So Instagram is going to be removing likes — what does that mean for your account?

On July 17, 2019, Instagram tweeted saying, “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who’ve liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.”

instagram removing likes

Now, this new change got me thinking about the pros and cons and how it would affect every user on Instagram from the casual user to the big brands/businesses. I wondered what could come about because of this update — and how this update could possibly change a generation?

Let’s start with the influencers and businesses.

Influencers and businesses

Many users or “influencers” rely on the amount of likes they receive in order to receive brand deals.

According to a study by InfluencerDB in 2019, more than 500,000 active influencers are operating just on Instagram. That equates to 39% of Instagram accounts with more than 15,000 followers and 81% having followings between 15,000 and 100,000 users.

instagram removing likes
With the removal of likes, this could affect the bench mark or competition between influencers. Likes function as a “social proof” among fellow Instagrammers.

What is social proof?

Social proof is the concept that people will follow the actions of the majority. The idea is that since so many other people are behaving/acting in a certain way, then it must be the correct behavior/action.

For example, if a photo of a rose in a swimming pool receives a ton of likes, then it must be a good photo and I should like it too (I’m not saying this is a bad photo):

instagram removing likes
Courtesy of @knowthismind

Yes, I guess you could argue that followers also play a role in social proof and that will remain the same, however, it is easy to buy followers. I’m sure we have all seen those accounts with thousands of followers, yet they only receive a few hundred likes.

Not only could the removal of likes affect influencers, but it could also affect big brands/businesses. We have seen big brands blow up due to Instagram’s social “shareability” aspect.

With the removal of likes, it may lead to businesses posting less content that is designed to gather “likes.”

If “likes” no longer matter, businesses may start posting more advertorial content that is meant to drive conversions and leads opposed to gathering “likes.” Because if nobody could see the “likes” then why would they post content that has the intention of baiting “likes.”

This then plays into the question of how the Instagram algorithm will be affected — if at all.

We may see a change in the type of content influencers and businesses post, however, the removal of “likes” will no doubt affect the posting decisions of these individuals/organizations.

There will no longer be any social proof that they need to worry about acquiring other than followers.

Casual Instagrammers

I believe the casual Instagrammer (anybody who uses Instagram for fun/their own leisure to connect with friends/family, follow cool brands, look at memes, etc.) will be affected the most — in a positive way.

Numerous studies have been released that show that feedback and “likes” on a post can boost people’s self esteem, however at the same time, also bring their self esteem down if they do not get as many likes as others.

According to a UK Snapshot Survey posted by the BBC, Instagram is rated as the worst social media platform when it comes to its impact on young people’s mental health.

The RSPH report states that many young people feel inadequacy and anxiety due to these social media platforms and their ability to create a false sense of social hierarchy — meaning if you get less likes than a certain person, then that person is “more popular” or “better” than you.

instagram removing likes

With the idea of removing likes from Instagram — Instagram sent out these tweets:

instagram removing likes

I personally believe the removal of likes will benefit a generation that is caught up in living in other people’s highlight reels. The removal of likes will free up that pressure so many young people have regarding social media and “social status.”

I believe Instagram’s decision to remove likes has the ability to change a future generation and how they view themselves and interact with one another.

Yes — we are all a bit narcissistic, myself included. It’s human nature. However, individuals will no longer feel like they have to do something “for the gram,” and they could focus on what is more important in life such as building real, deep, human connections with other individuals.

Instagram put it best

Why is Instagram doing this? “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”

Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think will come about with the removal of “likes” from Instagram!