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Instagram is Hiding Likes: How Should We React To This?

by Lee Xin Hui, Rachel. |

I’m sure most of us have heard the news circling around about Instagram hiding the number of ‘likes’ for certain users across 7 countries. This ongoing test was recently extended to the US and celebrities and social media influencers alike are having mixed reactions to it - Nicki Minaj included. Some are happy with the change, some are worried, and some don’t really know how to feel.

We know how brands and influencers depend largely on the number of likes to market their product or services; but how does this affect Instagrammers, even like ourselves and how should we use this change to our advantage?

1. Making meaningful, authentic content

As the platform grows, your favourite content creators are faced with even more competition among each other. Some would feel the pressure to try new things and venture into them so that they reach a wider demographic. However, difficulties arise because what is popular may not always be the creators’ fortes; so for them to force themselves into a certain domain just because they want a larger audience will result in content that may come off as insincere or plain scripted.

With Instagram hiding the number of likes from the audience, it takes the ‘pressure’ off of us the next time we decide to post something. We will begin to freely share more and discuss topics that reflect ourselves without worrying if the number of likes will decrease and how that affects our popularity, so to speak. Even if it does, I believe it will be only a matter of time until it increases again. Why? Because people want original content, we want to read things that resonate with our hearts instead of scrolling through a feed that lacks authenticity. I’m sure we have scrolled our Instagram feed and felt bored at one point because all we see are ads and sponsored posts.

Plus, the best thing about being authentic is that it makes anyone stand out because no two people are exactly the same. Sure, there will be some of us who share similar traits, but your experiences and your perspectives are things other people cannot replicate and it’s what sets you apart.

2. Explore diverse ways to be creative

Speaking of originality, we need to practise that in the visual aspects of social media as well. Most pictures on Instagram tend to follow a certain template: the camera angles, the saturated Lightroom edits, the positioning of products, etc. When it comes to the technicalities of presenting a product and actual photography, understandably there are certain rules that follow; but if you’re not focusing on photography, explore! Come up with unconventional ways of capturing moments, try an unpopular colour scheme, dive into a variety of visual elements; you’re a creator, so have fun and be creative with how you share your memories!

It doesn’t really matter if it looks unusual or doesn’t match your previous feed; now that you don’t have to depend on the number of likes for validation, you’re not bound by the standards of certain aesthetics. Showcase your uniqueness and you’ll attract like-minded people who appreciate them!

3. Foster genuine connections

As users ourselves, we often judge someone’s popularity by the number of followers and likes on their pictures because that’s the most evident determinant we see. Depending solely on likes will lead us to devote their attention towards posting content that is widely favoured for the sake of garnering more likes.

Now that the ‘likes’ are soon to be hidden, they no longer serve as the determining factor for popularity; so it’s about time we engage more in the comments and foster genuine connections with our followers! Social media was created as a platform for us to socialize and connect with one another, so instead of worrying if your followers will like your posts, think of how you can use your social media to create meaningful discussions. Engage with your followers and friends, start conversations, react to their comments; it is through these interactions that we get to widen each other’s perspectives and help each other grow together in the process.

For creators or Influencers who use Instagram for marketing purposes, it can be worrying because brands often look at their number of likes to determine their success rates. So let’s look at it this way: by hiding the number of 'likes', we are free to be our authentic selves, create fresh content, and restore the human touch in social media. We can look at other metrics instead of just likes.

Let’s be reminded that the number of likes should not dictate the quality of your content, and what you share to the world should not be dictated by what the world favours. In line with the removal of visible likes, let’s focus on what you want to create first, and you will reach people who appreciate it (which naturally helps grow your audience), instead of focusing on what people generally like and compromising your work to fit that standard.

With this in mind, our Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia, Kausern Hieu shares that this shouldn't affect only Social Media Influencers but us, too. We should be able to freely explore and express content that we are passionate about rather than posting risqué images or just following what others are doing to chase after ‘Likes’. We hope to see more authentic, engaging content from Malaysians showcasing their unique personality and what they stand for.

You may find out more about her on Instagram too.

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