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Instagram’s Testing Likes on Stories, Providing Another Engagement Option


What would a Like button add to the Instagram Stories experience?

Right now, you can respond to a Story with a quick emoji response, which is then sent to the creator via DM, while you can also type in a direct response message that’s also delivered to their inbox. You can also engage with Stories by sharing, forwarding, etc.

But a like button could add another element, and by the looks of it, we may be close to finding out just how beneficial likes on Stories could be.

As you can see in this example, shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram appears to be close to launching a live test of likes on Stories, providing an easy, quick way to engage with a Stories post, without having to clog up the creator’s inbox with reactions.

The new Stories like button, at least at this stage of the experiment, would appear alongside the message field at the bottom of the Stories display.

That would mean that the current Stories forwarding option, signified by the Direct paper plane icon, would be shifted to the function menu instead, and that format looks pretty effective, and as noted, fairly close to a test launch, given its development.

But then again, Instagram has been working on this for some time – here’s another screenshot of the option in testing which Paluzzi posted last November.

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Instagram Stories reactions

It seems that Instagram has scaled it back a little, with only likes now available in the latest test, as opposed to all of the various Reactions options.

That’s likely because of how they would be displayed on the Stories frame, with Instagram noting that creators would be able to see their like counts ‘in the same place as Story viewers’. Maybe, adding all reaction types just took up too much room in the display, which is why it’s moved to only likes – but then that also raises the question as to what value likes would actually bring, and whether it’s worth adding them at all in the process.

As you may recall, Instagram removed public Like counts on feed posts back in 2019, before finally enabling users to choose whether they display likes or not, instead of totally eliminating the option. The impetus for this change was that Instagram wanted to reduce the pressure around public posting, and competing for likes, and by giving users the capacity to remove that element if they wish, that, theoretically at least, can help to lessen some of that comparison among peers, and stop users from deleting posts that don’t reach a certain like level.

Which suggests that likes on Instagram may not be overly beneficial – but then again, they do serve a ranking purpose, and they are important for the users receiving that engagement.

The main difference in this new application is that Stories like counts would not be public, it would just be between you and the creator, so it’s not the same thing – but it is interesting to note that Instagram’s looking to remove likes on one hand, and add them on another.

Maybe that conflict is why Instagram hasn’t launched a live test of the option as yet, but again, it could also provide a direct measure to help Instagram improve Stories ranking, by giving content from the creators that you like most higher priority, while it also does add an extra interactive element.

And really, anything that gets rid of these messages is probably a good thing.

Instagram Stories reaction via DM

Like, what do you do with that? Send a heart back? A thumbs up?

It feels like Reactions are not really designed for this type of response, which is why this update makes sense. Though for brands, it is worth noting that the removal of the sharing option from the bottom of the frame could result in fewer re-shares, while Stories likes would add another metric to track, and keep tabs on as a performance metric.

Overall, it seems to make sense – we’ve asked Instagram for an update on the test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.





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