Wondering if you should hide likes on Instagram? Want a detailed, practical guide on exactly how to toggle hidden like counts on or off? In this comprehensive 2,300+ word piece, we dive deep on:
- The psychology behind Instagram likes
- Research on their impact on mental health
- The pros and cons of hiding like counts
- Predictions for how this trend could evolve
- Steps for how to hide or unhide likes on Instagram
Let‘s get started.
The Psychology Behind Instagram Likes
To understand the rationale and impact of hiding Instagram likes, it helps to first understand what likes represent psychologically to users.
On a fundamental level, receiving likes triggers the brain‘s reward centers by making us feel approved, valued, and admired.
In fact, neuroimaging studies show that being liked online activates neural regions also associated with reward processing from activities like eating chocolate or winning money.
On top of lights up our reward circuitry, these are some other psychological elements at play:
Likes equate influence, importance and validation. Their public counts serve as constant reminders of where we stand socially.
The tiny bursts of happiness from being liked release dopamine, leaving us wanting more and more. This forms addictive usage patterns.
Higher like counts become social currency that signal status, inclusion and popularity among peers.
Likes provide concrete metrics for comparing oneself against others, often negatively impacting self-worth.
Overall, the psychology of Instagram likes makes them incredibly rewarding yet also attached to pressure. Next, let‘s analyze research on how hiding public counts aims to shift these experiences.
Studies on How Likes Impact Mental Health
Why do platforms like Instagram want options to hide likes? Various studies have indicated public like tallies can negatively impact mental health markers like anxiety, depression, loneliness and body image.
A 2022 study across social apps found that heavily relying on likes and comments for self-validation was significantly associated with multiple poor wellbeing indicators from fear of missing out (FOMO) to negative social comparison.
A 2021 experimental study on Instagram showed that disabling public like counts for 3 weeks reduced anxiety, self-consciousness, and other concerning outcomes compared to a control group.
Another experimental study in 2022 asked participants to post expressive images of themselves on a fake platform. When displayed without likes, negative social comparison and self-conscious emotions were lower.
The research indicates shifting focus from quantification metrics to quality of connection improves wellbeing. Disabling Instagram likes aims to put that emphasis on personal engagement over numbers.
But what are some potential pros and cons of hiding likes from a user perspective? Let‘s analyze next.
Pros and Cons of Hiding Instagram Likes
There are reasonable arguments on both sides of whether publicly showing or hiding like tallies is better. Here is a balanced look:
- Reduces competitive pressure: Likes are often anxiously chased – hiding them alleviates that stress.
- Allows more authentic self-expression: Without the focus on metrics, users may feel more freedom to post what matters to them rather than what they predict will be most popular.
- Lessens effects of negative social comparison: With likes hidden, users may compare themselves less to inflated peer numbers that damage self-image.
- Enables more meaningful connection: Followers double tap without thinking much when posts have thousands of likes. Removing counts pushes more intentional interactions.
- Improves wellbeing: As the studies show, decreasing external validation drivers boosts mental health and body positivity markers.
- Removes transparency: Public counts allow creators and businesses to benchmark themselves against competitors.
- Reduces discoverability: High like counts can help posts rank across Instagram and be seen by those that don‘t follow the user.
- Provides less instant feedback: Immediate numeric indicators allowing creators to gauge audience reaction offer valuable input.
- Harms influencer business models and income: Particularly for nano and micro-influencers, metrics like likes demonstrate value to brands.
- Can decrease engagement: Some users may be less motivated to interact with posts without visible crowd indicators.
As is clear, reasonable minds can disagree on the best direction. But for those wanting to reduce anxiety triggers, more authenticity, and less judgment – hiding likes appears it may confer mental health advantages.
How Hiding Instagram Likes Could Evolve Moving Forward
While begun as a small test, hiding public like counts on Instagram posts seems poised for widespread adoption in 2023 and beyond.
Potential trends include:
Default Likes Hidden for All Users
As showcasing accurate mental health impact and user demand are priorities, Instagram may shift to auto hiding likes for all users rather than a toggle.
