Instagram is Currently Running a Test in the U.S. That Hides Likes
On Friday, November 8th, Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri made the announcement at the WIRED25 conference that the social media platform would be testing out hiding Likes for some users in the United States. Canada was the first country that Instagram ran this test in, but it in Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and Australia, unsurprisingly landing in the U.S. this year.
In the areas that the tests have been live in, Likes are hidden on public posts. They can’t be seen on the newsfeed, on desktop, or when you visit other users’ profiles. However, users can still see the Likes on their own posts. Only other users can’t see them.
When Mosseri first announced that Instagram intended on testing hiding Likes, users expressed mixed emotions. Many praised Instagram for making an effort to make the platform healthier for users’ mental health and well-being, while others lambasted the company, expressing anger and annoyance.
However, Instagram made the decision good intentions. Mosseri explained that their goal is to make Instagram less about competition between users, creating a “healthy” environment.
“The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them,” says Mosseri. They hope that this change will encourage users to worry less about vanity numbers and focus more on creating quality content and building stronger communities.
While some view this as a welcome change, many have questioned how this will affect social media influencers, people that make their livelihood on Instagram.
While the decision to hide Likes may have been done with good intentions, there may have been an underlying reason. It has been long known that some influencers have faked their engagement rates. Whether they are buying likes or “genuine comments,” influencers continue to find ways to game the system.
Essentially, whenever influencers get higher engagement rates, they make more money. It’s no wonder why many of them would try to work around the system. Brands have put less focus on followers in recent years, partnering with accounts with as little as 10 to 15 thousand followers. These accounts tend to have much higher levels of engagement and cost less, which leads to a much higher ROI.
This change doesn’t mean followers will become an immensely important stat again, however. It is just as easy to buy followers as it is to buy likes. In fact, many companies use Auditor for Instagram to uncover if an account is using these dishonest methods.
With that being said, will Instagram hiding Likes hurt the business of influencers? The answer is more complicated than you would think.
The Effects of Hiding Likes
As we have mentioned, Instagram has been running this test in many countries throughout the world. While it’s only been a few months, and not every user has experienced it, some data is already coming to the surface for further analysis.
HypeAuditor conducted a study that included over 154k Instagram influencers that had a minimum of 30% of their followers in regions that Instagram was already running their test.
Influencers of varying levels of popularity saw their likes drop, according to the study.
Since the study only included users who had at least a minimum of 30% of users who are a part of the hidden Likes test, these results are not conclusive. However, they do shed light on the potential outcome of this test for many influencers.
Some theorize that this will lead to influencers reducing the number of posts that showcase unattainable lifestyles. Without Likes, many believe that influencers will post more genuine and authentic images.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how this will change the behavior of users on the platform. Instagram hasn’t released any information regarding these tests nor any metrics it measures. The data collected so far does imply that the total number of Likes will be reduced, especially for popular influencers.
So, if Likes go away, how will Influencers survive? Fortunately for them, the answer is already on the platform.
For many brands and influencers, the number of Likes users received on their posts was the metric that determined success. This success led to more revenue for influencers. With that metric gone, what do they turn to? Instagram Stories.
Instagram followed the same path as Snapchat by allowing users to post images and videos on their Story for others to see but only for 24 hours. As time has gone by, these Stories have evolved. Now, influencers can advertise products from brands they’ve partnered with thanks to Instagram’s new swipe up feature. This feature allows influencers to include an affiliate link that directs their audience to a brand’s website to make a purchase.
With Stories, brands can see how well a partnership is doing and accurately measure their ROI. It also makes it impossible for influencers to cheat the system like before. Everything becomes more transparent when using Stories.
How It Helps
By removing the Likes from posts, Instagram has forced users, especially influencers, to put more focus on the quality of content they post. This test makes it virtually impossible for users to cheat Instagram. While this hurts some, it helps those who aren’t using dishonest methods. However, the goal seems to drive more people to utilize Instagram Stories.
In 2018, Instagram had one billion daily active Stories users across the world. Furthermore, Instagram Stories often sees more engagement than posts, so influencers who aren’t gaming the system will be able to see greater success if they consistently post on their Stories, even if Likes remain hidden. Instagram Stories offer brands and users far more transparency when it comes to viewing insights and interactions with other users.
Brands can easily measure everything, increasing the confidence they have in their partnership. Influencers will still be able to experience great success because of the benefits Instagram Stories offers.
However, there are many who fail to see the potential benefits this change may offer. Conversely, a select few are welcoming this change, seeing how beneficial this change can be.
Kim Kardashian West went on to say, “As far as mental health, I mean it’s something that taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from it would be really beneficial for people.”
While Instagram is only testing out this change at the moment, all users, regardless of popularity, have their own opinion on the topic. Tech Critic will continue to closely watch how Instagram moves forward with this test. So, we ask our audience. How do you view this potential change? Do you understand how helpful this will be for most users? Would you be willing to welcome this change? Or do you think Instagram will regret hiding Likes from public viewing? Let us know!