July 18, 2019

It’s the content that counts

Instagram begins hiding the likes count on posts

The tears of influencers will be flowing like salty kombucha this morning as Instagram starts its trial to hide the count of likes that posts receive, as we wrote about in this article when it was announced in May.

It’s a seemingly bold move by Instagram, designed to remove the envy associated with the popularity that influencers and their unachievable lifestyles portray. Many will see it as a welcomed direction by the platform to “pro-actively encourage the culture of kindness”.

Instagram removes likes

As of this morning, it appears that only some Australian accounts have switched to this new view. Even after updating the app, some of us here at New Beach HQ are seeing posts in the feed showing the count of likes on posts. Added to that, there appear to be issues with loading the feed, perhaps due to bugs in the API with such a massive rollout.

Interestingly, Canada, which was one of the first countries to trial the removal of the likes count from posts, momentarily switched back to the way things were. This morning though, an update from Canadian sources report that the likes count is hidden again. This test has yet to appear on Instagram profiles in the United States.

Like, I just want to be liked.

We’ve yet to see another proposed trial that was also announced at the F8 developer conference in May: the warning that Instagram will give users who take it too far in comments by way of a ‘gentle nudge’ . An attempt in the office this morning to get Daisy to test this by saying something mean to me on a post, was met with the response “I don’t wanna get banned and reported!!”

The removal of public-facing likes could result in users posting more authentic content and feeling less pressure on Insta, at least that’s the intention of this trial. It’s an effort to put less focus on the popularity-contest and shine more of a spotlight on brilliant content… something we’re all for here at New Beach Media.

So what does this mean for our brands and clients?

Luckily, although the like count doesn’t appear, we will still have access to engagement measurement tools through Insights, Ads Manager and analytical reporting. Something that may be a challenge for us now though, is the ability to easily spot an influencer with fake followers. (For example, they have 100K followers and their posts get 32 likes = dead giveaway.) We’d typically stay away from working with these people. Now, that the likes on posts are to be hidden – it may be tougher to detect these dodgy fukers fakers.

“The data is still there for influencer and business accounts.”

Instagram Australia’s Director of Policy, Mia Garlick

We’ll keep our attention on these changes and the feedback that users share across social. As a digital agency it’s in our DNA to pivot when these platforms roll out new rules to the game.


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