Is Instagram hiding your likes? With this latest scandal in the world of social media dividing the population, we delve deeper into the stats and facts. What does this new action mean for your account or for those accounts you are following? What does it mean for the wider sphere of social marketing and of influence?
Instagram began testing a new feature in Canada in May 2019 that would hide public like counts on all posts. More recently, Instagram announced in a tweet that they’re now expanding the test to several more countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, & New Zealand — which is why you’re suddenly hearing more about it now.
How do hidden likes work?
The newly proposed Instagram feature means that as you scroll through your feed, you no longer see a like count on other post. However, “you can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself” explains Mark Zuckerberg at F8.
You will still be able to see how many likes you receive on your own post even if your followers can’t. You simply have to tap through to “other” to see the full total as it will not appear automatically.
Users in Canada (and now Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, & New Zealand) weren’t able to opt into the test phase although they were alerted as to why they no longer see a total like count.
When asked why Instagram was trialling this feature, Zuckerberg hinted at creating more authentic content: “We want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”
How will this new roll-out feature affect influencers and brands?
On a platform where we measure a posts “success” against its number of likes, how will hiding the like count change the way we use Instagram?
Creating more meaningful relations, more authentic content with a minimal negative impact on our mental health are a few reasons for the hiding of likes. Are we less likely to “like” something because it’s got a large number of likes already? Instead, will we scroll more slowly, stop and engage with content that we connect with and therefore spend longer on the platform.
Kimberly from the Eat Capture Share podcast alludes to this in her latest bonus episode all about Instagram hiding likes. By spending more time on Instagram commenting, chatting and scrolling the platform grows – after all, it is a business. It is a business that needs to make money and with each new algorithm change, the temptation of Instagram ads and sponsored posts becomes more enticing.
How will brands know which influencers to work with if they can no longer rely on reach and like statistics?
Lea Haberman the former Vice President for Audience Development at Livestrong, comments that this change “will likely increase the number of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.”
Will brands find the option of paid-for boosted posts more appealing as they will have direct access to the results? Will they have a better sense of engagement and reach rather than paying influencers good money and trusting them to report back? The decrease of views could be a way of Instagram earning more money through paid posts – money, which at the moment, is been given to influencers directly. It seems, more than ever, that a good media pack and pitch email sheet are necessary as proof of your content quality and monetary worth.
The future face of our feeds
On the flip side, there are many reasons to rejoice in this new change for the face of our Instagram feeds. To start with, Facebook and Instagram only hire the best of the best to predict future trends in the market. Is it that they can see something that we can’t yet? Think of how quickly the industry has boomed in the last 5 years… we can only imagine where we will be in 5, 10, 20 years time. Likewise, who will be the main platform users – will it be the Millenials and Generation Z who are paving the future of the platform? This is the audience Instagram is trying to secure in the future in a battle with Snapchat and other quick, easy and accessible medium.
Welcome the opportunity to make your content unique and engaging.
Whoever the user, we all know a good porridge bowl does well in the mornings, but with the hiding of likes, Instagram encourages us to try out something new. Kimberly suggests that Instagram has become quite “creatively stagnant” as we cater towards the content that gets us the likes. Now it is time to think outside the box and not only post in the style and at the time that gets us all the likes – make sure you are on top of your Instagram game to stay ahead.
By creating content that truly makes us happy and excited, we can hope to not fixate on the number of likes that appear and instead we can value our own self-worth based on what we think of our work. Sure, we can still tap through to see the total number of likes, but with nothing to compare it to but our own previous posts, we can relax a little.
If you are a business user of Instagram, fear not.
This trial period does not mean that these changes will be implemented soon, if ever as they stand. It does mean, however, that you “will have to be more creative in analyzing data and get specific about what content is actually driving the business, and supporting your business goals,” suggests Mel Brittner who is a social media strategist at Later.
Spend time figuring out who your target audience is and how they behave on the platform and learning how to track your influencer marketing results. It can be argued that as a result, fewer Instagram Bots will plague the platform, levelling out the playing field. Bot likes and bot followers have always been a huge issue on social media and this is one way in which Instagram is diminishing their power and appeal.
When will the changes happen?
If and when the changes are made, only Instagram and time will tell what the face of our social media feeds will look like. As results from the new trials are yet to come in, the jury is out as to the efficacy and impact hiding our likes will have for influencers, businesses and the monetary value of the platform.
Join in the conversation and let us know your thoughts over on social media – we are @hbloggerscom on Instagram – and check our 4-week Instagram challenge if looking for more support.