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How Will Instagram Hiding Likes in the US Affect Influencers

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You may have heard that Instagram hid the like counts in a number of countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand) over the last 6 months. In the US, we have been dreading the day when we open up the app and find that people can’t see our likes either. According to the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, Instagram will start hiding likes in the US as early as next week.

adam mosseri tweet instagram hiding likes in US

“We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who’ve liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.”

What Does that Mean for Social Influencers?

Personally, I don’t think it’s going to stop established influencers from getting campaigns. First, because the brands will have to adjust how they choose their influencers and second because we will still be able to send our insights to perspective companies. Some platforms and agencies can connect to your Facebook business page and should still be able to see your stats, though I can’t confirm or deny that until public likes are officially hidden.

Don’t forget that while brands can’t see how many liked your post or how many people viewed your video (yes, views are hidden as well), they will be able to see your comments, so if you already have a great following who engage and leave comments, you will still stand out to prospective brands.

I also believe that this will put more of an emphasis on your content and that’s a good thing! Your photos and copy will be the first thing that companies see instead of how many likes you have. If you’ve been working hard on that, you will get noticed.

Instagram’s CEO explained, “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them.” 

For those that have been buying likes to boost their numbers, I think this can go one of two ways.

  1. They are going to continue, or increase the likes they buy because companies won’t be able to click and see the fake accounts, they will just see a number in a screenshot the influencer sends to them, upon request.
  2. They are finally going to stop wasting their money on fake likes and spend their time focusing on the quality of their content, providing content that their audience wants to see and engaging with their audience.

Let’s hope most go with the latter.

Will This Decrease Likes?

I’d say there’s a great chance that you will see your likes decrease when Instagram starts hiding likes in the US. One concern is the herd mentality. You are more likely to “like” a post if you see it’s gotten a large number of likes. Even if that post is meaningless to you, if thousands have liked it, it must be worthy of the double tap.  If a post doesn’t have many likes, you might think that post is insignificant and scroll right past it.

So if we can’t see likes at all, will people stop liking all together?

Which brings up another great question… will Instagram roll out a permanent feature that will ultimately sabotage their own app activity? It seems that this test will determine that.

Influencer marketing platform, HypeAuditor released a study they conducted of more than 150k Instagram influencers, each of whom has at least 30% of their following coming from users in the countries where Instagram’s hidden likes test is currently running. SocialMediaToday reported these results which show that influencers with 20 – 100k followers, in all six of the testing countries, had a decrease in their number of likes.

hype auditor study on hidden instagram likes

Canadian writer, Sara Warren, who you may know as @travelswithtots, or through her new podcast, The Family Fun Show, was one of the first to experience hidden likes back in April of 2019. “Losing visible likes was definitely an adjustment. Most Canadians (myself included) saw a drop off in likes when you could no longer see the number as people didn’t feel compelled to like things in the same way. At first it was upsetting as you think maybe it’s because people aren’t enjoying your content but after looking at my other metrics I quickly realized people still ‘liked’ my content they just didn’t feel a need to ‘like’ it. I started really using my other metrics to analyze what content my audience was enjoying most and it’s been great. I love not being able to see likes and feel my content has only gotten better because of it. The next step will be for brands to realize that ‘like’ numbers don’t matter but I think that will be happening sooner rather than later.”

Should Instagram Consider Hiding Likes as an Optional Feature?

Many argue that this should be an optional setting that each person should have control over. Don’t want others to see your numbers? Click a button. Want them to remain? Click a button. It seems that giving users control over their own accounts would be beneficial to those people who rely on social media as part or all of their income source.

Instagram Isn’t the Only Platform Hiding Likes

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. Twitter and YouTube have both experimented with hiding certain engagement metrics. Facebook has also been testing hidden likes in Australia. “We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”

What does this mean for the future of these very popular social platforms, specifically as they relate to social influencers? Tell me your thoughts below.

It's official! Instagram will start hiding likes in the US as early as next week! Click to find out how I think it will affect influencers.

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18 COMMENTS

  • Julia Stege

    Thanks for researching and sharing this. Instagram is really frustrating to me. When I started I just put up a few photos of a project I was working on and got 1000 followers. Then they changed the algorithm and the more I post now, and I’m posting paintings that get a lot of Likes on facebook, my following stinks. This may make me want to use it even less!

    • Heather Castillo
      AUTHOR

      Instagram has definitely changed over the years.I think part of why they are hiding likes is so that people get back to appreciating the photos vs. worrying about how many likes their pictures get.

  • Charnita

    I’m am an Influencer, and I’m happy about this. It’s about time that the world stops focusing on likes. Instagram has become one big popularity contest, and this should hopefully stop that (or at least, lessen it).

    • Heather Castillo
      AUTHOR

      You may be the first person I’ve heard say this, Charnita. It’s nice to hear a positive outlook on the changes!

  • Matt Taylor

    I guess for me the more important metric on Instagram is how many followers I am getting. Although it is depressing when my number of likes is high for one image and then super low on another, etc. It could be a good thing. We shall see! haha

  • joy

    I definitely have concerns with Instagram hiding likes. I hope the positive result is less people buying likes.

  • katrina Kroeplin

    it may be difficult to get campaigns as we will have to always be sending analytics to companies. It just makes it so much hard on us. not really sure if i like all of this. not much we can do i guess.

    • Heather Castillo
      AUTHOR

      I think we’ll adjust (companies included)… it’s just the transition that will be tricky.

  • Steph S

    Likes are just a vanity metric! I scroll down and like nearly every post without much of a thoughts now comments and follows (real follows) are what really matters!

  • Dominique Brooks

    I think it won’t affect people who have large followings. Folks with smaller followings will have to make more of an effort to stay at a constant level. My Instagram is so confusing at this point — it can’t get any more challenging LOL

  • Urika

    This is very informative. It makes me think that it would really not be the worst thing if Instagram were to implement this change. I see their point of doing this to promote more organic connections.

  • Ave

    I think it’s a good idea. Let’s see how it affects our metrics but in general, I prefer that people engage with the content they really find interesting not just with the photos that have a higher number of likes.

    • Heather Castillo
      AUTHOR

      I think that’s what they are trying to accomplish with this.

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    Wow, this was an interesting drop on the focus of IG Likes. So many have complained and hope they do away with IG Likes in general. Curious to see how it goes this week. Thanks for the update and your stance on this.

  • Ronnie

    Honestly I’m still having a tough time understanding the actual reasoning behind this. I guess will time will tell if it’s beneficial to the platform or not.

  • Rosey

    It’s harder to gauge what material readers appreciate without the likes. I’m surprised they’ll be doing this, actually.

  • Melanie williams

    Oh wow this is a game changer for people. I am not on insta, but feel sorry for people when the goal posts are forever changing x

  • May

    The news surprised me so much. I couldn’t even think, that Instagram hides likes. Although, in my opinion, such aspects are important for bloggers or celebrities.

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