Is this the end of "likes" on Instagram?

Instagram announced they are hiding public facing likes with users in the US. What does this mean for brands, content creators, and the rest of us?

Aana Leech
min read
Is this the end of "likes" on Instagram?

Instagram, the monthly past-time of 1 billion people, announced this week that they are going to test hiding public facing Instagram likes with users in the US. Predictably, the internet was ablaze with reactions from users, influencers, and celebrities.

The underlying question everyone is asking - “How will this change impact me?” We found ourselves asking the same question.

The background

By now you know that this announcement isn’t coming completely out of the blue. Instagram started to experiment with hiding likes in Canada in April and expanded the test to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand in July. Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO, explained that “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them.” Before this week, demetrication wasn’t a part of my vocabulary. This social movement started in 2012 with a plugin made by Benjamin Grosser - an artist and assistant professor of new media at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. The plugin removed engagement metrics on a piece of content like: likes, retweets, and views. The value metrics that we chase after every post to validate and publicly reinforce our content. The goal of removing metrics: to shake us from the patterns of behavior the metrics reinforce. #feltcutemightdeletelaterGreg Birman, a creator in the Pop Pays community since 2013, shared his thoughts on the change.

"When Instagram came along, it was not only a safe place for creativity but a place that introduced me to incredible friends, allowed me to meet people I idolize and opened unimaginable opportunities as an influencer. However, with new algorithms came new challenges of not being discovered, leading to low engagement, leading to insecurity about my content, leading to disinterest and overall lack of inspiration (I went from posting twice a day to once a week). With hidden likes, I'm hopeful that creators and users will be unhinged from the social pressure of engagement ratios and will be followed and heard on the merits of their content, creativity, and authenticity. Instagram wants users to post more frequently, spend more time on the app, take more actions, and be more creative. Hiding likes might just be the way to do that.”

If hiding engagement metrics on Instagram, and other social platforms, leads users, influencers, and celebrities to act and create more freely - how can that be bad? We’ve long had the belief that influence was a happy by-product of the passion, authenticity, and creativity of those posting it. If this change moves the industry towards valuing genuine engagement, treating influencers like something other than a media buy, and incentivizing creativity we’re excited for the future of demetrication on Instagram. As the story continues to develop, we’ll keep you updated on the news and the opportunities we believe this change has for brands, influencers, and platforms.P.S.  It isn’t lost on us, that our own name is based on the idea of popularity on Instagram. We’re working on it.

Aana Leech
Aana is the former Head of Product Brands of Popular Pays

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