Hiding Instagram likes: yes or no?
A month ago, Instagram announced starting a test in Canada to hide the public like counts from photos and videos. Followers would not be able to see the total likes in their feed, permalinked pages, and on profiles. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram said “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram, and spend a bit more time connecting with the people they care about…We don’t want Instagram to feel like a competition, we want to make it a less pressurized environment.”
My reaction was pretty mixed at first, just like the majority of people who couldn’t decide whether this change would be great or terrifying. My mind went a little like “Oh wow, this can be awesome news. This is just like Instagram stories. Others cannot see how much engagement the poster received for their stories. People can post more about what they truly enjoy and like as opposed to what they think others would like to see, and those posts generally do better too” to “how would this change for Instagram influencers and online business owners? Would it hurt some while help others? Like bloggers who own their own website and choose to send their one-page media kit to brands, I guess it could be something similar in this case, too.”
My follower count has fluctuated a lot lately and my engagement hasn’t been quite the best. It can be disheartening, but thinking about it closely now, I just ask myself why? Does me getting 200 likes on one photo make me better than another person who gets 50 likes? Not at all. Does more likes and followers mean more loyal, committed, real supporters? No, so why get overly bothered? When we measure our self-worth or look to social media to validate ourselves, that’s when we need a break and evaluate just what we are prioritizing and if it’s helping us to reach any of our goals in any way.
One day, I’d have a 20+ gain in followers, over the next days, it’d be -10, -3, -5, and so on. Some photos went from over 200 likes to half of that. I actually allowed myself to get down about that? I actually let my self-esteem take a hit? Sylvia, come on. If people aren’t engaging with my content or enjoying it, it’s actually a good thing for them to leave and for us to all move on. There is nothing to be sad about. I’m okay with the fact that they decided to leave, to not just be an additional number on my count and to leave room for those who actually want to see my content. I’m beyond grateful for the ones who do care and want best for me, because I honestly want the same. I want to be the best me so that I can continue to share the best content that is of value to me and content others truly like or can feel inspired by.
Removing likes can motivate people to proactively comment on photos rather than just double tapping and liking images. Leaving genuine comments that can spark conversation has the ability to create stronger, authentic connections. That’s great, right? I truly value those who spend the extra minute to write a comment that promotes conversation.
On the brand partnerships front, some would wonder if it’d then be too difficult to justify and measure. While likes may be the highest valued factor, brands will need to get creative in what metrics would be of meaning–would it be post reach, impressions, or the amount of post saves (saves anonymously–posts individuals decide to keep in their collection to view again later).
Personally, with all of this in mind, I still believe this would be a positive change for Instagram. It would potentially eliminate pressure for some to not post pictures from their last trip in fear of it not performing well because their followers won’t like it, or people not liking that photo of that beautiful, cozy coffee shop that you think was so aesthetically pleasing. Instagram stories’ metrics aren’t public either, and regular Instagram users, influencers and brands alike use them frequently to engage with others.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): I believe it’d be a pretty neat Instagram feature if Instagram were to remove everyone’s public like counts. I think it could help remove pressure and anxiety for posts to reach a certain number of people or to get a certain range of likes for influencers and aspiring influencers. I definitely believe when people post content they themselves truly love, the posts radiate more authenticity, and the confidence and joy factors shine through allowing for the posts to naturally gain more traction. I dig it.
As always, I’m curious and would love to know your thoughts. What is your take on this whole Instagram likes debate – for it, against it or indifferent?