Beginning this week, Instagram will test hiding the likes of some users in the United States of America. The change, which was previously tested in seven other countries, may negatively affect influencers who use the metric as a measure of engagement with their following.
Instagram said the step is an attempt to reduce the competitive nature of the platform, which places undue pressure on users, particularly the young.
Already, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand have seen similar trials rolled out to their citizens.
“The idea is to depressurise Instagram, make it less of a competition.”– Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri
Users will continue to see the number of likes they receive for their own pictures and video posts however, this total will not be visible to their followers.
“The idea is to depressurise Instagram, make it less of a competition,” said Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, during a conference in California last week.
Influencers with large followings will likely be less affected as they would have their follower count to rely on. However, those with fewer fans but great engagement from likes may find it difficult to compete and attract brands. The competition would then move to reliance upon one main metric – number of followers.
This in itself could pose an additional problem as those with a mostly organic following would now be forced to contend with others with paid followers, or bot accounts, which Instagram has been fighting to counter. Currently, some brands and individuals use engagement through likes to determine to what extent followers may have been garnered illicitly.
It remains to be seen what Instagram’s long-term decision will be as brands and influencers wait to see what, if any, changes will affect how they currently do business.