Like Or Dislike? Beauty Brand Founders And Influencers Weigh In On Instagram Removing Likes

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions relevant to indie beauty, we ask 15 brand founders and influencers: What do you think of Instagram removing likes from posts?


Loraine R. Dowdy Founder and CEO, Coloured Raine Cosmetics

I think it will potentially hurt businesses. Any company or person operating as a licensed business/brand should be allowed to have their likes viewed by the public. Consumers feel more assured investing into a product that is liked and talked about. It’s essentially removing a part of the brands certification. Allow the businesses to show as a legitimate operating entity. As we know and either way, Instagram will do what they feel is best.

Bart Kaczanowicz Influencer, OMGBart

I don't believe likes have had significant impact on conversion in a while. It will be interesting to see brands dig a bit deeper and take into consideration content over what appears to be exposure. If exposure continues to generate engagement, nobody should be worried. Personally, I am excited to see how this could potentially shift future conversations about paid collaborations.

Meghan Maupin CEO and Co-Founder, Atolla

Our hope is that removing the like function will encourage a shift away from the manipulated and over-edited images on the platform, which over the past few years have created a skewed standard for beauty. 

Since Instagram is a platform built on social validation, removing the pressure to compete for likes could allow for a return to authenticity and a focus on health over physical looks. We would welcome this change as one of our brand pillars is to showcase beautiful skin in a transparent way. We always show real people—no filters or retouching, ever.

Hyram Yarbro Influencer, Skincare By Hyram

I personally find it to be problematic, specifically for brands and small creators. I don’t deny the detrimental psychological aspect of people comparing their post likes with others. However, I think the experience differs depending on how you use the platform. 

As a content creator, I approach my Instagram performance with a business mindset. A post’s performance won’t define how I perceive myself, but rather show me what type of content performs better, and how I should adjust my approach for growth. It’s critical that brands see creator’s like and comment count in order to gauge their profile validity and engagement rate. By removing like counts, it makes it more difficult for brands to find organically grown accounts. 

With the industry already plagued by bought followers, this will further push brands away from working with Instagram creators for fear of a scam investment. I’m fortunate to have my primary focus and following on YouTube, but I think it’s unfair to creators who are working to grow organically on Instagram. 

In my opinion, users should have the option to enable or disable the like count feature. Or, if nothing else, only allow like counts for Instagram business profiles. This way the new update won’t negatively affect creators and brands.

Julie Longyear Founder and Herbal Chemist, Blissoma Holistic Skincare

I do not believe this change is being made for the health and welfare of people as Instagram is a business and does things for business reasons. Instagram is a platform where illusion reigns. This change creates another opportunity for manipulation of posts.  

We already know that people buy followers, and likes and pods exist to like one another's posts and artificially boost them in importance in feeds. People are forced to go through this kind of contortion to get any kind of placement in news feeds these days at all because of how they artificially limit business posts. Removing like counts will enable people to further manipulate likes behind the scenes and not have their end viewer have any idea.  

Your posts could go from 100 to 1,000 likes in a single day, and no one on the outside would bat an eyelash because they cannot see, but Instagram will still be counting behind the scenes, and the likes would still make your posts more likely to appear in news feeds based on relevance and importance.   

This is yet another situation where money and strategy take precedent versus actual quality content. You can't believe anything you see there. Follower counts, likes, comments, it can all be manipulated. Rather than making the playing field more level, this will tilt it even more drastically. People just won't be able to see how it is happening.

Jan Fay Founder, Nami Naturale

As a startup and upcoming Irish skincare brand, I find Instagram’s test of removing likes from the posts works in our favor because now people do take their time to look and read the caption of our post. And, most of the time, there is a social interaction happening which we really enjoy. 

From a business perspective, we find this is a good thing because we get an idea of who are the potential customers, what they are looking for in a brand and a product, and we get to interact with them. Before, our post would get many likes, but there [wasn't] a lot of social interaction happening as people seem to double tap away just because they saw the number of likes hitting through the roof.

Amanda Jo Influencer and Founder, The Organic Bunny

Fortunately for me, I own my own business, so I do not rely on likes for collaborations as many other influencers may do. While I do rely on social media to promote my business, I quit paying attention to likes after they changed their algorithms and mine dropped. So, for me, this is not that bothersome as I already overlook them. 

However, for those that are influencers and land gigs based on likes, I can see how this could be disappointing. I think, at the end of the day, we have to remember that it is their platform so all we can do is follow their rules, and stay innovative when it comes to measuring and proving engagement.

Amanda McIntosh Founder and CEO, Take My Face Off

I like the idea, but I don’t know what real impact it will have. Do high like counts really impact our choice of where to direct our attention? Does removing this information promote healthy differences? I can’t wait to find out. We can assume Instagram was happy with their test of the change, and I see Instagram changes as a good thing. It seems like they’re successful in getting everyone to create more engaging content.

