Instagram: The New Buzz of “No Likes, No Party”
According to a market research study by IAB, mobile phones are expected to experience the highest growth in advertising investment in 2020. With 40% growth in 2018 ($69.9 billion) and an expected expenditure of $187 billion in 2020, mobile advertising will overtake other channels such as television quite soon. This growth could be the fruit of the fact that there are more smartphones than ever before. According to GDMA, there are now over 5.13 billion people with mobile devices worldwide. Let’s make it easier: 66.53% of people have mobile devices worldwide and 71.5% of American mobile subscribers have a smartphone.
With such a penetration rate, it may come as no surprise that online buying has become increasingly important. People have adapted to this purchasing method, and profiles are also becoming more varied, a trademark of Social Media. Profiles and networks are different, but they have something in common: we love them. Worldwide people now spend an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes per day on social networks and messaging apps.
And we know that Facebook and Instagram users exceed the figure of 50 minutes per day. Quite normal since they are part of the same company and are the most popular social networks. Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users last year: all these users sharing photos, videos, stories, and live videos (even IGTV for longer-form videos). But recently, Instagram has been testing in different countries a new feature: hiding the total number of “likes”. No one will deny how “likes” influence people, particularly the young generation. A wide range of possibilities – products, travel destinations, new celebrities, festivals – are judged by the number of likes.
How far can networks go?
It’s not just about social networks, but also mobile phones. Cell phones are an extension of our arm, a constant in our lives. It is so significant to our lives that there is a new vocabulary word for when we do not have our phone with us. Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia) represents the anxiety of being without a phone, when the battery runs out or when there is no cell phone coverage. How many people feel that their world is coming apart when their cell phone is not in their pocket or purse? This sickness is a result of how important it is to be permanently connected.
Even worse, social media requires us to display to the world what we are doing at any given moment. This activity may seem exhausting, but we fuel it constantly with photos, clicks, and emojis. And what do we see on Instagram? Nice pictures, paradisiac places, expensive outfits, plus the hottest summer hits on Instagram stories… What is life capable of?
“Live my influencer life on Instagram”
This post-everything-you-can landscape has a massive following. 72% of U.S teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Instagram, 69% use Snapchat, and 51% use Facebook. Teens are a big part of the influencers’ target, and ultimately advertising dollars. Influencers are key elements to advertising by being the ambassadors of brands and spreading the right message to the right audience. Will Instagram’s new test be the end of our delightful influencers? The fact of constantly checking the latest posted picture, waiting for more likes, for comments, pressurizes the environment. An environment where teens judge their friends by the number of followers they have. People erase posts because they didn’t get enough likes. Popularity hits hard, especially at this age. According to a recent survey, Instagram has been associated with high levels of depression, bullying or anxiety. Real-life is not what we see on social media sites.
People post what they eat, their holiday destinations, the last items they bought. The mantra of this social network era is “if it’s not on social media it didn’t happen”. But are the 1 billion active users on Instagram that gullible? Can everyone adopt this “influencer life”?
Is this going to be a problem for brands?
Hiding likes might be bad news for influencers, but health experts are sure this will help our mental health. And no one knows more than experts, right? Instagram assured that they want “followers to focus on what you share; not how many likes the post gets”. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets. This eagerness to impress must end, this is not a popularity contest.
Likes were no sale nor conversion indicators. Never. But they helped visibility because of course, they nourished the algorithm. So, without likes, the game rules are going to change.
Like this, Influencer Marketing will give a higher power to agencies, because they could compare the accounts they are controlling. For example, if an agency works with different accounts of influencers or brands, they will see which performs better. Brands will also analyze the performances of their content and improve it according to which works better. Needless to say, brands will not be able to compare themselves against their competitors. Thus, Influencer Marketing will have the role of know-how thanks to the agencies. Agencies will qualify their partnerships with influencers checking other elements on their accounts: they will keep an eye on how many comments they have, or even the tone of the comments. Will brands adopt a control status? Will Instagram have the role of arbiter: maybe brands will ask influencers to show their dashboards in order to check their likes… Who knows?
But what will have the privilege over this issue? Stories. With over 500 million daily active users, stories do not show to others how many likes we get. This proves that the success of a post is not tied to likes and this will result in a massive change in how people will use this social network. So, check the best times to post stories according to your country, and highlight them! Like this, brands will begin to move their interest on other more important metrics like impressions or reach.
This does not mean we will forget about the pictures (common posts), the timeline remains important and we can’t forget about it, even if not everybody sees the likes. Maintaining and improving the timeline will improve the algorithm so viewability rates will increase. The person in charge of the account can see the likes, so he/she can enhance the posts with quality content.
This feature will allow the audience to be more honest with the type of content they are liking. Making them feel more at ease with their actions of leaving a like and not being judged on what they are liking. A teen who hasn’t come out yet will be able to focus on his/her real interests without being bullied. A pregnant woman will be able to check profiles of young mothers without her family and friends knowing her pregnancy. Even unfaithful couples could tap twice on profiles of people wearing bath suits without getting busted. At least, one thing people can be sure of, the fraudulent likes will have no value in terms of engagement. Anyway, this is just a test, but will this new “healthy” environment on Instagram be a real change for the users’ well-being?