In a bid to make the platform less toxic, Instagram have decided to stop showing how many people have liked published posts in response to criticism of the role it plays in damaging people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Focussing on shared content
Testing initially in Canada, and eventually rolling out worldwide, Instagram want followers to focus on the content being shared rather than how much engagement they’ve gathered. Don’t fret, the act of liking something is still there – but users can only view their own metrics privately by tapping through their posts. Instagram will no longer show the big number next to the post.
Head of Instagram, Adam Moseri, admitted that Instagram Stories were partly the inspiration behind this major change as the public can’t see the metrics of who has viewed a Story. He also said that the changes are “about creating a less pressurised environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
Why is Instagram hiding the likes?
It has been highly documented that social media is closely associated with depressive symptoms which goes hand and hand with the amount of engagement each post receives, with some young people even seeing it as a form of self-validation.
It’s been widely debated how the likes of Instagram, Facebook & Twitter can crack down on this mental health epidemic with little being done to move forward and the buck being passed between governments and social media platforms to take accountability. So, I commend Instagram for sticking their neck out and experimenting with their app for the benefit of their users.
Late last year Instagram shrunk the size of their follower and following counts on each user’s page to make the uploaded content the priority of the profile. This is just another step in the right direction for Instagram to ensure the safety of their users.
Anxiety about social media and the damaging role it plays on its users has been controversial for some time. The idea of removing the like and follower count gathered popularity last year when Kanye West sent a flurry of tweets about the damage counters are doing to social media users. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, even arranged a meeting with Kanye to suggest what changes can be made to improve his platform, so we shall wait and see if Twitter follows in Instagram’s footsteps.
But what about businesses?
Many businesses and influencers use the visible metrics as a way of seeing how popular a post is and how people are interacting with their products. This will leave marketers and influencers alike scratching their heads about moving forward when it comes to spending money on Instagram within their digital strategy.
The team at Instagram are aware that hiding likes could be financially difficult for many users who depend on the platform for their business and confirmed to Techcrunch that they were exploring ways for brands and partners to communicate beneficially. It will be interesting to see how that side of Instagram develops over time to include brands within their approach.
For influencers who depend on visible metrics for their income, they may struggle to find a compromise with these changes. Alternatively, businesses may thrive in this new ‘Likeless’ age as the content will speak for itself. Ask any marketer – content is always king but over time people have lost sight of what’s important on their social profiles and the numbers became imperative. This major change on Instagram may be the thing to finally transform the social media landscape indefinitely, for individuals and businesses.