I feel like the complaints about Instagram becoming a pay-to-play environment aren’t quite fair. When people interact with a post, Instagram notices and broadcasts it to more people. If Instagram isn’t broadcasting your posts far enough, you can stick with what you’ve got and pay to advertise, or you can try new material until you find what works.

Andrea Lee Influencer, Organic Beauty Lover

I personally cannot wait for Instagram to roll out this change, because I could do without the dreadful anxiety that surrounds likes. Instagram has continuously updated its algorithm to show our posts to less and less people in our audience, and this has caused spirits and motivation to plummet in the green beauty blogger community. 

Without the pressure to garner tons of likes, we can post freely on topics we care about. Apparently, we will still be able to see the number of likes on our own account, but it won't be visible publicly. I think this will cause a drastic decrease in likes because we now know that our likes won't be seen by anybody but the account owner. A big part of clicking that heart button is to feel like you’re part of a community and to announce to that community that you're engaged, listening and curious. 

I also think, with brands focusing so much on engagement when determining who to work with and how much to pay, there will be enormous pressure on the number of comments each post has. Purchased comments are already a thing, so I'm sure some people are going to make a lot more money very soon. 

As for brands who are growing their business, they may try to do more sponsored ads with Instagram directly rather than through influencers. Instagram is doing this because they believe it will somehow benefit their business model and, by gradually decreasing influencer visibility and removing likes, they are showing that only Instagram ads has total power over who sees your posts.

Aston LaFon Co-Founder, 18.21 Man Made

As a men’s grooming brand, our hope is that our social media presence will positively impact his lifestyle or inspire someone to spoil him. A comment or message from a user feels like a genuine connection, whereas likes seem like a popularity contest. 

We cannot predict the outcome, but would hope that the removal of likes might stimulate a more engaging interaction with users through comments or messaging. We live in a like culture, whereas likes drive a persons need for approval or acceptance. And removing likes could alleviate the competitive pressures of social media and positively impact a users mental health, and we can support that wholeheartedly.

MICHELLE SHAFFER Co-Founder and CEO, TwinMedix

Instagram is known for people liking pictures and posts of their interests. I think that liking others posts is a positive influence and don’t understand why they would want to remove something they have liked before. Removing the likes on pictures will affect brands popularity on photos and will not show who is paying attention to your brand. Likes help keep track of audiences and brand recognition.

Amanda Nicole Influencer, Simply in Skincare

Internationally, likes have been missing from posts for the last few months without much being said on it. A friend from New Zealand and I have been speaking on this topic lately as it is something many are freaking out about. 

From a content creators perspective, I think hiding likes will be a positive update. At the moment, with likes being at an all-time low thanks to the algorithm, creators spend less time posting content that they actually enjoy to post content that might help them gain a higher IG reach. 

I know many bloggers who specifically review, post and photograph products from brands because of how popular they are. Self-imposed pressure has become a normal thing on IG to get more and more likes to seem relevant. Hopefully, with some pressure coming off creators shoulders with likes disappearing, content will become more varied and genuine.

Annie Tevelin Founder, SkinOwl

I couldn't be more in support of this initiative. With an ever-changing algorithm, our focus on likes doesn't align with the amount of people who actually see your posts. With less people seeing your posts organically, it's only right that the epidemic that is likes releases its hold on us. 

I no longer see Instagram as a place to upload pictures everyday. It is a marketing platform. A sales platform. A place for my brand to showcase who we are in a unique way. It's no longer about creating an inauthentic feed or color-coordinated image of perfection. People are craving real reactions and real looking people as the alternative fatigues the user in very damaging ways. I think, without our eye on how many likes we get, there is a real opportunity for people to connect again.

Kathleen Fuentes Influencer, KathleenLights

Personally, I feel torn about this decision. A huge part of me thinks it’s amazing and needed especially for our younger generation. It takes away the pressure of posting for likes but at the same time, is it really going to change anything? Or are people going to be more focused on followers now? I have faith they are trying to make these changes to better the app. So, we’ll see.

Evelyne Nyairo Founder, Ellie Bianca

The way we see it, Instagram’s latest move is bound to keep businesses more honest and force them to take a more authentic approach in order to grow their brand. In the past, some brands have been using bots (robots) for likes, which, at face value may make them seem like they are doing well yet realistically there is no engagement or sales turnover. It’s just the numbers that give the impression of sales. 

From our experience, consistency is the key to building any brand.  When we started, we had only one product, the peppermint lip-balm. We ensured we were consistent with the product and with our online presence. We posted regularly and told stories that inspire, our brand was more than a beauty line, it was a story that our target audience could relate to. We shared each new product and took our clients on the journey with us to where we have built our 21 SKUs. Consequently, as our portfolio has grown so have our engagement and sales. It is important that brands work on being consistent in order to gain authentic engagement which will in turn convert to sales. 

The move by Instagram will push businesses away from collecting likes to instead developing brand stories that engage and result in conversions. Because likes do not necessarily bring purchase intent, a picture may be beautiful, but does it have a story? Can clients relate? And by so doing will they spend?

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