Reactions to the test of hiding Instagram likes is so diverse that we can’t decide whether this move will benefit the user experience or will ruin it. As believed by Guy Kawasaki, the chief evangelist of Apple Macintosh, economically, this move is a double-edged sword for Instagram, as likes and getting approval is the main reason users come back to the platform again and again.
Economic implications aside, many are discussing the psychological impacts of hiding Instagram likes on the mental well being of its users. The number of likes being the most powerful indicator of a content’s quality among users, if done away, will lead to a significant change in the Instagrammers’ behaviors. However, Instagram claims that this change is for good; it will boost the mental health condition of users and leave them more space to self-express without the fear of being evaluated based on the number of likes their posts receive.
A like-less Instagram, however, might lead to lower user engagement. After all, this is the dopamine released through like-related satisfaction that grants an addictive experience to Instagram users. Dopamine is a substance released in your body when you have a good feeling after doing joyful things such as working out, having sex, eating your favorite dish, or playing your favorite game.
This move might lead to a more real content engagement on the side of the users. As an Instagram user, I, personally and unconsciously, tend to follow the pages that have more followers and also like the posts that have been liked the most. This might have nothing to do with the quality of the content or the feeling it creates in me, but psychologically, it is a reaction to when I see most of the people are doing the same thing, and I want to prevent myself from falling behind with the trend.
This fact causes a lot of stress and anxiety for content creators on Instagram. Overthinking the number of likes and views their photos and videos will receive before they even create the content, might stop many creators from expressing what they mean in their posts. This form of self-suppression and prevention might lead to suppressed feelings, and the result will be an unexplained source of anger, which might be controlled by hiding Instagram likes.
Besides, comparing the number of likes one receives with the likes their peers get on their posts has developed Instagram to become a competitive platform for attention rather than being a simple platform to share the memory with family and friends. This fact has all in all erased the comfort users used to feel with the platform just a few years ago. Shall the change bring the ease of the past back to Instagram?
From an Influencer’s point of view, hiding Instagram likes count might hurt the businesses. However, the impact might be temporary, and users will find other ways to evaluate a post’s quality and popularity, rather than with likes they receive. Moreover, the Insight and Analytics tools are still there in the backstage, so business owners can use the data to monitor the rates of their posts to boost their user engagement.
Right now, the number of likes is not an indicator of a post’s quality, solely. If you go to Insight section of your Instagram business account, there, you will see how other factors such as conversions, profile visits and follows play even much more critical roles in your business growth than the number of likes. So, businesses and Influencers might find the change even blessing when they see real results of their followers.
Hiding Instagram likes is a significant turning point for the platform and is being tested in a limited number of regions, starting in Canada. The change is so substantial that nobody can predict what will happen after it is actually rolled out. Till then, Instagrammers can only sit and watch, while planning for other strategies to re-shape their like-count-related popularity and authenticity.