With more than one billion active users on the platform every month, Instagram is a popular social media platform that continues to garner audiences around the world. But as with everything in the digital space, the platform experiences changes in functionality and performance.

One of those changes – hiding “likes” on posts – is being tested in multiple countries and has been a hot topic over the past few weeks. What does this mean for you and your company? Will it affect you at all? How can we adjust and adapt to the future?

Hiding “Likes”

Instagram began hiding “likes” on posts in Canada in early 2019, and testing has rolled out to other countries as well, including Australia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. When scrolling through Instagram, users will notice an absence of “like” counts under photos or videos on their feed, though they will still be able to tap on the list to see other users who have liked the photo.

Businesses or individuals who post content will still be able to see how many “likes” their post has received, but that number will not be revealed to anyone else on the platform.

Why is Instagram Hiding Likes?

Social media can be an incredibly great resource for finding like-minded groups or building out a feed of carefully curated content that inspires you. However, it can also play into people’s insecurities and negatively affect mental health.

As more and more audiences see the number of “likes” disappear, we are hopeful that shared content will become more genuine and authentic since people or businesses won’t be able to compete on a vanity metric. Instagram is making the move not only to keep its users’ mental health on the up-and-up and increase enjoyment in using the platform, but it could also be implementing the change to force businesses and influencers to use other metrics in determining the success of a post or campaign.

Moving away from the vanity “like” metric and looking at reach, saves, or web traffic through analytics could force users to prove their value on the platform in hard data. It seems to be a smart move on Instagram’s part, since proving ROI on the platform through data could lead to an increase in paid advertising.

How will Hidden “Likes” Affect Your Marketing?

If you only use Instagram for personal reasons, expect to feel less pressure to share photos or videos that will get the most likes and start sharing content that feels uniquely you. 

If you’re a business, on the other hand, it’s time to get down into the numbers and figure out how you’re going to show your boss that Instagram is a smart platform for your company to be on. How is it driving business? How is your content strategy supporting your business goals? What hard numbers can you supply that prove Instagram gives you a great bang for your buck?

Take a look at your current campaigns and hone in on your content strategy. Start implementing analytics in your discussions around the platform and think about running A/B testing to determine what strategies will help you meet your goals.

As of October 2019, the change has yet to roll out in the United States – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Results from testing in other countries seems to be largely positive and we expect that hiding “likes” will roll out in our market in the future. It’s time to say “Bye” to the vanity “like” metric and “Hello” to hard data… Are you ready?

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