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What If Instagram Got Rid of Likes? Plus Even More Social Media What Ifs

What if you had a magic wand and could make any change you wanted on social media?
Quite a question, right?
Well, we dove into the many different what if scenarios — both real and imagined — that may shape social media in the months and years to come. We pulled up all the latest news and changes so that you’ll know what to expect next on social. And we also polled the Science of Social Media listeners to see what they’d change on social media if they had a magic wand.

Setting the stage …
Whenever we hop on customer research calls with our community, we often end the call by asking this one open-ended question. It goes like this.
“Forget about what’s possible. If you could wave a magic wand and solve anything with our product, what would you do?”
Wow, what power!
This question comes from Cindy Alvarez and her book Lean Customer Development. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Cindy because her question has led to some really amazing insights for the Buffer product!
And it’s so interesting to consider that question in light of the social media space.
It seems as if the makers behind our favorite social platforms are already thinking outside the box to solve problems for their audiences. It’s as if they already have a magic wand!
You can see evidence of this in the headlines.
A few weeks back at Facebook’s F8 conference, there were multiple announcements about changes coming to Instagram and Facebook. We learned that Instagram might be getting rid of likes and that Facebook might be rethinking the News Feed.
We can also see major innovations like Instagram Checkout on the horizon.
All these changes really got our minds turning. How will marketers be affected by these moves?
And if all this is possible, what else could be coming?
What else should we wish for?
Let’s dive into the details of a number of these wishlist items, starting with Instagram Likes.

1. What if Instagram got rid of likes?

Instagram is testing a way to hide the number of likes on each post.
The news became official during Facebook’s F8 conference a couple of weeks back. The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, confirmed that the test is happening now and that the goal is to make Instagram feel less competitive.
The way it works is that the total number of likes on an image or video is hidden when you’re looking at the post. And instead of the like count, there’s a short blurb that says .. “Liked by [Name] and others.”
Images via TechCrunch
Anyone can then tap that text to see the full list of people who have liked the post.
The good news for marketers, is that Instagram will still total up your likes for you. This like count won’t be visible to anyone but you, and you can access this like count by tapping the word “others” from the post, then you’ll see the list of everyone who liked the post, plus Instagram will total this number for you.
Likes will still be available as usual in your full Instagram analytics both natively and in social analytics products like Buffer Analyze.
For the public, this is a huge change and could have significant benefits for mental well-being, too. “Like” counts can be a source of constant competition and can sometimes affect ones self-esteem and self-worth.
For marketers, the change could have a couple of effects:

According to an article in the Huffington Post, many people who have been testing the new Instagram change claim that they are posting more to Instagram than before. This would be good news for brands on Instagram who are there to engage with their audience.
There have been thoughts that this change might impact influencer marketing because influencers will lose out on a key element of social proof. It remains to be seen exactly how this will shake out.

Overall, we anticipate that a change to Likes on Instagram will have a small effect on marketers, if any. With Likes being less visible, you may see behaviors change on Instagram, resulting in lower Like counts over time. But these stats will still be available and accessible, just like before.

What if you could shop directly on Instagram?
At the moment, there are 20 brands that have access to Instagram Checkout. This group includes fashion and beauty brands like Nike, Adidas, Dior, and ColourPop.
With Instagram Checkout, the full shopping experience happens on Instagram: you can tap from a post or Story to a product page and complete the ordering experience directly in the app.
Images courtesy of the Instagram blog
Adidas gave a rosy review of their experience with Instagram Checkout, counting it as a key reason why online sales for the shoe retailer have grown 40% year over year.
And this isn’t the first time Instagram has explored e-commerce. As I’m sure you’ve seen on the platform, you can find shoppable posts in your feed, in Stories, and in videos. Back in March, Instagram reported that 130 million users are taking advantage of shoppable posts.
So what might this mean for marketers?
Instagram Checkout represents a potentially seismic shift in social media. We already have features like Pinterests Product Pins, so the combining of e-commerce and social media kind of seems inevitable. A push from Instagram Checkout might be just what is needed to get over the hump.
And this could have big effects on the role of a social media manager. Already we’re seeing that this role is shifting from a content producer to a multitalented brand builder.
Our best advice for the moment: Get into the data of your social media performance. If you’re using shoppable posts or social advertising, understand the best ways that you’re capturing engagement on social media. This will help you be ready for if — or when — e-commerce fully arrives to social.

