What is Instagram like with hidden likes?

Instagram’s hiding likes: is it making users happier?

Predicting the social media future is something of a competitive sport (with participants usually prophesizing varying degrees of doom). But is there is something lighter and less gloomy on the horizon? The business mag Forbes recently went early with some bold forecasts for 2020. Number one – that following trials in 7 countries Instagram likes will officially be removed, worldwide. Why hide the very metrics that social media itself invented? It is, Instagram claims, an attempt to address widespread unease about the effect the app has on our happiness. Launching the trial down under Mia Garlick from Facebook Australia said, “we hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.” So does it work and how does it affect the Instagram experience?

Removing Instagram likes

Instagram started to hide likes for some users in Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and Italy in July.

So for several months now, many thousands of people have been learning what it’s like to have no visible likes on their posts. The likes are still there. You can still like and be liked. But you can’t see the number of likes a post has received unless it’s your own.

I’ve connected with Instagrammers in Australia and Ireland to find out how it’s going.

First to Perth, Australia.

@Katherinedorrington 

Katherine – Freelance photographer, and floral stylist 

“The freedom of having that number taken away is really a great thing for creativity.”

Katherine, who has 106k followers on her gorgeous floral account, admits that she was unsure about the change, “I was concerned that people would not bother liking posts, and I was a bit suspicious about why Instagram had decided to run this test.”

However, from a creative point of view, the idea appealed to her “I really liked the concept of not being able to see likes. I have a business/creator account so I know that I would be able to see the metrics on my posts but I felt a sense of freedom about being able to post something and not overthinking whether it would be popular or not.”

Does it affect engagement?

Katherine says “I’ve definitely seen a drop in likes on my posts since the test began. I haven’t significantly changed what or when I’m posting and the drop in likes has coincided with the testing period. However, I haven’t noticed a drop in comments and my community is certainly still active in liking and commenting.”

As for her own engagements with other people’s content, “it hasn’t affected how much I engage with accounts I follow that I have a relationship with. What I have found is that I’m less likely to like posts from brands or large accounts that I have no personal connection with.”

She would like an opt-in on no likes

“Overall I feel that it makes Instagram better for me. The freedom of having that number taken away is really a great thing for creativity. However, from a professional perspective, it makes it difficult to see how you compare with similar businesses or accounts. I’d love an opt-in option for this feature.”

Click to visit Katherine’s website Foraged and collected.

If you are interested in this post, you might like this one too, will Instagram hiding likes make us happier?

And so from Perth to Melbourne.

@coffeepaperyarn

Melisa – coffee, crochet, and nature lover

“I won’t mind if the likes never come back.”

Melisa is the creator of another beautiful account, run for pleasure, not business – to celebrate all that she loves. She hasn’t been able to compare likes since July, and was also apprehensive about the trial, “but I decided to ride with the wave, continue using Instagram as I always had and see what happened.”

Lots to like

“To be honest, I had expected likes to drop significantly. To my surprise, they have stayed at the same level or increased slightly. I have been on Instagram for 7 years, so I have a good feeling for how my photos will be received and which ones will do better than others. Removing visible likes hasn’t really had an impact. In terms of engagement, I think it has improved.”

If anything, Melisa says she’s now working harder herself to engage “I feel that I need to make sure others know that I still enjoy their feed. So while I still actively hit that little heart, I am most certainly commenting more when I have the time. I’ve made some lovely new connections, and deepened some older friendships.”

Freedom

She thinks it’s a big positive that she can no longer see how many likes others are getting, “the focus on numbers and easy comparison has been visibly removed for me, and with that comes more freedom. Even though I had tried not to compare myself to big accounts with huge numbers of likes on every photo, the reality is, sometimes I did.”

“Overall. It’s a good thing. For me. I won’t mind if the likes never come back.”

And then to Dublin.

@thestylecoop

Terri – stylist and creative consultant

“We are just focusing on the quality of the content”

Terri says that she was unconcerned when the likes disappeared from her posts because “I’m really using my page as a CV for styling creative work so the content was most important, not the number of likes.”

However, everyone likes to be liked, and she did think that it would affect the number of people who double tapped on her image “I thought that would be the case but, actually there has been no change.”

Content first

Terri is styling and creating Instagram posts with a business start-up that was concerned about likes disappearing. So, she says they have changed their approach “we are just focusing on the quality of their content. And they are getting a lot of interest from customers regardless, as the quality of their pictures, Stories, and narrative has improved. Removing likes has been a positive move.”

Overall, she says it is “definitely a good thing. It has removed the comparison element with is especially dangerous amongst the very young. I am actually enjoying not seeing anyone else’s likes so subconsciously it must have some effect.”

Comparisonitis cured?

The two things that I will take away from these conversations are that, although we rarely welcome change, we get used to it very quickly. And that the biggest benefit of removing like counts for users seems to be no longer seeing the numbers that other accounts are getting. Comparisonitis cured? Perhaps partly.

Facebook recently confirmed that it is trialing the same change (click to read more here).

So, over to you, does this change how you feel about a future without likes on your posts? Are you apprehensive about the idea or ready to welcome it with open arms? Comment in the box down there 👇 I love to chat.

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2 comments on “Instagram’s hiding likes: is it making users happier?

    • Helen on

      Hey Mackenzie, no they’ll all still be visible, it’s only the total count number of likes that is hidden. If you were so inclined you could count the list of people who’ve liked a post. Interesting that 2 of the 3 people I spoke to said it has led to no change on the number of likes they are getting…I assumed it would. Thanks for reading! Hx

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