If you use Instagram, you may have noticed a significant change in recent weeks: the platform has gotten rid of its “like counts.” In fact, the viral photo-sharing platform recently elected to make like counts private for thousands of users globally.
While the change in like counts came as a shock to many users, it’s not a new policy. Instagram has been experimenting with hiding like counts from users for months. The Facebook-owned platform started by hiding like counts from groups of Canadian users, and gradually expanded the experiment to six other countries, including Japan, Australia, and Brazil.
So, why is Instagram removing like counts? And how will this considerable shift impact your agency’s use of the platform?
First Things First — Why is Instagram Removing Like Counts?
Instagram seems, at first glance, to be a platform powered by social comparison. So why would it choose, suddenly, to hide likes from users? At the recent Wired25 Conference, Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri explained the platform’s decision:
“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.”
Although creators will still have access to their like count, this information won’t be made public to other users. While the platform’s move may seem like an effort to make Instagram a better place, and to protect the mental health of its users (Instagram has attracted criticism in the past for encouraging toxic comparison), surveys have revealed that the majority of Americans don’t have a strong opinion about whether or not Instagram should display likes.
According to one survey conducted by The Manifest, 55% of Instagram users report having no opinion on Instagram’s new policy, while 20% of people supported it. Only 25% of users opposed the decision, although that minority is vocal, and includes heavy-hitting influencers like Nicki Minaj.
According to most users, though, the shift is a positive one. Many believe that Instagram’s move to hide likes will help to mitigate the adverse effects of declining organic engagement and keep the platform in demand among consumers. Still, the move leaves agencies wondering what to do in light of the disappearing vanity metric.
How Agencies Should Adapt to the Post-Like World
When it comes to agencies and their use of Instagram, the disappearing “like count” is a very positive step. Here are a few things to consider as you plan your marketing for 2020:
With the Right Approach, No Likes is No Problem
Don’t let disappearing like counts scare you. Hidden likes are not a problem as long as you maintain the correct approach to the Instagram platform. Influencer marketing, for example, remains a super-effective way to gain engagement and connect with users.
As long as you continue to provide quality content that speaks to your audience, people are going to continue to engage with it – whether their “likes” are visible or not.
You’ll Need to Start Focusing on Different Metrics
Again, likes are primarily a “vanity” metric. While likes can indicate engagement, they can also be purchased, en masse, from spam click farms overseas.
Now that they’re gone, brands who previously chased likes and prioritized that metric over authentic relationship building will have to shift their approach. This means analyzing how much value they’re offering consumers, and how balanced their interactions as a whole are.
Redefine “Influential” Now
Take this forced pause as a chance to sit down and decide what your brand sees as influential, and what it doesn’t. The next step is to develop a process for creating influential content every single time you set out to write something. The more you focus on creating authentic influence now, the less you’ll suffer later.
Let InThink Help You Connect Authentically
While the disappearance of likes came as a shock to many agencies, it is not the end of the world. In fact, it may represent a hugely positive shift for companies and an opportunity to focus on things outside of bloated vanity metrics.
If you’re not sure where to start creating authentic content this year, let InThink help.
Our team of growth-minded strategists will work with you to create a hard-hitting content strategy that meets your goals and enables you to ensure success in the new year.