Instagram is gearing up to hide the “like counts”. This is something we all know. But will it make the platform more desirable? Will it result in a healthier social space?
We do need answers to the above questions, as Instagram is executing test runs in parts of Australia, Ireland, and Brazil, among other regions.
As per the popular platform, the idea behind hiding “like counts” is to give due respect to users’ well-being. It wants people to genuinely connect with their followers and the ones they follow, by exchanging stories instead of getting anxious or insecure by one another’s “like counts”.
Therefore this can be a significant step towards reducing social comparison.
Is Instagram right in citing users’ well-being?
Actually yes. As per many surveys, Instagram is one of the worst social media platforms, when it comes to the well-being of users. The quality of the feed has continuously deteriorated, and the crappiest of posts are getting thousands and thousands of likes, thanks to Russian Bots.
This fake popularity is resulting in social comparisons among users, and they are becoming prone to anxiety and depression, among other issues.
As per a study conducted by The Royal Society For Public Health in the UK, young users of Instagram are developing a despairing attitude, where they are undermining their own lives while looking at “thousands-of-likes” laden posts of other users.
Most of these young users are removing their posts and pictures out of frustration. They might even develop an anti-social behavior or low-self esteem, who knows?
If we keep all this in mind, then hiding “Like Counts” seems to be a wise step. “Likes” can be bought without breaking a sweat, therefore, “Number of likes” cannot be passed as social proof.
That being said, it’s not just “likes” that negatively influence users. Some of the posts or images themselves cause a lot of harm to a user’s well-being. But then, you can’t hide the entire platform, can you?
What are influencers saying?
For obvious reasons, Influencers aren’t welcoming the move. Let’s cut them some slack, as their business is at stake. But how will they modify their business now? This is an important question.
Currently, influencers pitch their reach to brands, by showing the number of likes they garner. This is how brands assess various influencers. Therefore, someone with millions of followers but only a few likes on his or her posts, can’t claim to be an influencer.
But with this move, the metric to assess influencers will change. Number of followers that an influencer has and the number of comments or shares his or her posts are getting will become more relevant now. This should be the way forward for influencers.
According to Laura Albertin, an influencer having more than 188,000 followers, once the “likes” are hidden, people will have to look for other alternatives for social validation, like followers, comments, and shares.
Other the other hand, there are influencers who are skeptical of the changes made. According to them, the changes will hurt the business in the long run, as brands will keep finding different yardsticks, and it will be difficult for influencers to catch up.
Is it worth the experiment?
Definitely, it is. There is no doubt that every “well-being” practitioner will be in support of this move by Instagram.
But how will it change users’ approach towards posts on their feed? By not seeing any number of likes on a post, will users feel more compelled to like it or will it be just the opposite?
If it leads to more number of likes, then for sure, Instagram won’t reverse the change.
Instagram has already made it clear that it’s worth the risk (people might deviate from Instagram to other social platforms) if the move can result in a healthier environment for people.
It’s good to see their commitment towards ensuring users’ well-being, even at the risk of facing a potential drop in popularity.