In May, we reported that Instagram seemed to be testing a version of the app that removed the public like counter on users’ posts. The owner of the post could still see how many likes the post accrued and who left them, but they would be invisible to everyone else; all that an accounts’ followers would see would be any comments that were left.
Instagram didn’t say much originally, but this month they confirmed the test and announced that it was being rolled out to 6 more regions. Both likes and video views will be hidden in these tests, which have expanded to some users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.
Instagram likes and video views will still be part of the platform, and both metrics will still be used to assess quality and relevance. Posts with more video views and likes, therefore, will still be gaining priority in the algorithms. The social proof that is currently available as a result of public video views and like counters, however, will disappear completely.
Right now, if you see a post with thousands of video views or likes, it can catch your interest just a little more. Soon, if the tests go well and Instagram releases this on a wide scale, the only social proof you’ll have to go on is comments. This is a big deal, because users are much more likely to hit that little heart button than they are to comment, so social proof can take a big nosedive. Comments will be more important than ever before for this purpose, so try to start coming up with strategies and ideas for how to generate discussion in your posts (including responding to every comment possible!).
These tests are just that– tests– but the fact that they’re rolling out on to more regions is something to take note of. We’ll let you know when we know more.