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.
“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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.