Since news of Instagram testing the removal of like counts hit the web, we knew it’d only be a matter of time before the United States became part of its test market. That day has come, with the popular photo app announcing it will roll out its test of hiding like counts on a global scale.
Back in July we covered how much this news really matters, offering other ways to engage with followers on the platform. And yet, there have been countless articles about how influencers are in danger, worried about losing followers and, therefore, income.
For its version of the news, The Guardian talked to Peter DeLuce, an artist who does much of his business on the social network. “Instagram allowed me to reach a whole new section of people who don’t normally get to see art,” he told the publication. “Likes are a good metric to prove your art is high quality—that there is a validation of your ideas and content. Without likes, recognition in the art world returns to who you know or subjective elitist tastes.”
Many independent jewelry designers—emerging artists and established ones, too—may find that those words ring true, and so those worries are valid, but I think it’s too soon to know how this will affect them. But just to be sure, I reached out to six of our industry’s most successful social media stars. Though many of these industry members have several types of business ventures—retail store owners, designers, bloggers—each does some business on Instagram, and together these six have a combined following of more than 800,000. Who better to get the lowdown on what to expect than from them?
“Here’s the thing—likes don’t matter, whether you can see them or not. Instagram and social media is impactful if you have a conversation with your following. What matters are direct messages and comments,” says Liz Kantner, who wears many hats in this industry, one of which is owner of Stay Gold, a consulting company (and website coming so“There is nothing to worry about. Each user will still be able to see their likes and will be able to report on the success of their postings. I encourage everyone who is stuck with Instagram to start a conversation with the following they have and not worry about likes or follower count. Those things don’t matter, engagement does.”
“I think this will be good for overall stress related to social media performance. You will still have the ability to see your own numbers, which means that you can still analyze your metrics against yourself, which is really all you need to know,” says Stephanie Gottlieb, private jeweler and designer of Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry. “It remains to be seen how this will affect the experience overall—the most important part of Instagram for my business is understanding what my followers like and respond to. If users stop ‘liking’ because they don’t feel that their feedback is being acknowledged, this definitely could have a negative impact for business accounts.”
“In all honesty, I have no idea how this will impact both the user and the creator,” says Danielle Miele, founder of Gem Gossip, a jewelry blog started in 2008—a good two years before Instagram even launched. “Personally, it is the connections I’ve created through using Instagram that bring me the most joy—the comments, the messages, the virtual and real-life friends, the community of jewelry obsessors I interact with on a daily basis—all of those things can never compete with the number of likes. I am glad Instagram is changing things up, and I hope it levels the playing field for new accounts. I will continue to push my creativity and posts as usual, whether likes are shown or not.”
“First, let’s be realistic: This Instagram announcement is just a way to better hide that organic engagement is going to decrease even more than it has in the past year. Removing likes is not a social experiment to make things better. Likes are cool, they are not a problem—trolls harassing you in comments are,” says Severine Ferrari, founder of Engagement 101, an important industry presence that utilizes Instagram heavily (along with its Propose Too initiative) and also thrives as an online resource. “Social media platforms are built on free content provided by users—once they have enough subscribers and content, they become paid platforms for companies and less enjoyable for users.
“What it means for Engagement 101 and all our industry is that we will need to grow ad budgets for Instagram for 2020. The decrease in organic traffic is going to have an impact on everyone’s business. Collaborations are going to be key to keep connecting with an audience or potential clients on Instagram. Advertising directly through Instagram is not as efficient as Facebook or Google if you do it on your own. You still need to come up with great organic content to make the post boosts work.”
“My reaction to the news that Instagram will be doing away with likes was a true rollercoaster of emotion,” says Becky Stone, founder of popular industry blog Diamonds in the Library, which has a large following on the platform. “First I was furious: Why I have I been working so hard to get likes all these years if it’s a concept that can just be eliminated? How dare they? And then my anger gave way, and I felt a huge wave of relief. Without likes, the only thing I have to worry about is producing high-quality content that enriches my brand and helps me forge an ongoing bond with individual followers instead of constantly scrambling to get as many tiny hearts from strangers as possible.”
“In the era of the IG algorithm, likes weren’t doing anything except stressing people out,” continues Stone. “Comments, DMs, saves, follows, and click-throughs are more valuable for both sales and brand recognition. The move away from likes is yet another reason for brands to focus on stellar content and genuine connection over simple numbers. Put your energy toward your content, and let likes go.”
“I have a bittersweet feeling on it,” says the anonymous source behind A Thousand Facets, an Instagram account that champions the work of independent designers. “As I work with artists, when a post does well, I love to see them excited that their work is resonating with the audience! On the other hand, the algorithm has been so unfair to many people (including me) that some of the posts don’t get the attention they deserve and die on the shore. But at the end of the day, when I scroll down, I look at the pictures, not the numbers. Hopefully, it’ll be liberating for people not to feel pressure to fish for likes and instead try to maintain an organic feed.”
I don’t know about you, but if a group of Instagramers this stellar can offer reassurance in the wake of social media–related worry, I think it tells us we’re all going to be okay. After all, this is a test and only a test. And it’s also a reminder that adaptation in any industry is necessary—we don’t really expect Instagram to last forever, do we?
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