In what may be a major blow to Instagram influencers and businesses that rely on social media, Instagram is testing hiding like counts from posts.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, “As you scroll through your feed, there are no like counts. You can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself.” So while you can still see your own like count, you won’t be able to see others. The new system is currently being tested in Canada. If you’re part of the test, you will see a banner at the top of your feed with some information.
The goal of this change is to shift Instagram’s focus from likes to engagement. Zuckerberg said, “We want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”
It’s unclear right now how the like-hiding will affect brands. Like counts are an easy way for brands to determine which influencers they want to work with, and hiding likes will make that much more difficult. Since brands place more emphasis on reach than follower numbers, being unable to view likes will make it hard to determine the scope of an influencer’s audience.
Lia Haberman, former VP of Audience Development at Livestrong, said, “This will likely increase the amount of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.”
When it comes to businesses, Mel Brittner, the social media strategist at Later, believes they must now get more creative. “Likes were always a false currency,” she said, “but an easy number to give when asked how content is performing and an easy way to compare, so I think this shift forces businesses to look at what’s actually working.”
Some are excited about the shift toward more engagement-based, authentic content and believe it will give everyone a much-needed mental health break. Health and wellness influencer Dave Coast explains that “influencers and users will be more willing to post more artsy/cool/different content if likes are hidden.”