Why is Instagram hiding likes?

Is Instagram hiding likes? Well not yet, not officially, but
in a recently leaked prototype screenshot, we can see that the total number of ‘likes’
have been removed, but the account names of people who have liked an image
remain.

This was first noticed by Jane Manchun Wong of TechCrunch, who has a unique ability to read code and reverse engineer changes to then produce screenshots, such as those below that show the removal of the total number of likes.

Instagram hides like count prototype

Why is Instagram hiding likes?

Well, ostensibly the reason is for users mental health.

In the day and age of ‘influencers’ and popularity on the
platform, Instagram’s own research has shown that the battle for likes can be
harmful to the psychology of its users, and has been looking at ways to combat
this since 2016.

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how
many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share a post
will see the total number of likes it gets,” is how the potential change has
been described by Instagram.

What does Instagram hiding likes mean?

If Instagram start hiding likes, the people who will feel
the pinch at first will be Influencers who rely on the platform for
endorsements, as often their deals are based on their engagement.

A potential sponsor can look at an account and get a quick
snapshot of how many likes and comments a post gets, which will help them to
make a decision when they are calculating their ROI.

Instagram being Instagram, we may potentially see a further
update where business accounts can pay for the ability so see their total
number of likes, watch this space…

The second group who will be wondering what to do next will
be Social Media Managers, as a) clients always want to know what engagement
they are getting and b) traditionally it has been easy to pull engagement
reports, but this may become a whole lot harder going forward.

Will this change Instagram user behaviour?

Instagram hiding likes will most likely change user
behaviour, but in a good way for the people the platform relies on most – the average
user.

While Influencers and businesses won’t be happy, Instagram won’t be fussed, as they see those groups as getting a free way to market their business (and either make money or fail miserably) that provides Instagram with $0, unless they are buying ads.

Instagram needs the ‘average user’ to love being on
Instagram, as the longer you are on it, the more ads they can show you, and the
more likely you are to click on one.

One new behaviour we should see from Instagram hiding likes
is people leaving images they post, even if they don’t get much engagement.

Over the years, especially amongst teens, if a post doesn’t get many ‘likes’ quickly then the user deletes it to avoid perceived embarrassment. This then damages their self-confidence, and if the pattern continues, over time, they are less likely to use the platform.

As an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch: “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”

Instagram Hiding Likes – The Conclusion

Will Instagram hiding likes be an earth-shattering change?

No.

Across Facebook pages, forums, and Reddit threads people
will be angry for a few weeks and vow to walk away from the platform, then apathy
will kick in, people will shrug their shoulders, and continue on with their
lives.

At the end of the day, if you’re creating great content,
being able to see the number of likes won’t matter.

What will continue to matter (and always should) is your intention for using the platform. If you’re using it to attract leads to your business then continue to post regularly and engage with your potential clients. Instagram can (and will) continue to tweak their platform, but the fundamentals of using the platform as a business tool haven’t changed.

Posted in

Jarrod Partridge

Leave a Comment