What's the deal?
You can still see who liked your posts, but removing the number makes it a bit more challenging to quantify a post’s popularity. Instagram is testing a hypothesis that users will feel more comfortable sharing what they care about without being embarrassed by a low number of likes, and will also observe how liking behavior changes as people have to decide for themselves whether they like something with less influence from herd mentality.
Not everyone is seeing this change, as Instagram is rolling it out gradually. This change may negatively impact influencers, as site HypeAuditor found that influencers lost 3-15% of their average post likes in countries where this test was rolled out previously (it has been in effect in Canada since April and in Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand since July).
An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch, “If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own. While the feedback from early testing has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community.”
Some of the Celebrity, Influencer and Artist population on Instagram are not thrilled about the change. It will be harder for brands to decipher the popularity of content posted by these accounts. Instagram “likes” validated the trend and reputation of their posts. Comment count will now hold more weight in brands deciding to collaborate with an artist or influencer.
This change has potential to fundamentally alter the economics of Instagram. By giving likes less weight, influencer investments may decrease and obscuring this popularity lens, Instagram hopes to boost creativity. While potentially a positive for the social culture and content creation that the platform supports, businesses may need to pivot strategy to depend less on likes and focus more on creating engaging content, making this a potential long-term win for humanity and short-term challenge for business.