What if the News Feed went away entirely?
It seems ridiculous to think of.
The News Feed is synonymous with social media these days. Every network has a feed, and every network has an algorithm that surfaces custom content to its users.
Well, it’s no longer impossible to fathom a Facebook without a News Feed.
There have been signs of Facebook moving in that direction, especially after F8 when they revealed new designs that showed an emphasis on Groups and Events.

So what would a News Feed-less Facebook be like for marketers?
It would certainly throw advertising for a loop. The News Feed is the primary real estate for Facebook advertising. You can’t advertise on Groups at all. So we’d probably see some pretty major evolutions in terms of ad spend on Facebook.
And the shift toward privacy makes me wonder how brands and businesses fit into that vision at all. Of course, Facebook will find a way to make things work — it’s the brands and businesses who help Facebook pay the bills. But what will a shift to privacy and away from a News Feed mean in practice? More one-to-one conversations with customers? An emphasis on real-time messaging with WhatsApp or Messenger?
Of course, these changes will take time … we’re talking years, not months. Mark Zuckerberg said so himself from the stage at F8. So while there are lots of unknowns about what the future of the News Feed will mean, it’s still a long ways off from becoming reality.

What if you could wave a magic wand on social media?
The following are a handful of wishes for social media, submitted to us by listeners to The Science of social Media.
The first:
What if you could edit your tweets after you’ve published them?
This comes up quite often, especially when you see a small typo after just hitting send. I think we’ve all been there! Maybe there could be a one minute timer on editing a tweet so you can catch typos but not drastically change a tweet after it’s become popular?
What if social media had an “Effort Meter”?
What if you could see how much time and energy someone put into making an image or a video? Wow, wouldn’t that be insightful!
I know we’ve often wondered how these amazing brands and influencers do it. It’d be really interesting to see inside an Instagram studio or to go behind-the-scenes with a brand’s social media team.
And to tie this into our first “what if” scenario about Instagram likes, I think it could be quite powerful also to simply know that the amazing social media post you saw wasn’t done in an afternoon! It’s rare that people can roll out of bed and whip something up that looks this good.
What if we rethought the way that social media feeds worked?
There’d be a ton of different ways to do it. One suggestion from the community was to simply put things back the way they were … a list of all the posts from the people you follow, with the most recent ones at the top.

