Study shows Instagram’s “hidden likes” function lowers post engagement
In April of 2019, Instagram decided to test a function which allowed users to hide the ‘like’ counter under their publications and only the post’s author could see the actual number. The function launch was officially confirmed by the social network in July. It currently works in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.
Researchers from Instascreener, a marketing analytics company, have analyzed 16 million Instagram posts from various influencers and categorized them by location. The analysts aimed at comparing the degree of engagement in April and August.
In April, the average response rate in the tested countries was 1.9%, and in August it showed 20% decrease or 0.4 percentage points (to 1.5%). In countries where the experiment was not conducted, engagement declined from 1.8% in April to 1.6% in August (9% decrease or 0.2 percentage points).
Thus, it can be concluded that countries that had access to the function of hidden likes showed a decrease in their level of engagement which was 11% greater than regions where the experiment was not conducted.