By Morgan Mathews, Account Executive
For years, Instagram has been growing in popularity with everyone, from influencers and celebrities to the average individual. Posts on Instagram range from selfies or travel pictures to branded content and sponsored posts. As the platform continues to grow, so does the concern about mental health and the effect of social media on younger generations. Because of the increasing health concerns and attention towards the effects of social networking apps, Instagram hopes to combat the negative effects its app could have on users. In early 2019, Instagram implemented a plan to create a feature that hides the number of likes you receive on a post. The only person who can view the number of likes is the individual who posted the content. Instagram rolled out the program in a select group of countries to test the user's responses to the feature. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand were the first countries to have the feature placed on the app. In a statement, Instagram said the new feature, "focus[es] on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes you get" (Leskin). For most users, this change comes at a time of debate over the mental health of young users as young as 10-14-year old's. One group that has come to resist the new change is the influencer community.
Influencers have started to speak out against the platforms' changes and how it is affecting overall user engagement with posts. Engagement includes the number of likes and comments someone receives on a post. Some influencers started to voice concern for the impact the feature will have on their business. The feature could potentially stagnate the growth influencers could see on the app. With this in mind, "over 50% of surveyed influencers have seen the growth of their follower counts slowed" (Leskin). Because of the new feature, influencers are seeing direct impacts on their posts and business. Business Insider spoke with influencers to determine the impact they are seeing because of the new feature. Mike Blake-Crawford, Social Chain's strategy director, does not seem worried about the effect the feature will have on his agency's influencers. He said, "metrics like engagement and click-throughs of URLs in posts show more about the relationship an influencer has with their audience" (Leskin). The real test for influencers will be their ability to connect with their audiences and work with the platform to continue to shape their businesses. At the end of the day, Instagram will have to assess if the feature will ultimately make users happier. Influencers will wait to determine the full effect of the feature on their businesses and the ability to connect with larger audiences.