If there’s one question I’ve spent the last 6 months or so actively avoiding it's the “what are your thoughts on the removal of instagram likes?” question. Mostly because I hadn’t really been given enough information to make my mind up properly but secondly and most importantly, a portion of my work is on Instagram and respectfully, I was always taught that you don’t take a sh*t on your own doorstep.
However, last week the announcement finally came that likes were being removed here in the UK. My time was up, there was no more burying my head in the sand. Following many discussions over the last few days I decided to share my two pence and be completely honest.
Not for a second did I believe that the removal of likes was for the benefit or health of Instagram users, I knew there had to be some kind of financial incentive for Facebook to be doing this but cleverly packaging it up in the same way I do when I’m trying to get my husband to agree to some drastically over priced, non essential home improvement. I package it up, make it seem like it was his stellar idea, tell him how amazing he is whilst rubbing my hands with glee having managed to make him think it was his idea to repaint the Utility room for the 3rd time this year. I get what I want, he thinks he’s getting what he wants, everyone's happy but only one person really wins.
In this instance Facebook is Me and Ali, is all of us, except there’s far less of a financial gain for me. This is the control over the platform that Facebook has been trying to gain a hold of since the ‘Influencer’ industry exploded, it's a huge multi-billion corporation, finally taking from the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that operate via its platform.
A cousin of mine recently contacted me via Facebook to ask for advice on working with influencers for his new start up business, it took me a few days to reply as I was out of the country and by the time I had, Instagram likes had been removed for him so he was no longer able to view potential influencers engagement to see who would be the best fit with the most beneficial reach for his first step into online marketing, basically the plan he had been working on went up in smoke in one day. Now I know nothing is definitive here and we don’t know the exact structure of how Instagram will tier engagement access for brands and businesses so I’m hoping there are options for start ups and I end up having to eat my words.
Despite being extremely analytics obsessed, a lot of my growth on YouTube comes from studying data and being immediately responsive to the changes in trends and response to my content, I’ve always had a healthy relationship with Instagram. The only accounts I tend to look in depth at, other than my own tend to be those who are known to have used bots, bought engagement or followers or just generally blagged the system, purely to analyse the fraudulent patterns of their online behaviour such as 5K extra likes in the first 5 minutes and so on a so forth. So I cant say I’ve ever had the presence of visible engagement ever impact my own mental health however I fully acknowledge the impact it has on others, therefore if it helps people who do struggle, well then at least there is some positive to come out from it. Although I do worry that it may be a short term positive and the impact of removal of likes on small businesses could be far greater with greater impact on peoples wellbeing, but now I really am being a Debbie downer. Hopefully I’m wrong again.
For me personally, because of my interest in data and analytics, much like the removal of Social Blade's access to YouTube subcounts in real time. I’m worried about it all, because I’m in a bit of unique situation. If I may give you one hell of a sob story here but having always felt like a bit of an odd one out in the industry, I’ve always felt I’ve had to work doubly hard to earn my seat at the table. For years I felt a little ostracised, perhaps it was all in my head, perhaps it wasn’t, regardless I didn’t let it set me back, instead I decided to work until I couldn’t be ignored. And if I may move from my little sob story to a little bit of a humble brag, my engagement across platforms, in depth data insights, testimonials from clients and unique relationship with my audience set me apart when it felt like I was being he held back .
Thankfully I’ve spread my eggs across my baskets but I wasn’t going to write this and pretend like I thought this was being done for the good of the creators because as we’ve learnt, it quite simply isn’t and I think thats why it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.
So whilst I am fully aware that posting 3+ instagram feed posts per day and living on stories is the best way to see substantial growth on the platform I’m going to continue to use the platform in the way that I currently take the most enjoyment from, posting cute feed posts but showing full sloth on stories, supporting my amazing friends and husband but being sure to give the time to the platforms that I own outright and that I take the most enjoyment from.