Eliminating Instagram Ego

What do you do when your favorite social media channel decides to take away your consistent ego boost? Or, from a professional standpoint, what about the rudimentary metric that is supposed to define whether or not you are managing the company’s social media presence correctly?

I love Instagram. A lot has changed with the platform since this photo was taken in 2012 (much more than just my uploaded images count).

You freak out, right?

Whispered about for a long time now, Instagram is finally taking steps to possibly completely eliminate the external indicator of how many “likes” an image receives. Instagram vloggers won’t be spared –– the video view count will also be a casualty. The social media giant has now started testing a no  likes/views platform in seven different countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand). Yikes, I feel bad for the proud puppy owners and body builders in those places!

Recently, Instagram announced that it in several countries it is testing its service without revealing “likes” to followers.

When I first heard about the development, I wasn’t too thrilled. As I mentioned, the number of “likes” (I will stop with the quotation marks from here on out) is the most basic of analytics. Although it can be overblown, the like count of an image is an important big picture summary of how a piece of content performed. Although any social media professional worth a darn will look at more complex analytics to truly evaluate a piece of content, we are lying if we tell you that we don’t look at likes.

This is what it looks like when you can’t see the “likes” on a photo. Caption and comments are still there but not a like count.

I was bummed by the news from a personal angle as well. I think people who post important or good content, no matter how trivial or superficial the act is, should be rewarded by the collective tapping of hearts by their peers.

But, like with many “major” social media changes, the rollout isn’t always as devastating as the rumor. If you caught it earlier, Instagram is taking away the external indicator of likes/views. That means your ex won’t be able to see how many people are liking your posts, but you still will be able to.

Don’t lose all hope. Even though your followers won’t be able to see your photo likes, you will still be able to.

This is a compromise I can deal with.

When pressed, I will say that people and brands deserve to flaunt the likes they receive for all to see. There is no debating it, there is a feeling of importance and victory that comes with a popular image, and, like I have already said, I don’t have a problem with people being rewarded for building an audience and delivering good content.

But I understand the other side as well. Removing “likes” (sorry, have to go back to the quotation marks––they just provide clarity) from public view will make many people feel more comfortable and empowered to use social media, because let’s face it: getting a lot of likes feels good, but not getting a lot can feel bad. I know this might seem like fostering a culture where everyone gets a trophy (or, perhaps, where no one get a trophy?), but I think this is one case where we can err on the side of appeasing the emotional well-being of others.

From my professional social media director perspective, I can’t get too bent out of shape about it. I will still have full knowledge of the “likes” our content is generating, which is pretty much all I can really ask for. If anything, the change might decrease the pressure of my job. Although I truly do love the competition/challenge, I won’t feel like the campus community and/or other universities are scrutinizing the performance of every post that goes up.

In the end, my thoughts on this might not even matter. Instagram is just testing this out. However, if the “like” count does disappear one day, I won’t be surprised and my self-esteem won’t be shattered. Don’t Blink.