The last 6 months on Instagram have been somewhat interesting since the platform started hiding likes in Australia (back in July). This then expanded to Canada, Ireland, Japan, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Most recently, the platform started hiding likes globally, with only profile owners being able to see their own numbers.
Is Instagram really doing this for our own good? What are the other motivations behind this?
Why are Instagram hiding likes?
Instagram CEO Adam Moressi announced the hiding of likes at Wired25 Summit. He explained that anxiety and social pressures that come from the app are becoming more acute (particularly with young people). The hiding of likes is an effort to for them to lessen the impact on mental health.
Every day, 500 million people check their Instagram over and over again, and there’s a reason. As we’re a social species, we’ve evolved to crave social rewards. We can’t help measuring ourselves against our peers, so statistics such as follower numbers and likes become more and more meaningful.
Excessive social media use can lead to sleep disruption, productivity loss and interpersonal conflicts. Hiding likes just means we won’t have a number to compare ourselves to, such as with banking. Can you imagine what it would be like if we could see everyone else’s balances? Think of your likes as your account balance, it’s nobody’s business but yours and the bank’s (in this case, Instagram).
What else could be behind this?
In the last year, Instagram stories have surpassed the Instagram feed in terms of usage. Over 50% of Instagram users are just using the stories function – which doesn’t have any like numbers to measure against. This is an indication of how users want to consume the platform moving forward. We think this is what really sparked Instagram to look into removing likes on the feed, so users can engage with feed content just the same as stories content.
Steve Barlett, from the Social Chain, has an interesting argument on this too. His thoughts are that with likes hidden, we will be more willing to post more content more often. With people posting more frequently, Instagram can then sell more advertising space in between the organic content. After all, Instagram is primarily a money-making business.
We’d love to hear from you and your thoughts on this. Please do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk more about the future of social media marketing!