What do you think of Instagram marketing

Brace yourselves: Instagram is now hiding likes in the United States and testing the like-free feed worldwide!

Instagram likes first disappeared in Canada last May, and then expanded to several more countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand, and more recently, the United States.

Hiding Instagram likes in the United States is a BIG deal.

Find out why Instagram is hiding likes, what the new design looks like, how it works, and the impact it could have on influencers and businesses:

Why is Instagram Hiding Likes in the US? 

Instagram users in the United States might wake up to their Instagram feed looking different in the coming weeks.

Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, announced that hidden likes on Instagram will begin testing for US audiences:

Speaking at WIRED25 Conference, Mosseri shared it was time to expand their testing to the US in a bid to make Instagram a safer place on the internet.

And while not everyone will be affected initially, some U.S.-based users will be part of the now international test group, and we can expect this to expand to more users as time goes on. 

How Do Hidden Likes on Instagram Work?

It’s important to note that likes will not be disappearing altogether – rather, they will just be hidden to followers, but users will still be able to view how many likes they’ve received on a post with just a couple taps.

Here’s what the new “private likes” design looks like when you’re scrolling Instagram:

“As you scroll through your feed, there are no like counts,” explained Mark Zuckerberg at F8. “You can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself.”

But can you still see how many likes you get on your own Instagram posts? 

Yes, you will still be able to see how many likes you’re getting on posts, even if your followers can’t.

But the likes count won’t automatically appear under your post, instead, you will have to tap “others” under your blog post to go through to the total number of likes:

Why Instagram is Hiding Likes

So, why is Instagram hiding likes?

It all comes down to making Instagram a safe and healthy place to spend time online, which is important for everyone’s mental health, but particularly Gen Z.

As Mosseri shared, “the idea is to de-pressurize Instagram”, and make it a space that’s more focused on connections, conversations and community, especially for young people. 

This year Instagram has been taking positive actions to make the platform a safer, more inclusive space.

And with the introduction of private likes for some of Instagram’s 110 million users in the US, it could mark the beginning of a very different Instagram for everyone.

This is easily Instagram’s biggest news of 2019, and it’s being met mostly with positive reactions, especially from celebrities.

CardiB took to Instagram when the news broke to share her thoughts on the announcement: 

“It’s a big ruckus right now that the likes on Instagram are getting taken away,” CardiB said in her IGTV video.

Speaking on how ‘commenting culture’ can have a negative effect on creators, she backs the removal of likes, but highlights that more to be done.

And CardiB is not alone in voicing concerns about the toxicity that can live on Instagram. 

Kim Kardashian West agrees that taking away Instagram likes could be beneficial for our mental health.

Attending the New York Times‘ DealBook Conference, Kim said: “As far as mental health, I think taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from [Instagram] would be really beneficial for people.”

“I find myself to be extremely mentally strong and I have people who are obsessed with the comments, and I find that to be really unhealthy,” Kim said. 

How to Hide Your Likes on Instagram (Or Get Them Back):

As of this week, only users in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand and selected test groups in the US have access to hidden likes on Instagram.

If you’ve been selected for the test, you’ll see a banner at the top of your home feed letting you know why you don’t see likes on another user’s posts anymore.

How do you get into the test group? 

Unfortunately, there is no way to opt-in to hidden likes, or opt-out if you’re already part of the test group.

Instagram hasn’t commented on exactly how big this test is — for the US, or other country audiences — but as a resident of Canada, I can say that the test is a lot bigger than I thought it would be.

After about 3 months, it seemed that hidden likes in Canada was rolled out to nearly everyone on Instagram.

This is, of course, represents a massive change to how Instagram and its users function. The number of likes a post gets, while not the best measure of “success,” has long been a kind of status symbol on the platform.

The “hiding” of like counts seems to be purely about helping users share more authentic content without getting caught up in the competition.

Zuckerberg said as much during his keynote, stating:“We want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”

How Will a Like-Free Instagram Affect Influencers and Brands?

The big question on everyone’s minds is: how will this affect Instagram influencers and businesses?

Personally, I think this is a really positive change for the platform. Instagram Stories don’t have any public metrics, and that hasn’t stopped it from exploding in popularity with both users, brands, and influencers.

The fact that your “like count” is out of sight means that the focus is on your content, rather than a number, and can allow you to post more freely without being limited to your best times to post.

And because your likes are hidden away, it serves as a mental health reminder to check in with yourself: do you really need to know how many people liked your recent selfie?

Obviously, this change does have major implications for influencers. For one, it could make it more difficult for brands to find Instagram influencers to work with.

This will likely be good news for influencer marketing platforms, which usually have access to influencers’ Instagram analytics and can share that with brands looking to find the right creators to partner with.

In 2019, brands care more about reach and engagement rate than they do followers, so without the ability to publicly view an influencer’s likes (aka their engagement), it could make it harder to gauge how engaged their community is. Suddenly, a good influencer media kit is now deemed essential.

But at the same time, brands are already moving away from caring solely about likes, and focusing more on creating long-term partnerships with influencers who create on-brand content and have an authentic relationship with their followers.

Taking away likes isn’t going to change that, and again – we just need to look at Instagram Stories to see that both brands and influencers can have success with branded content, without engagement counts being public.

Health and wellness influencer @davecoast is excited about the change, saying that he hopes this will be a “step in a more authentic direction, where brands start looking at other metrics that derive more meaning, like reach or impressions or saves.”

There’s also the creative component to think about, he explains. “I think influencers and users will be more willing to post more artsy/cool/different content if likes are hidden. For example, every third photo on my feed used to be of a subject other than myself, which didn’t perform as well.”

“But I liked that it challenged me to think differently about my posts and show my life in another way. But as ‘engagement rates’ became increasingly important with brands, I decreased these posts and do them every 9 posts instead of 3 now.”

As for businesses on Instagram?

“Businesses on Instagram will have to be more creative in analyzing data and get specific about what content is actually driving the business, and supporting your business goals,” explains Mel Brittner, social media strategist at Later.

“Likes were always a false currency, but an easy number to give when asked how content is performing and an easy way to compare, so I think this shift forces businesses to look at what’s actually working.”

Alexis Davis, founder of the social agency The Content Plug, predicts that “brands will need to convince stakeholders that organic Instagram still has a place in marketing plans based on the ‘hidden’ analytics.”

What do you think about Instagram hiding likes – do you love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments!

Want to save time and get more engagement on your Instagram posts? Start scheduling posts for free with Later, the #1 Instagram marketing platform: 

 

Written By

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Head of Marketing at Later. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her on Instagram at @taylor.loren for more Instagram tips and a look inside life at Later.