Changes at Instagram – hello to donate stickers, goodbye to likes

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Instagram announced in July that they are trialing a new approach where they hide the number of ‘likes’ on posts, ostensibly to encourage users to stop comparing themselves to each other, and reduce bullying and feelings of inadequacy.

However, it was quickly figured out that this change could also have a huge impact on Instagram influencers. You know how they work:

  • Person builds up a big following on Instagram by wielding food / handbags / their babies in aspirational photos
  • Brands see this, and give the person payment to add brand’s ingredients / handbags / baby clothes to these photos
  • Instagram gets nothing

It’s likely that this move has been done to make it more difficult for ‘influencers’ to sell their endorsements directly to brands without involving Instagram, and that it could have a big effect on influencer reach and, well, influence. (That so many media outlets uncritically repeated Instagram’s press release and didn’t poke into the business reasons why they may be doing this, is pretty depressing.)

How does this affect non-profits? Well, we may see brands moving away from influencers as a result of this, and should consider alternatives to influencer campaigns. It’s also a useful reminder that when you’re too reliant on social media, you create extra risk for your brand. As this Twitterer astutely pointed out:

To be fair to Instagram, there are other anti-bullying measures that they’re testing that might actually have some impact – content nudges and filters that hide nasty comments.

Instagram’s donation sticker

Instagram also started testing out donation stickers earlier this year. They’re an extension of Facebook’s fundraising tools into Instagram, and mean that users can add a donate button to their Instagram Stories.

This is definitely worth testing: the Facebook donation tools have been transformative, and it’ll be really interesting to see if the same principle works on Instagram. As with Facebook, you can’t just plaster donation asks all over everything and expect results – it will require building of engagement and trust through strong storytelling, and compelling, carefully timed asks.

Header photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

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