Instagram is changing, should influencers?
Instagram announced that they were going to be removing likes, huge. They first tested this update with a select group of users in Canada, and then the whole of Canada. Today, they announced that they are going to be testing this feature in 6 more countries – two of those, Australia and Brazil, rank among the top ten countries for Instagram users and influencers.
Likes are often, and have been for a while, a fundamental aspect to Instagram, their users, influencers, and of course for companies who use the platform for marketing. Now, without likes, there lies a deeper discussion that is focused more towards the users opposed to the brands. We have seen a huge decline in the engagement rate on influencer posts and on Instagram in general. Steven Bartlett, founder of The Social Chain, recently posted on LinkedIn about a number of factors that could be causing this decline.
He touches on one of the points that is similar to the theme of this post, and that is: People are becoming wary of spending too much time on their phones. 21% of people worldwide have used their phone to track their screen time or set times limits for certain apps.
So, what does no likes actually mean?
No more “like” addiction – Yay
Likes are not only a way to show user engagement, but they also give a lot of people a sense of instant gratification, a scary gratification that doesn’t last very long – one that let’s you feel good about yourself, until you see a post by someone who you think is better than you because they have more likes. It’s a scary addiction.
Instagram is fundamentally based on the aspect of being creative. The logo is even a camera. The removal of likes, in my opinion, is a massive leap in the right direction to A) get the creative juices flowing and B) to open the doors to actual influence. People can no longer be addicted too likes and brands and influencers will have to get far more creative, as well as doing proper influencing, to stay relevant.
There have been numerous posts around the mental health aspect to Instagram and the Influencer Culture, giving people the false perception of how they should look, feel, what they should wear, where they should travel, and the false pretence of success. Time Magazine had a piece that struck the nail on the head, Why Instagram is the worst social media for mental health, and some of my views and opinions aligned with what it said:
Social media posts can also set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, the authors wrote. This may explain why Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety. As one survey respondent wrote, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’.”
There was also an article that was posted on the Guardian in 2018 (not my fav news source) that covered why is Instagram making people feel so miserable? A lot of similar content that has been shared over the years around Instagram – it let’s people set unrealistic expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met, they feel depressed, self-loathing, and they are constantly seeing content that makes them feel this way.
Another article, posted by Vice in 2017, around the same topic – How Instagram makes you basic, boring, and completely deranged – which touches on how Instagram makes simple and daily tasks, seem absolutely incredible in some peoples lives compared to yours (ie, when someone gets 100k likes on a piece of burnt toast with a generous portion of avocado.)
After doing some research around the mental health of Instagram, I came across a short video that summed a lot of this up:
So, where do we go from here in terms of influencing? Because, in my opinion, influencers aren’t going anywhere – but to still be relevant, they need to evolve, and I don’t think a lot of them know how to evolve into the correct type of influencer for the way in which the world is going, as well as just being a good influence to people who follow them. People who post breakfast, unattainable goals, memes, and posts that don’t actually give you any sense of “good vibes” after you have viewed the photo – are going to crumble. If you like an image of someone standing on a Ferrari, in front of a private jet (likely all rented), and popping champagne – and then feel good afterwards, then great, but if you don’t, then you are part of the large majority who need this update.
I’m not saying unfollow all your meme pages, body goals, and food blogs. Because some of them are amazing, and do post incredible content, but there is a change happening.
But, never forget how a bunch of Influencers got it so wrong at Chernobyl….
This leads me to my next point.
Is it the end of influencer marketing, or the start of something new?
No, I don’t think it is the end of influencers, but I do think it’s the ending of a certain type of influencer. The way that young people are going, we are becoming more aware of mental health, the environment, and self awareness and acceptance. Influencers, or people and brands, with a large number of following – or ones who are “micro-influencers” – have a pivotal role to play in people and their everyday life, especially ones who have a large impact when it comes to influence.
Influencers need to start becoming influential in a positive aspect, and start to use their platforms for good, and not for narcism, or self gain. We are going to see a shift, and a needed shift, where people start being more creative, more positive, and more educated.
There are thousands of accounts out there that focus on this – and some of them are extremely powerful, and share brilliant opinions, ideas, and tips. Accounts that focus on mental health, food health, the environment, and of course design and creativity, are going thrive.
Accounts that have that “feel good” factor
Some of my favourite accounts for mental health, that I think are setting a trend for the future, are the following:
And then literally ANY account that has @natgeo, that features animals, photography, creativity (Behance and Adobe have incredible pages) or food that you enjoy – cake, pizza, burgers, healthy food, vegan food, milkshakes etc.
Anyway, that’s me done. First blog. Let me know what you think about the changes happening in the influencer game.