Instagram's magical disappearing act: What the removal of the likes-counter means for you
Wait… what happened?
The world came crashing down today – well, at least for some – as social media giant Instagram, rolled out an Australian trial that hides the number of likes from users. Instagram users in Australia will no longer be able to see how many likes a post receives in an effort to ‘remove pressure’.
Users will still be able to see how many likes their own photos and videos get, however they will not be able to see these details on other users posts in their feed, profiles or permalink pages.
Ok, but why?
Social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram have sparked worldwide criticism for their negative impact on mental health, with experts and educators suggesting that the ‘race for likes’ is leading to lower self-esteem, fewer real connections, and decreased happiness.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has rolled this trial out to encourage users of their platform to be more authentic in their posting and liking habits, and to feel comfortable expressing themselves. They want users to post the content they want to post, not the content they think will get them the most likes.
“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” says Facebook Australia and New Zealand Director of policy, Mia Garlick.
“We are now rolling the test out to Australia so we can learn more about how this can benefit people’s experiences on Instagram, and whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”
Instagram official tweet outlining their decision
This trial is also an interesting experiment into post engagement. We often see that posts that see great initial success snowball into greater engagement. By removing the likes-counter on posts we may not see this phenomenon occur to the same extent as users won’t feel compelled to join the bandwagon and ‘like’ a post because that’s what other users are doing.
We’re living in the age of the Instagram influencer; how does this affect influencers, content creators and businesses?
The biggest concern with this new development is how it will affect business, influencers and content creators.
Instagram has assured users that the trial will not impact most content creators. It has been advised the test will not impact measurement tools such as Insights and Ads Manager, however it will mean that influencers’ and brands’ followers won’t be able to see how many likes their posts are getting.
So, while influencers will still be able to see their own post’s likes, the brands they are working with will not. This means brands will have a more difficult time identifying the influencers they want to work with and measuring the value of their influencer programs. Also, brands that pay their influencers based on post engagement may need to shift their attention to other metrics such as follower count or comments. Ultimately, if this trial is launched worldwide it will mean a fundamental shift in the way content creators analyse their post performance.
This trial started in May in Canada and it was unclear if the trial would be rolled out more broadly. A spokesperson for Instagram has said they are excited by early results of the Canadian trial, and they are looking forward to learning more from the global community. Today it was announced that the trial will be rolled out to six more countries: Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Australia is the second country to be involved in the trial and we were chosen due to our fast-growing, highly engaged community of millions of Instagram users and a tech-savvy audience.
Instagram official tweet outlining the countries affected by the trial
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