Is Instagram doing away with likes? It’s been reported by TechCrunch that Instagram has hidden like counts on posts for users in six more countries, continuing its test that started in Canada earlier this year. This is a pretty bold move considering that liking posts has long been a cornerstone of the app’s user experience, and the number of likes has been an established metric by which to measure a post’s success. What’s the reason for the change? Instagram says it wants users and their followers, “…to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
When framed around protecting users’ wellbeing, this sounds like a positive move that could take away some of the anxiety felt around measuring the merit of a post based solely on whether it generates a large number of likes. However, some are concerned that this change may take away some of the incentive for people to even use Instagram, as receiving likes is a main factor in producing that dopamine hit that makes the platform so addictive. It should be noted that this change does not take away the ability to like a post; it only hides the total number of likes from being seen by others. So, users will still be able to like your posts, but no one will be able to see the totals.
This change has not been made in the U.S., but if it does happen here, it may not be such a bad thing for businesses. Facebook, which owns Instagram, has been suppressing the organic reach of posts by business pages on its platform. So, the number of likes a business page post receives without paid promotion is usually pretty low. By hiding the number of likes, it shifts the focus away from these vanity metrics and allows business page posts to be judged solely on their quality and creativity.
Some have questioned whether this move is Instagram’s way of combatting influencer marketing, from which Instagram receives no revenue. By hiding the number of likes, Instagram may be taking away some of the publicly visible success metrics that lower level influencers have used to prove ROI to marketing partners. This may be so, however the number of likes will still be visible to the user, so they could just take a screenshot of the backend and provide that to marketing partners. For more well-established influencers, with more than 50,000 followers, Instagram already provides greater post insights (reach, impressions, etc.) that they usually pass on to the companies with which they’re partnering. If this change has any effect on influencers, it will likely make it difficult for marketing partners to scan for new influencers to work with, since some of the vanity metrics will now be hidden.
Digital Air Strike will continue to keep an eye on changes on Instagram and keep you updated. If you’d like tips or help managing your Instagram account, contact your Client Advocate or our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org today.