Remember back when Instagram first announced that the platform would be doing away with likes, and for a second it seemed like down was up? Getting rid of the likes was an effort to diminish some of the overarching feelings of competition and comparison on the platform, both of which are heavily associated with some of Instagram’s demonstrated negative impacts, particularly on younger, more impressionable users.
For some, including myself, likes never actually went away. But many users suddenly couldn’t see the total number of likes other users’ posts garnered. In its place, it listed “and others.”
To this day, I’m not entirely sure why I can still see likes, when so many of my friends with similar followings, feeds, and post cadences cannot. But now, Instagram seems to be toying with the idea of letting users decide for themselves, according to a recent Twitter thread posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi.
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) January 14, 2021
Instagram hasn’t shared any data externally as to whether or not hiding like counts was an effective means of improving user well-being, but the fact that many users continue to have their likes hidden points to yes. However, testing hidden likes as an optional feature suggests Instagram is listening and responding to feedback from users calling for the return of likes.
Why bring back likes? For one, they’re a useful metric for creators to share with brands and potential collaborative partners. Think of them as a means of proving your followers are loyal to what you post, and therefore, whatever you get paid to post will be seen and engaged with by the people who follow you.
Of course, it’s sort of a hypothetical – just because someone likes one thing you post does not necessarily mean that they’ll purchase a product you promote. But it certainly at least increases the odds. Additionally, likes as a metric of success became problematic as paying for likes became increasingly common. I’d be interested to learn if buying likes has decreased since Instagram hid likes from a good chunk of its users.
Whether or not your pro-seeing likes, giving users the option seems pretty fair to me. To each their own and all that good stuff, right?
Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement from Instagram on whether or not these tests will evolve and inform a more permanent function on the platform. In the meantime, let us know if you get your likes back!
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