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.
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?
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.