This month, Instagram announced it would start implementing a change for users in the US: Hiding public post likes. This has been a controversial change that was announced back in spring of 2019 and has been in beta throughout different countries for the past few months. What is this change meant to do for the platform and how will it affect the user experience? Let’s find out.
The When and Who
About 6 months ago, Instagram announced it was starting a test where it would hide public like counts on Instagram posts. The test started in Canada, and expanded to Australia, Ireland, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Italy. And now, the test has begun in the United States. This is a gradual rollout, so some accounts may already have noticed a change, while others may notice their feeds look exactly as they always have, for now.
This change will not remove likes altogether. This will simply hide the like count from followers, but the original poster will still be able to see the number of likes their post has. Once the change has been implemented on your account, as you scroll through your feed, you’ll notice where like counts once were, will now say “Liked by @username and others”. You will still have the opportunity to click on the “others” and find a list of those who have liked the post, but there will be no total like number listed.
The idea behind removing likes was to create a safe and healthy place for people to spend time online, and to do so in a way that’s good for overall mental health. Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, said, “The idea is to de-pressurize Instagram.” Earlier this year, Instagram removed the “Following Activity” tab, where users could see likes and comments of their followers. This removal goes hand in hand with the like removal. The direction Instagram is trying to move in is a space that is more focused on connections, community, and conversations.
So how will this change affect brands on Instagram? Bottom line is this shouldn’t have a negative impact on branding. On the back end, brands will still be able to see the same analytics that they always have. The public won’t see the number of likes your post has, but you still will.
Furthermore, having the like count hidden means the focus should shift more toward your content, rather than being tied down to a number. Post success can truly be measured by post engagement on your post, and not how it compares to a competitor’s post.
Measurement of success of a post can still be gauged by reach and impression, comments, click-throughs on paid ads and Instagram Stories, new follows, and still, post likes. However, this change may decrease the importance we have placed on likes in the past. In short, businesses and brands will have to get a little creative with analytics and figuring out what content is actually best for their business goals. Likes were an easy, but superficial way to show success, removing them will create a need for more in-depth analysis.
Change is never easy, and this change is no different. Adjustments will need to be made to campaigns and analytics across the board. As a whole for society, and mental health, Instagram believes this change is essential. In time, this will become the new norm, it will just take some getting used to.
At Digital Division, we understand and appreciate the importance of social media. Although this is a major change, we are excited and prepared to deal with it. If your brand is struggling to cope with the change, give us a call. We would be happy to offer guidance on all of your social media needs.