The digital world is ever-evolving, and as the rumors of Instagram hiding'Likes' continue, it's only natural that we prepare for the imminent waves that are to come. (We obviously lost that battle with the chronological feed.) But how do you prepare when you're not sure how these changes will ripple through the digital ecosystem?It's essential to understand that it's not the worst thing that could happen. With this potential change, Instagram is taking the reigns and putting mental health at the forefront. For too long, social media has been a popularity contest, with likes and comments equating to social validation for many, ultimately linking social media to disorders like anxiety and depression. Too many times, we've heard, "This post only got 'x-amount' of likes! How embarrassing, I need to delete it!" And why should you delete what you wanted to post because it didn't have the vanity metric you were aiming for that everyone could see?By taking the public'Likes' count away, Instagram can get closer to what it was originally intended for: sharing content in an authentic and genuine way. The numbers game has taken away from that, making social media a clout rat race.It's important to note that'Likes' are a very passive metric of engagement. If this update can shift the focus back to authenticity and establishing conversations that build genuine engagement based on sharing what you love, then we're here for it. If you're a content creator whose business relies on engagement, you can still share your like count with potential brand partners, but let this shift your focus on conversations and substantial engagement rather than 'Likes'!)Don't just take it from us – to get some other perspectives, we tapped some of our social media expert friends to get key insights on how they predict this will have an effect on the digital ecosystem within Instagram. Read on to see how these eight experts are anticipating this potential new change.
Social and Digital Media Consultant + Host, Geekout with Matt Navarra"Instagram's hiding of the total 'Likes' counter on posts aims to change the behaviour of users on the platform when scrolling the feed and viewing posts. Rather than people being consciously drawn to how popular a post is/was, it hopes people will focus more on the post itself.Businesses and creators should not be overly concerned with such a change. Instagram still shows full details of who Liked their post(s) and other insights they can use to track the performance and engagement on their content. Benchmarking performance against other creators in terms of the total likes of posts will be impacted, but Likes should not be a metric an account owner focuses on heavily anyway, versus the various far more useful and meaningful metrics available to them.If Instagram rolls out this change globally, businesses and creators only concern (if any) will be focusing on understanding who their audience is, what sort of content they enjoy, and moving away from any content strategy that aimed to drive Likes - which would not have been the best strategy in the first place."
Visual Storyteller, Educator, & Entrepreneur at Beth Kirby + Founder, Local Milk "I think removing like count is going to be for the best for creators & the Instagram community because the truth is like count doesn't reflect your followers' response to your content any longer, it reflects the algorithm's response. This means the same exact photo posted on two different days can get 100 likes on one day and 1000 the next. When we remove like count, content will speak for itself. And the mental health issues and anxiety that social media has been shown to exacerbate will hopefully improve at the same time creators feel empowered to create from a place of inspiration as opposed to algorithm pandering. This means free, happy creators and more creative, experimental content for followers. I think everyone will win. As to the business side for influencers, brands will have to start evaluating them on the basis of their creativity, quality, and meaningful community engagement. And that's also a great thing. Likes were always a vanity metric in the end. I won't be sad personally or professionally if I see them go."
Social Media Manager, Create & Cultivate"The idea of Instagram hiding likes is a bittersweet feeling, especially as a social media manager. In the past, I feel like brands I've worked for get really caught up in the number of likes and don't focus on the quality of the content and the engagement with the audience. I think now there will be a more even playing field and we can all just focus on providing our audience with the best content. I hope this will encourage people to comment more, so as a brand we can have real conversations and build relationships with our followers."
Founder & President, EmpowerYou, Inc + Host, The Influencer Podcast"When it comes to likes, we have to remember there are still insights and analytics to track how much engagement a post gets. If someone wants to know how many likes a photo has, you'll be able to easily access that information. These social media platforms have the power to change whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. It's this exact reason why I've been saying for years not to put all your growth focus in one basket - in this case, the Instagram basket.This is one of the scariest mistakes I see influencers, bloggers, and content creators make. So many people are trying to build their entire business off social media platforms alone.We get so focused on ticking up our likes and trying to keep up that we lose sight of the two concrete components that are most important when growing a sustainable global reach on social media and beyond.The components are:
- Knowing who you are talking to (who your target audience and customer is).
- Knowing what kind of content they're connecting to the most, and focusing on consistently creating and repurposing more of that content so you can convert at a greater scale.
That should be your only focus if you want to be smart and scale with success using social media - not likes. If you focus on this, the engagement will come! Focus on serving the platform you already have, and your growth will not be dictated by likes, algorithms, or anything else you can't control! It will be dictated by you! Click here for Julie's step-by-step checklist to help you know who you're talking to, so you can build a tribe of raving, faithful followers - on and off Instagram!"
Managing Director, ANOTHER"My hunch is that community managers everywhere will cheer when Instagram officially hides likes. This is always what feels like a rather arbitrary metric on whether a piece of content was 'good' or not. There are better things to look at with comments and views being at the top of the list. As for content creators, I would hope that this helps bring them back into orbit when it comes to pricing but I doubt it will. Rates have always felt detached from reality with different creators, so I don't see why likes going away would change that."
Founder, The Style Line + CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL + Slow Stories Podcast"It's hard to say if there will be a uniform impact, as individual content creators and businesses may have different standards of measuring success depending on the size of their brand, the content they post, their posting cadence, etc. But as an advocate for slow content, at the very least, I hope that it will re-inspire content creators and businesses to prioritize value and quality just as much as visibility and quantity."
Influencer + Style Blogger, 9 to 5 Chic"My short answer: we'll all be fine.I started my blog in 2010 and I have seen this industry change dramatically over the years. One thing has held true throughout: the space and all of its players (content creators, brands, audience, etc.) are agile and can adapt to changes in spectacular ways. I still think there are ample opportunities for content creators to demonstrate value to brands: engagement based on sales conversion, rate of growth, saves and/or comments for example. And more importantly, I think brands over the last few years have become incredibly disciplined and nuanced in their approach: they're doing the due diligence and connecting their brands with content creators and audiences that are the right fit as a whole. Hiding one data point (among many) won't change that process."
Founder & President, Heighten Social"If and when Instagram enables users to hide likes on posts, content creators everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief. Many feel so pressured by that number that they'll archive or delete otherwise quality content that doesn't 'perform well', which is both a huge disappointment for the creative AND a waste of valuable time."
-- Whether you're nervous or excited about the potential change to the platform, it's important to be prepared for any change social media platforms may throw at us. As we mentioned, social media is an ever-changing space, and as much as we may protest change, we just have to be prepared for whatever the tides may bring. We hope with this insight, you can refocus your mindset on how you look at engagement and look at creating content with more heart that will bring in more engagement rather than a passive Like.
As always, stay tuned for more Instagram news and insights on the PLANOLY blog!