On the Likes of Likes — Why Instagram Hiding Its Likes Doesn’t Matter

The Company
23 July 2019

A recent update to Instagram’s features has brought on some pretty big changes to the way users experience its interface. Deployed in seven countries, the update removes their users’ ability to view the number of likes on other people’s posts. Though still a beta feature, this latest update hopes to privilege a focus on ‘storytelling’ over garnering likes. 

In theory, it’s an interesting take on reducing the dependency of users towards the validation of their online peers. However, it calls into question the use and effects that likes have on an Instagram account, especially that of a business. But does it really affect the way a business engages with their audience? 

The decision to hide Instagram’s likes may seem daunting at a glance, but businesses have little to fear. 

Not just a race to the top 

The removal of likes visibility on Instagram is more of an aesthetic shift than an algorithmic one for brands. Your brand’s followers will no longer be able to view the number of likes each of your posts receives, but your visibility of its engagement remains.  

Some businesses might see the absence of Instagram likes as a cause for panic. But brands can heave a sigh of relief — this change has little effect on your engagement metric. Likes are still a viable measurement for your brand’s engagement, though some minor concerns may come into play in the long run.  

A business’ presence on social media is largely defined by the level of engagement they garner from audiences. Challenges arise in the form of limited engagement due to the lack of visibility. Audiences that perceive a post as lacking in engagement might in turn feel unwilling to engage with it. Most brands can avoid this by building a strong customer base and relationship. 

Housekeeping and adjustments 

However, there are some factors that brands need to keep in mind when Instagram deploys this change for good. Adjustments need to be taken into consideration in order to compensate for the fluctuation of traffic and engagement. 

Within a realm as fast-paced as social media, many brands harness the success of a content schedule by repeating it ad infinitum to keep their engagement ratings up. This partly involves understanding the flow of site traffic on Instagram in order to reach the most amount of audience. As Instagram deploys this feature in full, brands are advised to take a closer look at their content scheduling practices and adjust them as necessary.  

Reconfiguring the way your brand schedules its posts and understanding the new algorithm and traffic flow of Instagram will keep you on top of the changes to engagement. 

The death of Click Farms 

With the demise of like visibility comes the death of click farms too. As Instagram begins to veer away from the instant gratification and validation gained from soaring numbers of likes on a post, click farms will slowly begin to lose their prominence. The truth of the matter is that many influencers on Instagram still employ this method to build and boost their engagement. They are the ones who will see their posts take a momentary stumble, but its long-term effects will open doorways to more opportunities for exploration.  

As long as you build your business on Instagram through genuine audience engagement and valuable content, it will thrive. With some luck, the industry of click farming will die out to give way to genuine engagement and quality content instead of artificial boosting. 

An open door for experimentation and expression 

There is a bright side to all the chaos. Instagram’s primary motivations for nixing the display of likes on posts come from a good place. They hope to create an environment with less pressure to ‘perform’, and to allow their users to have more security in the way they express themselves. 

Brands can do the same by experimenting with new ways of delivering content and campaigns. Focus more on providing something of value to your audiencePartner with fellow brands and influencers on Instagram who are equally dedicated to providing valuable and meaningful content to your audiences. 

Trust in the algorithm 

When all is said and done, the absence of tangible, visible number can still be daunting. However, even without them, it’s likely that Instagram’s internal algorithms are keeping track of a post’s engagement. Like Google, the app functions to boost the visibility of posts which receive higher quantities of engagement.  

Though this may call into question the efficiency of Instagram’s algorithm, nothing really must change in the way a business engages its audience. Stick to your guns and keep engaging your audience with the right hashtags and the right content.

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