When Instagram revealed, it would be hiding the like counts on users’ posts, it garnered a mixed bag of reactions from users across the globe. While some welcomed this step, others were worried, especially influencers that it would take away the credibility of their work on the app.

In April this year, Instagram started hiding the like-counts, which basically meant users would only be able to see which of their followers have liked a particular post, in place of the cumulative number of likes. The social media giant hasn’t done away with the complete idea of likes. The new change still lets the user see the people who have liked their posts. To begin with, this update was released in a few selected markets in several locations like Canada, Japan, and Brazil to test its viability. It is now scheduled to be released in the US and other territories. The exact date of release has not been revealed by Instagram, nevertheless, it is projected to be released progressively for some users over some time.

Since its inception in 2010, the like feature or the ‘double-tap and a heart' has been its staple, which is why this new change has come as a shock to many. As per the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, the whole thought that has gone behind this initiative is to “reduce anxiety and social comparison” on the platform. Mia Garlick, the Director of policy for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand in an interview with BBC said about this movement, “(It is to) remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.”

One of the users of Instagram, YouTuber Saffron Barker, who has 313,000 followers on the app, said about the change, “I thought this is going to take everyone away from Instagram and I work a lot on Instagram. My initial reaction was: ‘What am I going to do?’ But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m looking forward to it.”

Talking about the introduction of this new feature, Tama Leaver, an Associate Professor in Internet Studies at Curtin University in Australia, and the co-author of an upcoming book on Instagram, said, “I guess the thinking, or at least the public thinking from Instagram, has been that it will reduce the competitiveness of the platform and getting it back to the idea of it is being about sharing and communication.”

Another aspect to look at in relation to this new change is that likes are just one of the several metrics influencers, businesses and social media analysts use to compare their performance on Instagram. There are various other barometers that are used to judge the worth of a user like the comments and followers, and the follower-to-following ratio.

One of the many opinions that have surfaced is that people will now start using some of the other available metrics to evaluate their worth. Besides, the number of likes only quantifies the comparison grades that are followed. Consequently, many believe that hiding like will not really address the main issue of social comparison, while it will just shift the users to using one of the other comparison metrics.

In fact, some go to the extent of saying that this new change might only aggravate the issue that Instagram is trying to deal with. What they mean is that now in place of comparing themselves to others, users could potentially end up comparing themselves to their past selves, thus fuelling the idea of comparison furthermore.

On the contrary, many people believe that since they would not have to worry about the likes anymore, they’d be motivated to post more, which may bring out more content on the social media app. With diminished stress laid on the number of likes a particular post fetches, brands and companies would possibly be attracted to influencers or brand ambassadors that would help them to generate a better quality of content.

This content would be designed in a way with which the influencers can update their own channels. With this they would also be able to contribute to enhancing brand awareness and make the whole marketing plan more effective. In the past, many brands may have felt embarrassed to share content that didn’t get many likes but now they may feel more liberal while sharing content that would inspire conversations or probably lead to sales. The entire idea behind posting content on Instagram may change drastically.

Ultimately, the effects of the introduction of this new feature remain to be seen. Many notions have been put forward by the users but what course this latest development will actually take is still not quite clear. Also, since this feature brought in by Instagram is still in the testing phase, what would be more interesting is whether the social media platform accepts this change permanently or will it go away after a while.

Author's Bio: 

I am a blogger work for social networks and my work regularly appears on different digital marketing sites