If you’ve missed the mass discussion on Twitter, Instagram has started rolling out a trial run of hiding likes on Instagram in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand this week:
We’re currently running a test that hides the total number of likes and video views for some people in the following countries:
✅ New Zealand pic.twitter.com/2OdzpIUBka
— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
It’s been getting talked about for a while – and divided opinions at the same time. Instagram has said that they “want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get”. Sounds good, but will it actually work like that? Or be beneficial in any way?
I’ve seen quite a few people on my Twitter timeline feeling a bit miffed at the though of it becoming a permanent feature on the app, though my feed is made up of approx. 99% bloggers and influencers so that kind of skews the information a little bit. There’s arguments about whether or not it’ll help with mental wellbeing, content quality and collaboration opportunities, but at this point in time, it doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what benefits or drawbacks the move will have. So, here’s my take on it!
FIRST OFF: just for any confusion about this whole “removing likes” thing: from what I can gather (as of July 2019), Instagram is planning on preventing people from viewing how many likes your photos and videos get. People can still opt to like them, and you yourself can view how many likes you receive, but you cannot view likes that others have gained.
I have two separate Instagram accounts (as I’ve spoken about before!): one for the blog, and one for personal use. I’m not fussed about the proposal to remove likes when it comes to the personal one, because I just like to post on there no matter what it is I’m posting about. But on my blog Insta, it’s a little different. Admittedly, I’ve switched from abandoning it to being obsessed with it more times than I can recall. But I do still think a lot about the content I put on there, and I actively try not to just post any old thing on there. I’d love to up my game, but I’m genuinely just too self-conscious to do the typical pretty blogger ‘gram photos, so…
One of the reasons I switch off so easily from that account is because I’m incredibly bad for looking to what everyone else is doing (exhibit A just up there in that last line!). I see people who are doing incredibly well for themselves in blogging, getting regular collabs, posting amazing photos, and as much as I love taking in their content, it also throws me off my own thing because I’m like “oh God, I’m rubbish”. And when I post a photo and get below 100 likes, I feel like a total failure. Before I gave up the last time, I was getting between 200 and 300 likes a post, and I guess I figured that would remain despite my months-long silence. Not quite the case. I know you get out what you put in, but because of that, I actually felt quite good about the thought of not knowing how many likes everyone else gets. It might stop me from being distracted by how well everyone else is doing, and therefore keep me from being so hard on myself and giving up so easily.
Of course, the issue people have with this is the fact that you can still see how many likes you get yourself. If you’re feeling bad about your engagement levels, then it doesn’t really do much to combat that. And what’s more, if emphasis is taken away from likes, then people might not feel the need to continue to actually “like” content – meaning further drops in engagement. Hmm.
From a blogger/influencer point of view, there also seems to be a concern about the increased risk of fakery – that is, individuals choosing to purchase followers. Currently, it’s pretty easy to catch this out based on how many followers someone has vs. how much engagement their posts get. Although, in saying that, Instagram messing about with their algorithms for a while has meant my follower vs engagement levels have been suffering for the last year anyway… so perhaps this isn’t as big an issue in the first place? Purchasing followers is something that’s been happening for quite some time, so I don’t think this would impact it much. Well, hopefully not anyway!
When it comes to securing opportunities with brands, it’s already pretty difficult – so we can only hope that people won’t take advantage of the ability to slightly twist the truth when they’re approached. Instagram has also stated that “for businesses and creators on Instagram, this test will not affect measurement tools like Insights or Ads Manager”. I’m sure many serious businesses make use of platforms and do their research before reaching out to influencers, so I suppose we’ll see how that turns out. Stay honest pls!
Personally, I thought the idea was a bit pointless. But after properly considering it, I feel like I’m starting to come around to it and actually kind of welcome it. Partly, yes, because I don’t exactly have likes to flaunt, and maybe if I knew people couldn’t tell how well it was performing, I’d retain motivation and inspiration and actually post some decent things (!). But when it comes to Instagram’s claims that they’re making the move in a bid to remove pressure on mental health – well, it doesn’t really do much, does it? You’ll still be able to see the number, and there’s still the opportunity to feel the pressure. As for the business side of things, we’ll just have to wait and see what effect it’ll truly have. Maybe it’ll end up becoming easier for content creators!
I’m still somewhat split – how do you feel about it? Let me know down below!