Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri recently announced that the platform was testing out hiding likes globally. The company cited the fact that “likes” could be having a negative effect on the mental health of its young users since they are very competitive over likes.
Likes have become the key metric used by brands and influencers alike to measure the reach and influence of posts. This has been a boon for brands, but some have speculated that such a system could be a factor in the rising rate of teen suicides. With a report by Common Sense Media claiming that teens consume media for an average of nine hours per day, it’s not hard to see why social media platforms could be having such an outsized influence.
One key group of people that have opinions about the potential hiding of like is influencers, the groups of people whose livelihoods depend on “likes.” Celebrities such as Nicki Minaj have expressed outrage over the proposed change, while others have taken a more measured approach, even tentatively saying they agree with the change in the name of mental health.
Should Instagram go through with the change, it will represent a sea change in how people interact on the platform. Since their inception, social platforms have changed the way people not only interact online but how people interact in general. Entire industries have been created for people to take photos “for the ‘gram.”
Brands should start to experiment with different methods for measuring engagement such as interaction over time and the number of followers a user may have to measure influence in lieu of likes. The number of comments and reshares can also be used to measure influence.
There is little doubt in the minds of many parents and casual observers, who have noted a disturbing trend among the youth to put too much emphasis on social media, that social media may be having a negative effect on mental health. The smart marketer will embrace this change and understand that there are many more ways to measure engagement should “likes” go the way of the dinosaur.