In its latest bid to improve user-to-user connection and provide a “less pressurised environment” (much like the infamous Facebook Algorithm change), Instagram is conducting a trial that hides the visible number of likes on posts in Ireland.
“We hope this will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” said Facebook Australia and New Zealand policy director Mia Garlick in a statement.
While a user/account can still see the number of likes their own posts receive, their followers cannot, unless someone they follow has also liked it.
What the follower sees:
What the business sees:
How will this affect business accounts?
So far, the jury is out. Social media agencies know that a key metric of social media success has always been engagement, and likes are a key part of this.
Consumers, by nature, often “follow the herd”, in that they will like content based on the number of people who have already liked it.
This is a a practice taught by Instagram itself: likes are a popularity currency. You could argue that Instagram has helped build people and brands up only to tear them back down just as quick.
On the other hand, the change may make consumers feel more comfortable and freer to like content without pressure, ultimately improving the user experience. This, in turn, may positively impact the recent studies that show the close link between social media and depression, particularly in the UK and Ireland.
Content will now need to be as “like-worthy” as possible for that precious double click, but inevitably the shift will be to Instagram Stories, meaning more video content, which we know is the future of digital media.
Instagram has yet to share any data on how effective hiding likes has been on people’s browsing habits, but it is continuing the trial in other countries, suggesting positive results.
Aislinn is the Social & Digital Manager at PR360. Part of the studio team, her passion lies in generating brand awareness through social and digital platforms. At the weekends, you will either find her strolling blissfully around an art gallery or ripping up the dance floor to Beyoncé.