An Honest Craigslist Mattress Ad

Selling a full-size IKEA mattress that is four years old. I've only slept with four guys in this bed, and that's honestly not that many guys. You should feel bad for me! But in my defense, I've only had the bed for the past three years. Before that it was my cousin's, and she gave it to me for free because she also felt bad for me. I've gotten a lot out of this world based on pity alone, and I don't plan to end that streak anytime soon. I mean, come on, I'm a woman!This is a very nice bed for a lady looking to be a spinster or a guy who is really trying to "just work on himself right now." It's comfortable, but not so comfortable that you'll feel guilty about how well you are sleeping and then spiral into self-awareness of your cushy life and the social injustices of the world. When you travel and spend the night in a hotel, you'll definitely appreciate the quality of the hotel bed and maybe even miss the hotel bed a little bit when you return home and look at your sad fucking IKEA bed and think to yourself, Jesus, how did I get here? Where are all these crumbs coming from?! What do my friends even mean by wanting to "help me help myself?" Listen, the bed is a little creaky. I think it's the box spring. You'll either be having crazy-loud sex, or teaching your partner how to sex you real gentle-like. That's for you to figure out, along with the rest of your horrible and messy personal, professional and familial life. Please buy this bed and get your goddamn shit together. Think of this mattress as a stepping stone towards a better version of yourself. I was in your position once–willing to take whatever bed someone was ready to ditch at the curb, accepting the fact that someone else's trash was indeed my treasure. Hey, you have to IKEA before you can West Elm. Buy this bed and you too will grow up. You might even go from being 22 to 24. You could possibly, during the course of owning this bed, get a not-so-entry-level job that's less administrative and slightly more interesting. Maybe, against all odds, you'll find someone who regularly wants to sleep in this awful fucking excuse for a bed with you. I am not kidding, this bed doesn't even have springs. No springs at all. It's just a soft, plush pallet that is generally mattress-shaped. And then maybe you, too, will be lucky enough to have a roommate who is moving out and pities you so much that he'll sell you his much nicer bed for a super reduced price. That's called moving up in the world. Trust me on that. I'm 25 now.Looking for $100 but will take more if you have any empathy whatsoever. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Funny Or Die’s ‘Mexican Donald Trump’ Has Way Bigger Cojones

Mexican Donald Trump with George Lopez from Adam "Ghost Panther" McKayDonaldo Trumpez, the Mexican Donald Trump played by George Lopez in this Funny Or Die sketch, has big plans to make Mexico great again. Namely, keep American tourists out by building a wall."They're not sending their best," Trumpez says, echoing words that should sound familiar to those following Trump's anti-immigration comments on the presidential campaign trail.Trumpez points out that Americans there serve watered-down tequila at poorly named Mexican restaurants — and who wants that? So if you're thinking of visiting south of the border if he's elected president of Mexico, you can probably count on him saying no way, José.– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Worst Things About Weddings, According To This Drunk Dude

Weddings, for however lovely and fun-filled they can be, do have some seriously crappy drawbacks that deserved to be acknowledged. And who better to bring those to light than professional complainer (and BuzzFeed staffer) Matt Bellassai. In this week's installment of his video series Whine About It, he goes on a five-minute rant about the worst aspects of weddings, while simultaneously downing a big ol' glass of red wine."Why do I even have to give you a gift?" he says in the video. "Buy your own damn microwave. Nobody bought me a microwave when I moved in by myself and all I could afford were those tiny cups of Easy Mac."During his comical tirade, he also touches on topics like the high cost of attending weddings, not getting a plus-one, long-winded ceremonies and speeches and a lack of hot bachelors. And, of course, the most egregious wedding failure of all: the dreaded cash bar. Watch him spout some hilarious, curmudgeonly truths in the video above. Also on HuffPost: — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Why Did So Many Celebrity Couples Break Up This Summer?

Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Or that’s the idea, anyway.In song, the lazy months of beach trips and top-down country jaunts are supposed to be a golden time of the year for romance. But in celebrity circles, the summer of 2015 may be remembered as a buzz saw for famous lovers: a grim season that sliced several of Hollywood’s most celebrated couples in half. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Tiny Hamsters At The Gym Are All The #Fitspo We Need

Finding the motivation to head to the gym is hard — especially if you're a hamster. But then again, when you're walking around naked all day, it seems like you'd want to do at least some cardio on the wheel and maybe squeeze in a little weight training. Now, thanks to a new Discount Supplements health campaign, we've finally been able to capture hamsters in their natural gym habitat. Though their gym is entirely made out of little veggies, it looks like they get some serious working out in. Remember, little guys, only 30 minutes on the treadmill during peak hamsters hours, alright?H/T Bored PandaAlso on HuffPost: — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Here Are All The New Emojis Coming Soon To Your iPhone

