Just short of a month ago Lush announced their retirement from social media. ‘Tired of fighting algorithms’ Lush abandoned their large community platform to inspire more conversations with their customers without having to pay to be heard.
Considering Lush is a very popular worldwide brand with a strong brand identity built around sustainability, vegan products and fighting climate change it is quite confusing that they would choose to give up speaking to their combined 1.1million social media followers.
Because you know, if you believe in your cause and product you wouldn’t really care about ‘chasing likes’ in order to ‘spark passions’, right?
Well, apparently not. Apparently, likes do matter.
But only ‘apparently’.
Likes are powerful when we allow them to be. After all, they instantly measure and quantify the success of our content’s reception. We feel validated by the likes our posts receive as the likes materialise the support our followers have for our message or image.
As social media marketing managers, content specialists, PR pros and digital marketers we create, edit, post, share and boost content that we have carefully curated for the audience we want to communicate with.
On a personal level, we share content that we believe shows off our very best side the same way we do with our brands. Our social media side is the side of us we are proud of want what people to see.
As self-assured adults, we would all like to confidently say that we don’t care about likes on our posts, as long as the content is good. But for some, an obsession with likes can take on a life of its own.
While some may disregard the self-esteem issues born from low likes as narcissistic or materialistic, the threat facing many social media users is real. The issue is so real that it doesn’t just affect teenage girls and boys, but also impacts successful worldwide brands and celebrities.
Remember Kanye West’s dramatic exit from social media a year ago? In case you’ve forgotten here is a quick recap:
“There are people who are committing suicide due to not getting enough likes…I personally want to participate in social media with the option of not having to show my followers or likes.”
Kanye’s struggles with mental health are no secret and yet it is crazy to imagine that Kanye West could be affected by the lack of likes on his posts. As if a lack of likes could in any way measure how talented he is or be a slight to the popularity of his music.
Even though these thoughts may seem ludicrous coming from Kanye, his exit post resonated with many people’s battle with social media, self-validation and mental health.
I never thought I would see the day where Kanye’s vision for a like-less Instagram started to develop and yet here we are.
Instagram’s step towards protecting users mental health by removing visible likes feels almost overdue.
Originally Instagram was a platform where friends shared their photos hidden under really, really bad filters. But just like every other popular social media platform, Instagram evolved into something far more complex.
Instagram has provided an easy to use, interactive platform for brands to develop a voice, an image, a customer base and a communications point. Instagram has connected friends and family through photos, videos and stories. It has also become a great platform for information and ideas sharing.
For these reasons I still love Instagram and love what it has allowed its users to build and share. I am a sucker for an amazing feed, discovering new brands, wish-listing travel destination and finding new cafes to eat at.
But I also have a lot of trust issues with Instagram. My frustration begins with the inflation of manipulative influencers, the thousands of users who seek validation through edited, unrealistic images and the uphill battle of algorithms favouring paid content.
Removing visible likes from Instagram feeds won’t necessarily fix these issues, but it could be the beginning of steering Instagram back towards being a more transparent, meaningful platform.
Or perhaps without likes, people’s incentives to post photos or to even engage with content at all will fade. Perhaps users will just find new ways to quantify their online popularity. Perhaps society might just move over to a new platform altogether.
Either way, an invisible-like count could encourage users to share content that they love, without being too concerned about the performance of the posts. Without the pressure to perform well, the newsfeed could become more transparent with less crowd-pleasing overly edited fluff.
A hidden like count could positively combat the frustrations users feel towards Instagram without threatening the existing positive functions that allow brands to thrive.
At the very least, without visible likes, the anxiety-like feelings that come before sharing something you’re proud of might cease to exist. And if that’s not a hurdle you need to jump, you can still rejoice in a more honest, more real and more interesting newsfeed. Fingers crossed for a click-bait free zone.
And who knows. Maybe Lush might at least come back to Instagram because without likes they can focus on sharing their products, values and connecting with their customers without worrying about their follow to like ratio.
Having trouble keeping up with all the changes on your favourite social media platforms? Don’t stress, that is why Red Herring Digital exists. Contact us to chat about how we can keep your business thriving across every digital platform.