Every time Instagram announces a new feature or some beta testing, you can bet that it will cause a stir. And that the internet (mostly Twitter, actually) will lose it. Funny how anything Instagram related always ends up being debated on Twitter. This time is no different of course and it is about hiding likes. Is it a good idea however? Will it improve user experience?
As far as I am concerned, I am standing neutral. It can be a good idea, sure. It can also be a terrible idea. Why? Because, as mentioned in an older blog post on Instagram, the main reason why the app isn’t such a good place at the moment, is not Instagram itself. No. The main reason why the app is no longer just as pleasant is because of what users do of it…
…to get ahead of the game.
Let me rephrase. Instagram is partly responsible for what the app has become. But users are to blame just as much… I am afraid, hiding likes could go either way, for that very reason! Let me explain.
Instagram hiding likes is a good idea if…
- Instagram works on their algorithm too. Engagement remains a key criterium, but not the main one. Likes no longer determines whether photos get seen or not.
- Instagram hides likes for everyone. People seeing the content on their feed, as well as those posting it. Otherwise what’s the point?
- Hiding likes pushes people to consider content above popularity when engaging with post. They do not like content because it already got high engagement but because the quality is amazing, the image stunning, the caption relatable, etc.
- Brands do due diligence when scouting influencers. They check growth pace, following and unfollow patterns, quality of comments, quality of content, etc. There are already plenty of tools available to brands to help vetting influencers.
- Brands take into consideration different criteria before deciding to work with an influencer. Follower count will always be one, but it should not be the main or the only one. Others such as content quality, comments, feed consistency, interactions with other users should also be considered, and help gauge whether the audience is truly engaged.
- If the algorithm changes as well, hiding likes might encourage people to become more creative. People might go back to create content that is personal to them, they absolutely love and enjoyed creating, without worrying about whether it’s gonna get a lot of likes.
- If users play fair and square. Why buy likes if no one can see your follower count?
Instagram hiding likes isn’t a good idea if…
- Hiding likes is just targeted at followers, influencers can still see their likes count and are disheartened when seeing low engagement, due to the following point.
- People engage less assuming that it does not matter anymore.
- Brands are lazy. They do not do due diligence on influencers and end up working with influencers with fake followers.
- Brands decide to base worth and collaborations solely on follower counts. Back to square one then. We’re back into the race to growth and higher follower counts, making it all about followers again.
- The later fuels fake followers and bots buying. Hidden like will make it harder to calculate engagement and detect inorganic following.
- Users can’t see likes and likes still do determine whether your photos appears on people’s feed, that might fuel likes buying… that will probably go undetected.
- The algorithm still mostly relies on engagement to make its calculations. People still feel shit about bad engagement, are desperate. Some will buy into dodgy tactics to fix that or just get ahead. Other will see their mental health worsen because, once again, something they spent time creating, is not getting engagement.
I do think hiding likes can go either way. I think hiding like as sole change to the platform can only be a terrible idea. Especially if users can still see their own engagement and that people engage less, assuming likes does not matter anymore.
I think the only way to come this new feature successful is to change how the algorithm works at the same time, i.e. not basing calculations solely on engagement. Otherwise, I do not think it will have any good impact on the app for all the reasons mentioned above.
If hiding likes do indeed go ahead, what it will make of the the app will mainly depend on what people will make of it. Whether they play fair and square… or not.
What about you? What do you think about Instagram hiding likes? Is it a good idea? Or is it not? Do you think it will improve user experience? Or not at all?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
See you soon,