Last week Instagram announced plans to further expand their trial of hiding likes to more than six countries, in a bid to create a less pressurised online environment. Users in Japan, Italy, Ireland, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia are now no longer able to see the number of likes or video views on other people’s posts. Instagram claims it is because they want our friends to focus on the photos and videos being shared rather than the amount of likes the post receives. But where will this leave digital influencers?
The rise of social media has allowed everyday consumers to become popular thought leaders online, where everyone and anyone can become (or at least claim to be) a digital influencer. One less metric for measuring engagement will make it difficult for influencers to stand out amongst an already saturated market.
But just how much have influencers impacted millennials decisions to travel to destinations they’ve seen online?
Influencer content is favourable as it allows millennials to buy into an idea of reality. But for a high-risk, high investment purchase such as travel, the information search process extends further than Instagram alone. Presenting the idea that although influencers provide inspiration, it’s no different from seeing a post from family or friends who we know and trust. As many influencers extend their posts beyond travel alone, it is becoming increasingly hard to tell if they are genuinely passionate about the products they are promoting or if they are only posting content to fulfil their paid deal with a brand.
We must remember that social platforms have a responsibility to control and minimise the negative impacts that come with living in the digital age. Is it healthy to compare ourselves to unrealistic, aesthetically perfect, social ideals? It may be the right time to think about the impact social media has on an individual’s mental health, while encouraging realistic and motivational goals instead of unattainable lifestyles.