappointment for some but contentment for many. The idea is to focus on the content rather than engagements. In the world of ‘number game’, we have somehow forgotten to appreciate the efforts gone behind the posts. We forget this is not reality and start comparing our lives with the count of engagements.
People will now focus towards building a fantastic feed rather than exhausting themselves about the ‘likes’ and comparing them with others. Though, this will decline the monetary benefits to the influencers, but the motivation will be intact for those who are doing it for  passion. More creative stuff will be seen when you are not bothered about the ‘likes’. 

Megha Chhatbar, city-based blogger and artist, who blogs at FitFoodieMegha.com

I think it’s a great move by Instagram to be like they say, ‘a healthy app’. But it will be beneficial only for the regular audience. I think the moment you turn your profile into a business profile or a content creator profile, Instagram will anyway give more insights about your engagement and other critical elements which are required to not only self analyse but also for the clients who sponsor the posts. I have a personal profile too and I really don’t care how many ‘likes’ I’m getting on those posts but when it comes to my professional account every ‘like’ is an asset and I cannot let go of that number.

Surya Sharma, city-based blogger and influencer, who blogs at Foodiepreneur 

Being an influencer is more than the number of ‘likes’. It’s about the impact you have directly or indirectly on the choices your followers make because you impacted that decision somehow. ‘
I think this would be a great experiment where it’s not about the number of ‘likes’ but just sharing and saying what you feel like and putting it out there. It will be interesting to see how the experiment fares and how the grammers react to this change.  
However ‘likes’ is only one parameter, other insights for Instagram posts like comments, saves, shares and impressions are also instruments that help in knowing the arithmetic. 

Aiana Dhillon, blogger and style coach, Mumbai 

I think it is both good and bad news. It’s going to help people who suffer from mental illness  because of the number game, but it is definitely going to bring in a crunch on influencers’ marketing. On Instagram, numbers decide and categorises the payment and an influencer’s level in the industry ( which strongly differs from brand to brand). It’s going to be tough for the Instagram business. 
On the brighter side, it might bring in some healthier way to evaluate the influencers and motivate people to not manipulate their numbers.
I have worked in an influencer marketing agency and I am also an influencer myself. I have seen both the sides. Numbers is the basis of influencer marketing. It’s a chain, it will decide who performed how and henceforth, that influencer will be ranked in the top categories based on the engagement  on his/her posts. But, when the numbers are hidden how will one evaluate their own performance?
Anupa Sahu, blogger, YouTuber and Instagram influencer, who blogs at anupa_anunomics

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