Watching the number of likes you receive on Instagram posts is an addictive game. But how useful is it to see those numbers? It’s so easy to get hung up on them, but how would you feel if you couldn’t see them? Should you hide your likes on Instagram?
Instagram started testing like counts back in 2019 with the aim to depressurize people’s experience on the platform.
The change really divided opinions. Whilst some people found it beneficial for their mental health and interaction, others who relied on counts for their business models or to see what’s trending found it more annoying. So in 2021 they decided to give people the option. After all, what people want from their Instagram experience varies for everyone.
So what are benefits of hiding your likes?
1. Better for your mental health
Despite the thrill of seeing those likes roll in, there’s always the flip side. If your post doesn’t get the likes you were hoping for, it can be quite disheartening. You may post something that receives a high number of likes one week, so you emulate something similar the next but it doesn’t receive as many. Low likes can make you feel like your content isn’t good enough. It’s hard enough to try and always beat the algorithms on social media so when you don’t see physical results it can play on your mind.
It’s not just Instagram. We see videos all the time on Tiktok of people questioning why they’re not getting as many views. People have been known to remove a post after five minutes if it hasn’t performed as well as the average. That’s a lot of pressure on yourself. Instagram said their aim was to create a more positive online environment and make it less of a competition. Hiding the likes on Instagram takes away that unnecessary pressure to be validated by strangers.
2. Puts the focus on content
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said they want to ‘give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them‘. Naturally our eye is drawn to the big bold number of likes on a post. When the likes are hidden, it puts the focus on the content that’s being shared rather than whether your post is popular.
Some influencers showed some initial hesitation – isn’t the whole point of Instagram about getting likes and views? However, they started coming round to the idea that perhaps they could have a bit more freedom with what they were posting without worrying about if people will like it. Influencer, Marvin Brooks, told Esquire back in 2019, ‘The metrics take away from what you actually want Instagram to be about, which is about sharing all aspects of your life.’ It’s easy to fall into the trap of only posting content you think your followers will like, essentially stripping away any originality. There’s a pressure to always appear perfect, but hiding the likes takes that away, giving you the chance to just post what you want rather than second guessing.
What are the disadvantages of hiding your likes?
1. Collaboration deals may be impacted
Whilst hiding the likes is trying to discourage businesses and advertisers from looking at the metrics as the most important point in a campaign, unfortunately most business and influencer collaborations often depend on the numbers. They play a huge part in companies decisions with who they want to work with. Hiding the likes could put companies off. Casey Barker, an Instagram influencer, said, ‘I just feel like when brands are looking at my page at the minute, the more likes I have in general, the more I think they’ll want to work with me.’
Influencer marketing platform, HypeAuditor, did a study during the initial testing period to see the effects of hiding the likes. Those with 5-20,000 followers experienced up to a 15% drop in number of likes. Although these results aren’t definitive, if collaboration deals are dependent on numbers this may affect future opportunities.
2. Relying on comments
If HypeAuditor’s research stands correct, it means users may start relying on comments to boost their posts. Instagram generally favours comments over likes, so perhaps one of the reasons they decided to offer the ‘hide likes’ option was to encourage people to leave more comments instead. They see it as people having meaningful conversation and engaging with each other. So why could this be a bad thing?
Influencers or businesses may start encouraging users to leave comments instead of liking. That runs the risk of the comments becoming completely engineered just to boost the number. They can just be short, gimmicky comments that aren’t the meaningful conversation Instagram were perhaps hoping for.
How do I hide likes on my Instagram?
Simply go to settings, then privacy, then head to posts. You’ll then find the below. This option allows you to hide likes on other people’s posts so you don’t have to see them. To hide them on your own posts, you need to go to ‘Advanced settings’ when you’re creating your post and turn on ‘hide like and view counts on this post’.
Like we said, every Instagram users experience is different. Certainly for businesses you may need the numbers for reporting. The good thing is even if you do hide the likes you can still see the numbers in your insights tab. It might be worth trialling for a couple of weeks to see the impact it has, not just on the figures but on the type of posting you do as well. Does it give you more creative freedom? Or does it change the relationship you have with your followers? After all, much of social media is trial and error, and how will we know if we don’t try?