What Does Instagram’s New Feature of Hiding Likes Mean?
The millennials as we are fondly called, spend a major chunk of our everyday life on the interweb. From Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram, virtual reality has become our only reality. Like they say, "If you didn’t post it, did it really happen?”.
The never-ending battle of getting more likes and comments has become the new currency, everyone wants to get rich on. And a few fortunate ones who are able to cash in on it are the "influencers”. However, Instagram that has given rise to a whole new alternate profession of influencers is about to do the unthinkable. Starting May Instagram is testing a new feature of ‘hidden likes’ in selected countries. This means that "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.” This basically means that instead of posting a photo and anxiously waiting to see who double taps, there are no numbers at all.
This ‘hidden likes’ feature is basically targeted to tackle self-esteem issues and to make social media more personalized. Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that he wanted the platform to feel "less like a competition”. This new feature throws the self-proclaimed popularity metric of more likes and comments out of the window, to bring in a freer and less competitive environment. But what about the influencer market that runs on likes, comments or rather how they term it as engagement?
How Does It Effect The Influencer Market?
The influencer market is based on the number of likes and comments. And this move has garnered mixed reviews from the community. With the likes gone, the focus is on one’s content, rather than a number, and it will allow one to post more freely without being limited to what works and what doesn’t.
However, having said that, one can’t deny that this move would definitely make it difficult for brands since they measure the influencer’s reach through these ‘hidden’ likes. Engagements-- the number of likes, clicks to external sites, and comments--have been consistently used to determine the success of influencer posts. However, one may also add that they are not the most accurate metrics for determining if actual sales do occur as a result of posts by influencers.
Instagram feels that with this new feature the content will take over and it will also help users to shift to Instagram stories (that are available on one’s page for 24hrs only). However, keeping aside the more mentally stable environment Instagram is trying to promote, what other benefits does this move have for the application as a whole?
What Does Instagram Gain From It?
Lia Haberman, formerly VP Audience Development at Livestrong, notes that the hidden likes could result in a spending shift away from influencer marketing and towards paid advertising on Instagram. "This will likely increase the number of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.”
So, to explain this in layman language, the brands will prefer Instagram sponsored ads, stead of blogger-based content which in turn will help the application gain more revenue.
This new feature has left the community divided. Some say, this feature might actually translate into a healthier relationship with Instagram for many users. While others are of the opinion that as the influencer market takes a hit, Instagram is set to generate more revenue at their cost.
Now how much of "real content” it pushes out, that only time will tell!