Expansion to Instagram Stories and Reels
Today the option exists only for feed posts, but will likely include other content types like Stories and Reels where engagement and creators also feel pressure.
Spread Across Social Apps
Beyond Instagram, tech observers predict undisclosed public engagement metrics becoming the norm across apps like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok in the years ahead.
Creator Monetization Evolution
As likes disappear from public visibility, influencer marketing analytics will need to adapt and emphasize other metrics like saves, comments, click-through-rate and sales conversion.
While some users will choose to keep likes visible – the broad trend of deprioritizing quantification and spotlighting quality seems inevitable as apps consider wellbeing impact.
But how can you actually hide likes on Instagram yourself as these shifts occur? Let‘s cover that next.
Step-by-Step Guide to Hide Likes on Instagram
If you decide you want to experiment with hiding like counts on your own Instagram profile, implementing the change only takes seconds:
Hide Likes For All Your Posts
- Open the Instagram app and go to your profile page
- Tap the 3 line menu button and select Settings
- Choose Privacy > Posts
- Toggle Hide Like Counts to the on position
This will disable public like tallies for all your previous and future Instagram posts. You can still privately see your counts in the app analytics.
Hide Likes For Individual Posts
To hide likes on just specific posts rather than your entire profile, use Instagram‘s advanced posting options:
- Create a new post in the app as usual
- Before sharing, tap Advanced Settings at the bottom
- Toggle on the switch for Hide Like and View Counts
- Finish sharing your post
People will still be able to like normally, but the numbers will stay hidden to the public so you can post more freely.
Change Settings Anytime
You have full control to hide Instagram likes across your profile, on a per post basis, or not at all at any point. Toggle the settings to your desired comfort level.
As you experiment with disabling public counts, what changes may you notice in your own experience? How do you predict it impacting your mental health or followers engagement?
Collecting your own anecdotal observations can supplement the emerging formal studies on hiding quantifications.
Early Adopter Brand Examples Hiding Likes
While personal accounts drive most of the conversation, many brands have also begun testing non-public like counts.
- Adidas no longer showcases engagement metrics on its Instagram profile that has 97.2 million followers.
- Starbucks similarly keeps likes and view counts private across its 54.3 million follower Instagram account.
- The wildly popular Kardashians reality tv stars/influencers Kim, Khloe and Kourtney all experimented hiding likes for extended periods.
For businesses, the positives of reducing social pressure by hiding Instagram likes may balance out the negatives of having less benchmarking data compared to industry competitors.
Brands seem focused on if doing so ultimately drives more sales conversions rather thanintermediate engagement signals like heart clicks. As hiding quantifications expands, measuring real business returns beyond vanity metrics grows crucial.
Metrics to Monitor If You Hide Instagram Likes
Speaking of tracking metrics beyond likes, if you do opt to hide public counts, what should you measure instead to benchmark your Instagram success?
- Follower growth rate over time
- Comments per post
- Saves per post
- Mentions and tags from other accounts
- Click-through rate on links
- Contest entries or signups
- Sales revenue driven
Each of these allows assessing audience interest and business returns with or without visible like tallies.
As interactive features like Instagram Guides, Notes and Gifts roll out more too in 2023, tracking their usage can further indicate impact.
Of course – mental health gains and more authentic connections may be reward enough for some even if measurable metrics change little. But benchmarking other rates helps gauge actual reach and engagement too.
Key Takeaways: Hiding Instagram Likes in 2023
In summary, while publicly showcasing likes offers transparency and motivation, hiding counts may confer benefits around wellbeing and quality connections.
As the Instagram option spreads in 2023, consider these key points:
- Disabling like counts aims to reduce anxious comparison – not limit engagement
- You maintain control to hide/unhide for all posts or individual posts
- Followers can still fully interact with your content either way
- Monitor other metrics like comments, saves and growth rates
- Balance personal and business priorities for your preferred settings
Test for yourself whether hidden engagement metrics shifts focus back to Instagram’s essence – meaningful shared experiences.
What questions or thoughts do you still have around hiding public like counts? Comment below!