When Instagram announced it was going to test removing the visibility of likes on the posts of other users, some businesses, influencers, and the general public were quite upset. After all, how is anyone supposed to know how they are doing in comparison to how others are doing if we cannot see the number of likes their posts have? Also, when you cannot see the number of likes a post has, you cannot immediately tell how popular it is. How are you supposed to know if you should like a post or not, if you don’t know who else liked it?
To Post or Not to Post
This dilemma may seem silly for individual users, but our culture of comparison has perpetuated the problem. No one wants to create a post that will cause embarrassment by not attracting enough likes to support their social stature. Instagram is the land of perfectly filtered pictures of the good times or perfectly composed pictures of the bad time, but it doesn’t really matter what kind of time you’re having; as long as you get the dopamine hit of attracting more likes than someone else.
Getting rid of like visibility will reduce the amount of competition among peers. The hope is that this will improve the emotional impact of Instagram on its users, but another great side effect of this new approach may be more creativity and true authenticity from users. When they do not have to worry about everyone in the world seeing how popular their posts are, users may feel freer to experiment with posts outside of the standard concept of what seems to get likes.
To Like or Not to Like
In addition to the nail-biting that comes with wondering if every post will get enough likes, two other sources of stress plague the comparative liking culture on Instagram and other social media sites. The stress of being among the first few to like a post, and the stress of not liking a post you should have liked. The social implications that come with liking a post no one else likes are heavy. What is wrong with your taste in social media content or general interests? Are you destined to be alone in this world, if you are the only person out of over one billion users that likes Gadgets R Us’s post about doohickeys?
Businesses and Influencers
More Genuine Engagement
When users cannot easily see how popular a post is, they are more likely to engage based on their own taste. This is an especially important factor when some businesses actually purchase likes. With Instagram taking like visibility away, users cannot simply see that everyone else liked a post, so, therefore, they should tap the heart, then keep scrolling. This means that if a user actually does hit the like button, there is more of a chance they genuinely like the post.
When you have genuine engagement from users, then the insights your brand gets are based more on actual interest and less on social pressure. Having this information is highly valuable because it helps you understand what people actually want to see. When you give people what they want to see, you build actual brand loyalty as opposed to social brand loyalty.
More Freedom to Create Brand Identity
When you are running an Instagram account for a brand, or you are an influencer, the pressure to create popular posts is enormous. The current tendency is for brands to keep posting what they know works because no one wants the world to see their post getting fewer likes than the other brand’s posts. A lack of likes can feel like death for an influencer or a business. Likes are seen as social proof that your brand is better than your competitors.
What if you are just getting started, or you want to experiment with your posts to make them truer to your brand? When no one can see the number of likes your post got, then the pressure starts to ease up and you are freer to simply create the kinds of posts that let everyone see your individual flair. In the end, this freedom will help you target your audience and find the people who will truly be enthralled with your brand.
If you enjoy sharing your life with your followers on Instagram, removing like visibility will take some pressure off and improve your experience. Not worrying about everyone being able to see how many people like your post will open the door to a greater sense of self-expression.
If you are a business or influencer looking to find your true audience and build brand identity, lack of like visibility may be exactly what you need in order to find the confidence to explore what your brand means to you.
By taking away the ability to see the number of likes another user’s post gets, Instagram made a wise move toward more genuine, expressive engagement. Take a deep breath and post away, knowing that your content will no longer be judged based on how many people “like” your post.