The news of Instagram testing out hiding “likes” has sparked conversations both on and offline.
At Facebook’s annual conference on Tuesday, Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — announced it is testing a new feature called “private like counts,” which publicly hides the number of “likes” a photo or video has received.
Only the owner of the content can see how many people “liked” their photo or video, and no “likes” will be seen in social feeds.
For influencers who use Instagram to connect with thousands or millions of followers, “likes” are an important aspect of their job. The number of double taps a photo receives helps them to determine how engaged followers are and also helps brands, who often pay influencers to promote their products, gauge how popular an account is.
So what does it mean for influencers if Instagram suddenly hides all public “likes”? Global News asked Canadian influencers what they think, and if keeping their “likes” private is a good or bad thing for business.
@itsminagerges, 104k followers
“Honestly, I think that hiding ‘likes’ is the best update Instagram has come up with in a long time. I think Instagram started as an amazing platform where people (could) be creative and share their perspectives, but then things like ‘likes’ and ‘feed aesthetics’ took over and genuinely ruined the platform.
“There was a point in my online career when I was getting, on average, 20,000 ‘likes’ and sometimes 40,000 to 60,000 ‘likes’ on a photo. I don’t get that anymore, and it’s forced me to place value in something more authentic than the number of likes or the comments. (For example, I used to make memes that got 50,000 ‘likes.’)
“Now, I talk about body image and share experiences that actually impact people in a positive way. They don’t get as many ‘likes,’ but they contribute to very important societal conversations and positively impact people — and that’s exponentially more important to me than the number of ‘likes’ a post gets.”
@bijuleni, 30k followers
“I do love the idea behind it and how it will help to take away the focus from how many ‘likes’ each photo receives; people can post photos without stressing over how many people will ‘like’ their photo.
“Nevertheless, as someone that makes a living based on my Instagram engagement numbers and audience analytics, it is a bit concerning as to how it will affect influencer compensation when working with brands.”
@mr.benfield, 80.4k followers
“I actually think it’s the best idea that Instagram’s put forward in a long time. Sometimes, it feels like a piece of content on Instagram is now only as good as the amount of engagements it gets. And for a social networking app that prides itself on the creativity of its users, that’s the complete opposite of what should be happening. This app should be about high-quality content that inspires, uplifts, motivates or brings awareness. Everything else to that core idea is secondary — including the amount of ‘likes’ a specific post gets.
“Contrary to what people might think, I actually think (hiding ‘likes’) would vastly increase my opportunities for business and brand partnerships. Brands would have to take a look at the actual content that creators are putting out there to determine best fits for campaigns, rather than just basing decisions on metrics.
In addition, this would hopefully decrease the amount of posts on the platform just vying for ‘likes’ — like ‘thirst traps,’ for example — opening up more opportunities for brands to work with me. If quality content is the focus, then that’s where brands are going to gravitate towards.”
@theaugustdiaries, 109k followers
“It’s a refreshing move from Instagram. We’re seeing social media platforms purposefully moving away from the idea that a number of ‘likes’ is equal to how much a person is liked. I hope following this transition, people find other (perhaps more introspective) ways of deriving their self-worth.
“On the influencer side, (hiding ‘likes’) tackles issues such as users competing for — and even buying — ‘likes.’ The focus will, hopefully, be simpler: creating quality content. The next five years of social media are going to see a huge emphasis on privacy, and I think this is just the beginning.
“As long as you can see your analytics, I don’t see how (hiding ‘likes’) would affect business opportunities. I think the hope is that people now ‘like’ content for what it is and not for any analytical reason. And I can’t see Instagram taking away analytics because so many people rely on it for business.”
@jessundecided, 56.4k followers
“I create my work for my audience to relate to, be inspired by and engage with. I would hope my audience doesn’t take into consideration about how many ‘likes’ each post gets because it should be my work itself that drives them to ‘like’ or comment on something.
“However, I can see how numbers could potentially sway someone to ‘like’/not ‘like.’ That’s why I am actually kind of excited to see how not having the number of ‘likes’ show on a picture will play out. (I might regret saying that in a month, but you never know until you try, right?)
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“From a business perspective, I don’t think (hiding public ‘likes’) will affect opportunities because all the brands I work with ask for my media kit and see all my stats that way so the number of ‘likes’ shouldn’t matter to them. It might even help because there are so many ‘fake likes’ around now, too!”
@kootzcollective, 5,407 followers
“We have a modest 5k+ following in a very niche market. We sell apparel and act as unofficial ambassadors and influencers for the Kootenay region in B.C. Are we glued to our phones? Yes. Of course.
“If this ‘likes and follower count ban’ did, indeed, happen, it would be the most extreme and insightful social experiment of this generation.
If you know what you’re doing as an influencer and are running a social page that is true to you, creative, with original content, the ‘likes’ shouldn’t matter. There are other ways to track data and make connections. It would be great to see what creative alternatives would emerge.
“A universal social popularity detox may just be what we all need.”