New emojis are coming to the iPhone. And, yes, there will finally be an emoji of someone flipping the middle finger.As part of a special iOS 9.1 beta upload that became available for developers Wednesday, people got a first look at the slew of new emojis that will soon be available on Apple's devices in the near future, The Next Web reports.After the software update is released to everyone, people will be able to hieroglyphically express themselves by sending emojis of a burrito, a cricket bat, a monkey, a "talk to the hand" symbol and more.Other bizarre emojis include a tongue covered with money, chains and a casket.Apple is set to release the consumer version of iOS 9 on Sept. 16, and version 9.1 will roll out sometime later. This means that Apple products will probably get the new emojis later this fall. Back in June, the Unicode Consortium, the organization that writes the code for emoji designs, said it was planning to release dozens of new emojis that'll be available across different digital platforms. It looks like Apple's going to be the first to get them, with Android, Twitter and Facebook adding them shortly after, according to Hypable.com.For what it's worth, Microsoft actually beat Apple in the middle finger game, implementing a middle finger emoji in Windows 10 this summer.Here's a look at some of the emoji options that will be available in iOS 9.1 — the new ones are mixed in with the old ones, as they'd look once the update hits your phone:– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

This Adorable Child Has The Power To Destroy Us All … Adorably

Listen, if some all-powerful being is going to one day destroy our entire way of life and planet Earth itself, why not let it be an adorable little girl in a leotard?The little girl is actually the daughter of Emmy-winning director and visual effects artist Kyle Roberts. He took footage of his family videos over the past year and added special effects. The force is strong with this little one.Also on HuffPost: For a constant stream of entertainment news and discussion, follow HuffPost Entertainment on Viber. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Watch FKA Twigs Perform A Haunting Cover Of ‘Elastic Heart’ For BBC Radio 1

When FKA twigs does a cover, she doesn't just sing, she performs. The singer dropped by the BBC Radio 1 live lounge where she performed a uniquely haunting rendition of Sia's "Elastic Heart" (we didn't think it was possible, but she proved us wrong). Twigs went way beyond a typical cover and added some contemporary choreography to the mix. (Side note: In case you didn't know, Robert Pattinson's lady love is also a talented dancer.) Once the second verse kicked in, FKA twigs removed her jacket and eventually released the mic from its stand so she could really move around. With the help of a male dancer, the performance was elevated from a stripped-down cover to a beautiful work of art. But what else should we expect from the woman who gave us "Pendulum?" You can check out the entire performance below, and watch her perform her song "In Time," as well. Also on HuffPost: For a constant stream of entertainment news and discussion, follow HuffPost Entertainment on Viber.– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Even Gorillas Are Glued To Smartphones These Days

If you're having trouble tearing your kid away from his iPhone, just be thankful he's not a 400-pound ape.Footage taken at Kentucky’s Louisville Zoo shows Jelani, a young male silverback gorilla, seemingly enthralled by a zoo visitor’s smartphone, nodding as the boy shows him each new image. Apparently, Jelani is known for his interest in technology — his biography on the zoo’s website says “he is a laid-back individual and likes to look at cellphone photos and videos."Since video editor Paul Ross uploaded the footage to YouTube earlier this month, the Internet has become as glued to the video as Jelani is to his visitor’s photographs.But some viewers see the video as bittersweet, since Jelani is, after all, in captivity and not out in the wild. Ross addressed this point in an updated description of his YouTube video:Please note that this gorilla (I believe he is named Jelani) is housed in an award winning 4 acre gorilla sanctuary in the Louisville Zoo. He is a Western Lowland Gorilla, a species classified as "critically endangered" by the I.U.C.N.The Louisville Zoo works hard to provide Jelani and his group with great nutrition, a stimulating and wide open environment, medicine and a chance and hopefully through awareness and captive breeding they'll help move this beautiful species off that endangered list.Ross recommends that anyone who feels moved by the video should learn more about the zoo's gorilla sanctuary and find out what they can do to help the great apes.Contact the author of this article at Hilary.Hanson@huffingtonpost.com. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.