Hey Instagram, leave those likes alone!

This post was originally written for and published by House 21 during the summer. I have updated it Nov 2019.

Recently Instagram has made the move towards removing likes and video views. It has been piloted in several countries and there has been a mixed reaction from the Instagram community. Instagram’s explanation for this is that it wants users to focus more on the content, enjoying others pictures as opposed to the amount of likes or views a post gets. It has described the change as a test emphasising that they want to promote well being for their platforms users. They hope it will remove the ‘pressure’ to get likes. So that can only be a good thing right?

No likey, no lighty?

Personally I have mixed feelings on the subject. I couldn’t care less personally whether you can see my likes or not. I can see the reasoning for promoting positive wellbeing and that it’s an honourable motive but I can help but wonder if Instagram actually has a hidden agenda here. I mean users will still be able to view their own likes so they will be able to judge if they feel a post is doing well. If that is the case then no I don’t agree with removing likes. Let me explain a little more below.

I do love a good theory!

Up until a few months ago I didn’t know that there were algorithms to do with social media sites, that some people used robots to get likes and I had never even heard of an influencer. In fact my Instagram was occasionally used but I didn’t really understand it. Rewind to Sept 2018 and in my bid to battle post natal depression I set up an Instagram as a hobby. It was to be my therapy. There are a wonderful insta community on there and I have made some genuine friends from all over the world. Some of the lovely people I connected with were more clued up on this insta world. Fast forward to today and I have theories about algorithms and the reason why Instagram may really be hiding likes.

Instagram is a favourite platform for influencers and content creators. Brands can connect with influencers to offer them collaborations in exchange for gifted items or payment. This transaction takes place solely between the influencer and the brand. I suspect that Instagram can see it’s platform being successfully used to promote products. Basically advertising and they are not getting a slice of the pie. I think Instagram wants in on a piece of the action.

But why?

What has been happening is that brands review the number of likes a post has and use this to calculate a rate of engagement for the influencer. Could hiding the likes be some way of getting into the loop with the brand and the influencer? Some say this signals the end for influencers and others believe it won’t actually matter as true engagement is more than just a bunch of likes. The influencers I spoke to hoped that it would have a positive impact overall as they will be able to focus on the quality of the content they are creating as opposed to the number of likes a post would get. Although one had a concern that it would harm the way brands do business with them

I guess we will have to wait and see how this all pans out. I hope that it genuinely is to make the platform less of a competition and more about enjoying each others post. However, the sceptical part of me believes that Instagram is a business. It had a strategy and businesses aim to make money. I think someone has seen an untapped market here and are trying to find a way to get into it. If that’s the master plan then no likes should not be hidden.

Update

Since I wrote this post over the summer they have extended the hiding of likes and are currently testing it in the UK. I am one of the people it is being trialled on. I can’t say it makes any difference to me whatsoever but there are 2 things I have noticed.

1. Instagram isn’t completely hiding the amounts of likes. Where likes amounts are it simply says others or thousands of others. so I’m curious why the need for that. Some people will still be comparing themselves to that instead.

2. You can actually click onto others and manually see how many likes a person has. So in fact likes are not really hidden at all.

Let’s face it. If Instagram really cared about your mental health and wellbeing they would ditch the algorithm and go back to chronological order.

Love and peace xx