Will a social media post be as interesting if you cannot see the number of likes it has received? Will sharing content be as fun and exciting if details about the followers who clicked the like button are hidden? These are surely questions that Instagram wants to answer due to the recent news that the social media giant is including more countries in the ongoing test to see the effects of hiding likes.
According to reports, the social media platform with over a billion users started hiding likes in April this year. In this Instagram experiment, users can still like a post but the like counts can only be viewed by the owner of the account itself. Instagram began this test in Canada then continued with six more countries. Namely; New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, Australia, and Italy.
The experiment is not in any way concluded, as the CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosser just announced during the Wired25 conference held in San Francisco last November, that the test is now gearing up to include users from the US just before this month ends. With stats saying that more than 500 million people are using the site every day, this update is surely big news. The following text attempts to provide information as to the reasons behind this move and the impacts that this possible change may bring:
Why does Instagram want to hide likes?
As they say, “there is strength in numbers,” and social media is a perfect place to prove this universal truth. In social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, success is measured by the number of likes, comments, and shares. More than a place for sharing and communicating, social media has become a place for seeking recognition and approval. The delight of seeing the number of likes in your Instagram post climbing up is one of the reasons why social media is addictive. However, while a high number of likes presents vast benefits for brands and individuals alike, the obsession to get more people to click that thumbs up button leads to many problems as well.
A study done by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement (YHM) showed that Instagram is one of the reasons for the mental health issues of young people today. This research does not seem to sit well with the people behind Instagram. The social media platform began to contemplate the possibility of hiding likes for the welfare and benefit of their users. According to Instagram CEO, Mosseri, the reason for the test is to ensure that the usage of Instagram leads to more happiness than distress. According to Mosseri, “We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health…it means we’re going to put a 15-year-old kid’s interests before a public speaker’s interest.”
Possible effects of an Instagram with hidden likes.
As people foresee a future of a social media feed with no information about the number of likes, people also start wondering if this possibility is a good or bad thing:
- Lessen stress and competition. People are assuming that hidden like counts will make Instagram a less stressful online platform. It will eliminate the anxiety and embarrassment you can get from a post with a few likes. Therefore, being on Instagram will no longer feel like a competition.
- More and better content. With no like counts to see as a gauge to measure the quality of a post, more users may feel encouraged to share content. Moreover, since like counts are not visible, people’s attention shifts to the content itself. The shift may lead to creating better content. This may also put an end to the practice of buying likes just to appear more credible.
- Higher engagement and profits. Hiding like counts diminish its power to connect to brands and influencers. Thus, instead of hitting likes, it may urge followers to perform actions that will help a brand reach goals such as sending direct messages. This will lead to higher engagement and hopefully better profits.
- No more influencer marketing. For Instagram influencers, their power to convince and inspire increases with the number of likes they get. Ultimately, less exposure may lead to lost revenue. Thus, many are speculating that hiding likes will mark the end of influencer marketing.
Everybody is abuzz about this move from Instagram. The result of the experiment may alter the way people view and use social media. The most we can do is hope that this will support Instagram’s aim of providing the best user experience.
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