A Likeworthy Trial

It is no secret that the Instagram platform has become increasingly plagued by cases of cyberbullying and anxiety. In an attempt to combat the harmful effects of social media use, the Australian Government introduced new laws that mean companies can be fined for bullying and ‘abhorrent content’ on their platforms following the live stream of a gunman firing on worshippers in Christchurch some months ago; as well as increased punishments for online trolls. In response, Instagram has introduced two new features to combat trolls and bullying and another measure to try shift the focus of the platform from how many ‘likes’ a post receives and back onto the content itself, making the platform feel less competitive.

While it is yet to be seen if this will become a permanent change, the effects on the world of influencer marketing will be fascinating to see. Since the news of the trial’s launch, there have been responses from Instagram influencers ranging from the outraged to the incredibly supportive.

Athlete and influencer Katie Williams was wholeheartedly supportive, sharing the below post to her 42.3k followers (the ‘like’ counter is still visible from the browser version of Instagram). 

Not everyone shares Katie’s enthusiasm, however. Commanding a following of nearly 10 million, Tammy Hembrow shared her dismay with The Daily Mail, allegedly responding to the question “What happens when Instagram gets rid of the likes?” with “Then we’ll delete Instagram from my life!” before climbing into a taxi and adding “F**k Instagram!”.

Hopefully, we will see the results that Instagram is seeking. An online environment that is less hostile, less competitive and more supportive, a safer space to communicate what matters to us. As far as the careers of Instagram’s influencers, analytics for business accounts will not be affected. So for businesses seeking to measure the effectiveness of their social media strategy and influencer investments, nothing will be changing here. 

In light of these changes, the Bento Box team had a chat about what the personal impacts of this change will be on them.

Leeanne Nguyen, Studio Director

Sometimes I deactivate platforms such as Facebook as I get quite anxious and constantly think about whether or not my post has been liked. Why hasn’t anyone liked it yet? Is everyone busy? Was my post silly? I admire Instagram for introducing this ‘no like’ function as we can now freely share images without worrying about the number of likes. It will take some time to get used to it, I must admit!

Josef Herbert, Marketing Assistant

In a world where people now delete posts because they didn’t get enough ‘likes’, I’m hopeful that we’ll all become a little more relaxed with our online presences. I know that ‘likes’ can feel like a form of validation. Why didn’t this get as many as my last? And when a post does well you get a rush from seeing those likes tick in. It’s a drug that isn’t doing anyone any good. 

Tristan Ta, Creative Director

I’m not a big Instagram user. I feel that while there are many that feel a high level of satisfaction and gratification from seeing their posts hit hundreds or even thousands of likes, there is also the other side of the coin to consider. There are a lot of users who do not receive anywhere close to those numbers for their posts and end up feeling discouraged and disheartened from the platform. I feel with this change, Instagram has taken a positive step forward to creating a safer and more approachable online space for all its users. 

Monica Widjajana, Art Director

Instead of using Instagram as a platform where I can freely express myself and share my experiences, I always find myself thinking, what kind of posts would my friends/followers like to see? And when should I upload it to get the optimum number of ‘likes’? Without realising, it has become an unhealthy obsession to collect ‘likes,’ and for everyone on the platform, this new change is definitely going to take the pressure off!

Here’s to a future Instagram that is less competitive where quality content gets valued over a number.