You have read again and again over the past few months… Instagram is hiding likes. Is this true? When is it going to happen? How is it going to affect us? Is it good? If you want to find out the answers to these questions, then keep reading.
What are Instagram Likes?
First of all, let’s start with the basics. Instagram likes to allow users to acknowledge their appreciation or positive expression regarding a particular post. At the moment, Instagram users can see the total number of people who have liked particular posts. Yet, Instagram likes have nowadays taken over a much broader and complicated meaning.
What Role Does Instagram Likes Play on Our Mental Health?
It’s not unusual for teens to compete against who has the most Instagram likes, influencers earning money depending on the number of likes they have, or even users buying likes so just their account looks more popular. All these behaviors signal a serious warning for social media. People have started to assign a value to themselves based on their social media popularity, which highly depends on the number of likes they managed to collect. This, in turn, feeds ill mental health and low self-esteem. However, people shouldn’t be feeling this way, so maybe it’s time to change something.
Is Instagram Hiding the Likes Count?
Instagram is currently testing this feature on a trial in Canada, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, and Japan. Instagram announced this test during the Facebook F8 developer conference in April as a way to combat social pressure and online bullying. With this new feature, followers won’t be able to see the number of likes a post has, but they will instead see “name and others”. Users will still be able to see how many likes they got on their posts as well as the list of people who liked their posts, even if their followers can’t.
Are We Going to Be Happy to See the Likes Count Go?
There are pros and cons if this scenario materializes. The good thing is that by making the number of likes invisible, we expect to see a significant reduction in online bullying and social pressure, which in turn translates to improved mental health and enhanced self-esteem. By removing like counts from the app, users will be more focused on the content of their posts, rather than the popularity that their post has. Not to mention that some users are currently discouraged to post some content because they are afraid that it ‘won’t get a lot of likes’. For instance, Googling about the ‘best time to post on Instagram’ or ‘at how many likes you are considered popular’ is not very healthy for neither of us. Therefore such a change might trigger healthier behaviors when it comes to social media, eventually leading to more authentic, genuine and real social media interactions.
What About Influencers?
It’s going to be much harder for influencers, in which their income depends on followers, likes, and engagements. The number of likes that influencers have on their posts is used to measure the influencer’s popularity and success on social media and provides a good indication for businesses trying to evaluate their performance. By transforming Instagram into an online place where no like counts are seen, influencers will have to work harder to persuade businesses that they are worth the money they are requesting. On the other side of the coin, Influencers will no longer be able to “buy” likes and delude businesses that previously fell in this trap.
What About Businesses?
Businesses will also be affected by this change. The number of likes is often used by businesses and brands as a way to assign a value on a post and evaluate their performance.
As a result, businesses will need to rethink how they measure performance and set out new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as reach and followers count.
What Do We Expect to Change?
With this new feature, users will be challenged to think differently about their social media posts. They will probably stop viewing them as measures of popularity and they will start using them as mediums to express themselves more genuinely and authentically.
“We hope that this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive so you can focus on sharing the things you love”, Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, said. (BBC)
Do We Need to Start Preparing for this Change?
Let’s not hurry things too much. The ‘hidden likes’ feature is still under trial and we don’t expect to hear too soon about it. So we will have to wait and see.