13.Jan.2020

Michiko Gupta
Senior Digital Strategist

Why Should You Like Instagram’s New Policy?

TAKING PRESSURE OFF TEENS AND GEN Z USERS

Instagram has been experimenting with hiding “likes” on its platform in recent months, and it has gradually started to roll out this feature in the United States. Removing something that has been so critical to Instagram’s success is a BIG deal — and there has been a lot of conversation buzzing about it since the announcement.

Why is Instagram doing this?

It’s trying to become the safest social media space on the internet— especially for teens and members of Generation Z—says Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri. By dropping the total number of “likes,” Mosseri hopes to “depressurize” the platform to make it less competitive and more welcoming.

Watch Mosseri discuss the new policy at a November tech forum.

A BOLD MOVE

As a digital strategist, I’ve seen the good that social media can do. I’ve also seen the bad. So anything that tech companies can do to ramp up the good and tamp down the bad is a bold and positive move.

To be clear, you’ll still be able to see “likes” on the back-end, but they won’t be visible to everyone. Therefore, it should remain an important part of the engagement metrics such as comments and video views to better understand what content resonates best with your audience.

HIGHER ED IMPLICATIONS

As higher ed communicators with a primary target audience comprised of teens and Gen-Zs, what does it mean for them?
I spoke with two higher ed communicators—Lawerence Synett, director of social media at Carnegie Mellon University; and Priscilla Morales, a digital communications specialist at the University of Pittsburgh—to hear what they think about the new policy.

Synett: Research has shown that teens evaluate their self-worth through vanity metrics such as “likes,” as well as comments (or lack-there-of) from followers. Now, is this particular move going to completely solve the problem of social gratification through posts on social media? No, but it is a step in the right direction.

Morales: Instagram is just one of the many tools we use to help move students through the admissions funnel, and we know that “likes” alone aren’t enough. We’re focused on more meaningful interactions. That said, I think the new policy is a good thing for the younger generations who constantly focus on social comparison.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

Both communicators said connecting and actually engaging with followers is much more important than collecting “likes.”

Synett: Our Carnegie Mellon audience is unique—it’s a mix of arts and science, and everything in between—which is a source of pride for our community. It’s our responsibility to move beyond “likes” and engage with our audience, to always provide opportunities for them to interact across all our digital channels. That’s the reason social media exists.

Morales: People come to Instagram or our other platforms to see what it’s like to be a student at Pitt, not to count how many “likes” we have. We’re different than a fast food chain or retail store, where “likes” can be a helpful metric because the commitment level is much lower. A prospective student needs to make a much deeper connection with a college or university brand.

What are your thoughts? Has your organization been impacted by the change? Let me know at mgupta@lipmanhearne.com.