Whether you’re pro or against Instagram removing public likes, you may have landed on this question as the social platform began rolling out the design tweak in the U.S. this month: what will happen to the influencers? How will brands know which accounts to work with? If a tree falls in the forest, but no one “likes” it, did it even happen?
Well, we thought the same thing. So we caught up with Hortencia Caires, a Dallas- and New York-based influencer behind @StyleFeen, an account which has garnered over 100,000 followers, features sponsored posts with brands like Maybeline, and is peppered with selfies of Caires’ incredibly enviable Brazilian curls. She spoke to us what this change could mean for brands, her mental health, and influencers at large.
What role do Instagram likes play in your business as an influencer?
Likes on Instagram showcase engagement. Obviously the more likes, the better it looks for a brand when they’re vetting influencers for sponsored content. However, that’s slowly changing. Brands are looking at reach and impressions now.
What does an Instagram like mean to you?
An Instagram like indicates to me that my post is favorable. That my followers are enjoying my content and that I’m doing a good job. However, we do have to factor in that sometimes it’s not always our fault. Instagram‘s algorithm sometimes can be very unforgiving. But this doesn’t always mean that when your photo doesn’t do well, it was Instagram‘s fault. This also could mean that you need to improve.
How do you feel about Instagram’s decision to test “private likes” and possibly do away with them all together?
I’m not going to lie, when my post doesn’t get a specific average amount of likes, I definitely let it ruin my mood. Removing likes doesn’t really change anything for me. I do believe Instagram is doing this as a business move. I highly doubt Instagram cares about your mental health because, at the end of the day, you can still see your own likes. And as per my research, countries that have already been hit with the no likes feature have noticed a drop in likes overall. As an influencer, this hopefully should not affect you getting paid work. Brands have backend data to let them know influencers engagement and impressions.
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Have there been times where Instagram likes have positively or negatively impacted your mental health?
Instagram definitely makes me play the comparison game. However, I always take a step back and ask myself, “How am I using this app?” If I keep scrolling and comparing or being envious of others, I try to step back and close the app for a few hours. Instagram is a tool, you should be using it to help you. The second that you use it and it starts to make you feel less than, it’s time to take a break.
How do you see this change impacting influencers in general?
I’m not too sure. I’m hoping brands don’t just look at the follower count and start working with influencers. I hope that they are smarter than that. Brands have a responsibility of knowing back-end data and making sure that each influencer they are working with has verified reach. If you are being honest and not buying likes and followers, there shouldn’t be an issue for you moving forward.
Do you have a plan ready to go if Instagram decides to test the feature on you or pulls the plug on likes all together?
No plan. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and hope for the best!
Would you consider leaving Instagram if they permanently remove the likes?