It’s no secret that Instagram has been experimenting* with likes for a while. More recently, the ‘hiding’ of them altogether. It’s the latest in a series of attempts to ease the pressure around like counts. But what does this mean for our creators?
Let’s start by defining what it means.
Should you choose to hide your likes (yes, it’s optional), you will always be able to keep seeing your like count as the owner of the account. You will have the same control over your content and statistics as before, and you can still perfectly tell which posts are performing well or not.
For your followers, likes will appear as ‘liked by ⌈name⌉ and others.’ But should they want to, they can still click on ‘liked by’ and see the list of accounts that liked the post. Just not the total number.
So all the function actually does, is hide a number that we’ve given way too much value over the years. It’s an opt-in way to make social media less anxiety-provoking and help improve our mental health.
Pros and cons
Although many of us instantly understood the benefits, influencers and creators were quick to point out that like count is, in fact, an essential metric for their business. They use it to negotiate deals and communicate value to brand partners.
On top of that, the removal of likes could also have a negative impact on the average engagement rate since a post with lots of likes usually attracts more attention.
Admittedly, this option does make it even more important for a creator to provide value in order to get high engagement. Hiding likes is yet another push in the direction of interaction and community building. More than ever, influencers will have to prove their influence by other KPI’s like comments, DM’s, clicks, …
The exact impact on engagement remains to be seen, but this inevitably challenges us to start looking at other – more meaningful – metrics, which is precisely what brands will do as well.
Mental health benefits
Can you imagine a world without likes? And if so, does that thought make you feel instantly happier or plain sad? In any case, the answer should tell you something about the power that likes have over our lives.
Social media’s impact on our mental wellbeing is undeniable. By giving us the option to hide likes, Instagram acknowledges the addictive nature of social media and the pressure it brings with it. Adding this level of flexibility allows us to minimize that pressure on ourselves.
It’s simply an option; it challenges you to evaluate the quality of your content and pushes you to focus more on engagement. It’s worth the consideration for your mental health.
If you notice your actual happiness being impacted by likes, then hiding likes might be a good idea for you. It may help you focus on creating content that you really like and feels good for you rather than looking for external validation.
And when it comes to your business, no worries: you will overcome and adapt, and so will brands.
*As the ‘hidden likes’ function is currently still in its testing phase, only a small set of users (worldwide) has been selected to test it. You’ll know if you’re among them if you can see the option to ‘remove likes’ in your Settings.