Instagram has expanded its test of hiding like counts globally. What started in Canada and spread across six other countries, including the U.S. last week, is now being rolled out to Instagram users across the world.
So why *did* Instagram make the decision to test out hiding like counts from their users? The main reason lies behind the pressure that many young users face to receive as many, or more, likes than their peers. Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri explains further that the main goal of the app is to connect people with those they love and find inspiration through others’ content. Instagram hopes that by removing like counts, their users will start to connect with each other more authentically. Instead of creating content to garner likes, Instagram hopes that users will instead share more genuine photos and videos of things that inspire them or make them happy.
With the focus of “connection” being top of mind, and its value no longer being related solely by the number of likes a post receives, will we see more meaningful engagements such as comments, sends and saves? There is potential for this test to cause a ripple in how users utilize the platform’s other features.
Here are a few things to ask yourself as you’re planning your 2020 Instagram strategy:
Likes aren’t disappearing altogether. Instead of showing an exact number count, users will now see 2-3 handles, followed by and others or and thousands of others. If you click on either of those, you will, however, get to see the name and handle who liked the post. You will only be able to see an actual like count on the photos you post yourself.
While others may not be able to measure the success of your posts by the number of likes, there will still be ways for users and brands to measure this engagement metric on their end.
For brands today, followers and likes only tell part of the story. Brands looking for an overall view of how their content is performing are spending more time looking at engagement and reach. We’ll most likely see more brands turning to social media management tools to get the big picture of how their content is performing. Like we mentioned above, on the user end, likes will still be measurable, both within the platform and by tools used to schedule and manage Instagram posts. This also encourages marketers who have measured success through likes to take a look at other engagements, like comments, clicks and saves, which in the end tell a broader story than likes do.
Many people are deeming this update “the end of influencers.” While like counts are important to influencers and brands vetting influencers, we don’t think they’ll be going anywhere any time soon. In the last year, Instagram Stories have been a huge platform for influencers. Like count has no impact on IG Story metrics. There have never been public metrics about stories, and brands still rely on them to help amplify their message. Instagram has also let users know that they are looking for different ways that creators, or influencers, can communicate value to different brands they partner with. What does that look like? We’re not exactly sure yet.
One thing we know: Instagram is taking an important step to create a more welcoming, positive experience for their users. As we’ve said before, social media is one big test. This is not the first test Instagram has rolled out, and won’t be the last. We’re excited to see what other updates platforms are considering for 2020 - stay tuned for our 2020 social and digital predictions!
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Claire is a digital specialist managing social media for clients including Okta, Nutanix, and VMware Carbon Black.