Instagram Removing Likes: What the Change Means for Your Brand
We’re here to talk about recent changes to the platform: Instagram removing the visibility of other account’s likes. If you’re in a huge rush, there’s a TLDR section at the bottom.
The rumor has been around for a while, but recently Instagram announced they’re removing likes from their platform (look out, influencers). You might worry you don’t have appropriate metrics to understand how well you’re connecting with consumers, but it isn’t time to smash that panic button. In truth, likes on Instagram are more of a vanity metric than a true indication of success on social. Furthermore, Instagram knows where its bread is buttered. It’s safe to assume that, after much testing, Instagram isn’t expecting anything that would frustrate the companies that keep the lights on. With that in mind, we’re here to give you the scoop on why Instagram made this move and what it means for your content moving forward.
What Exactly Is Instagram Removing?
What does, “Instagram removes likes” mean? The social giant will remove the number of likes other people can see on your posts. In other words, you’ll know how many people liked your content, but other accounts will not see a number.
If you’re dying to know, you can still tap on the “and others” notification beneath any post and see a full list of people who’ve liked it (although, be prepared to do some counting by hand).
Why Is Instagram Removing Likes?
In short, Instagram is removing likes in an effort to focus on the mental wellbeing of their consumers. Some users may associate their self-worth with the total number of likes they receive on a post. The public visibility of this number can act as a stressor, especially for young, impressionable fans who put a lot of emphasis on the value of a like count. The move is intended to reduce social comparison and encourage fans to focus more on sharing and connecting. In the words of Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri:
“It’s about young people – the idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them. But it’s really focused on young people.”
How Does This Impact Your Brand?
Social proof is a powerful motivator, and this holds true with how people react on Instagram. Without a publicly visible metric, some fans may decrease how often they’re ‘liking’ brand posts. According to HypeAuditor, an influencer marketing platform, there was in fact a drop in likes in test markets. That said, it’s worth mentioning that the study was only conducted on influencers and that HypeAuditor has a dog in the fight.
The concern for influencers is valid. Vetting influencers is done through engagement (whether by checking their page or asking for their metrics). Instagram has not announced a formal plan for verifying numbers provided by influencers.
If likes decrease, a curious side effect could be an uptick in comments. It’s possible some brands (especially mission-driven companies) may see an increase in comments as fans look for new ways to show support.
The move will cause some changes in Instagram’s ecosystem. So, if you’re feeling nervous, it’s essential to pay extra close attention to any insights, analytics, or monitoring tools you have. If you aren’t using any, now could be a good time to invest; any additional performance data you have could give you a leg up when reacting to changes.
Is Paid Media the Answer to Instagram Removing Likes?
This changes serve as yet another reminder of the importance of paid media. If the changes lead to a decrease in engagement, you can offset the loss of likes by increasing reach through a paid media budget. This importance isn’t new. Since the earliest introductions of the pay-to-play market, the importance of likes has dwindled, serving predominantly as a proxy to how your content is resonating; these recent changes only reinforce the value of a strategic, targeted media plan. If you already have a paid media budget, the changes shouldn’t dramatically impact your brand.
Maybe navigating the platform in the wake of changes feels overwhelming, or your brand is ready for paid media but aren’t sure where to start. If that’s the case, there are so many great resources online to help you out, and of course, it never hurts to enlist a top social media agency, (#shamelessplug).
How to Drum Up Engagement on Instagram
If you’re not ready to commit to a paid media budget, likes and engagement still hold some value. If paid media isn’t in the cards, it could be time to return to some of the earlier social media tactics, including contests, giveaways, social-only offers. Encouraging the tagging of friends and soliciting comments could also help keep engagement up.
TLDR: Instagram Removes Likes
- Instagram is removing the ability to see how many likes other accounts receive.
- The change is part of an effort to improve mental wellbeing.
- The policy was tested extensively abroad before coming to the United States.
- There isn’t much data yet, but you may see a decrease in organic engagement.
- A commitment to paid media can increase reach even if your engagement rate dips.
- Reporting tools will provide you with the analytics and insights needed to react and adapt your content to algorithmic changes.
- If these are not at your disposal, look for other ways to increase your organic engagement.
To learn more about other recent changes to platforms, check out our article on Facebook’s big announcement.