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  • Meerelle Cruz

Instagram Experiments with Likes on Stories as a New Way to Engage Users

What value would a Like button bring to Instagram Stories?

You can currently respond to a Story with an emoji answer, which is then sent to the creator through DM, or you can enter in a direct response message, which is also delivered to their inbox. You can also interact with Stories by sharing them, forwarding them, and so on. The like button, on the other hand, might provide another dimension, and it appears that we're getting close to seeing how useful likes on Stories can be.

Instagram appears to be close to introducing a live test of likes on Stories, as seen in this sample shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, allowing a simple, quick way to participate with a Stories post without clogging up the creator's inbox with reactions. At least at this point of the project, the new Stories-like button would appear beside the message box at the bottom of the Stories display.

That would imply the existing Stories forwarding option, denoted by the Direct paper aircraft icon, would be moved to the function menu instead, and that format appears to be rather effective, and, as indicated, it's getting near to a test launch. But, then again, Instagram has been working on this for a while - here's another screenshot from Paluzzi's November post with the option in testing.

Instagram appears to have dialed it back a touch, with simply likes now available in the newest test, rather than the full range of Reactions. This is most likely due to the way they'd be displayed in the Stories frame, with Instagram stating that creators will be able to see their like counts "in the same place as Story viewers." Perhaps adding all reaction types took up too much space in the display, which is why it's been reduced to only likes – but then there's the question of what value likes would truly provide, and whether it's worth adding them at all.

Instagram, as you may recall, disabled public Like counts on feed posts in 2019, before allowing users to select whether or not to display likes, rather than completely removing the option. The impetus for this change was Instagram's desire to reduce the pressure of public posting and competing for likes. By allowing users to remove that element if they wish, Instagram hopes to alleviate some of that peer comparison and prevent users from deleting posts that don't receive a certain number of likes. This shows that Instagram likes may not be all that beneficial – but they do serve a ranking purpose, and they are essential to the users who receive the engagement.

The primary distinction in this new app is that like counts in Stories would not be public; instead, they would be private between you and the creator, so it's not the same - but it's worth noting that Instagram is aiming to eliminate likes on one hand while adding them on the other. Perhaps this is why Instagram hasn't launched a live test of the feature yet, but it might also serve as a direct measure to assist Instagram to boost Stories ranking by prioritizing content from the artists you like the most, while also adding an extra interactive element. And, in general, anything that eliminates these warnings is probably a good thing.

So, what are you going to do with that? Is it possible to react a heart button? Is it a thumbs up?

This modification makes sense because it appears that Reactions were not built for this type of response. Though it's worth mentioning for companies that removing the sharing option from the bottom of the frame may result in fewer re-shares, while Stories likes would add another number to track and monitor as a performance metric.

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