The landscape for social media has seen drastic shake-ups over the past few years. Many of these giants seem to have only now become aware of their capacity to influence the landscape of society for good or for ill.
Mental health crises strike the generation who grew up with their whole lives online. Politicians use social media as ninety percent of their platform. Clearly, social media has changed the game in unprecedented ways.
Instagram is putting forth an effort to combat its negative contributions by hiding likes. But with Instagram likes gone from view, how will influencers and businesses survive on the platform? Here’s what you need to know.
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First, Are Instagram Likes Gone for Good?
Despite what some grim headlines might have you think, the “like” is not finished. Are Instagram likes gone? No, they are not. The “like” is still a crucial part of the platform.
However, if your Instagram likes have gone down, or seemed to, it may be because they are now hidden. This hiding applies to both casual browsers and those who run business accounts. However, there are still ways to track these likes, even if the app itself no longer does. We’ll discuss that in further detail later.
Why Has Instagram Taken This Step?
It seems like a drastic step to hide something that formed the very foundations of the platform. With likes gone from Instagram, some think that it spells the end for the social media giant. So, why in the world would a company with so much to lose take such a massive step?
Protecting the Mental Health of Users
One thing that social media magnates have been forced to reckon with in recent years is the sociopolitical ramifications of the platforms they’ve constructed. While almost everyone knows that the photos of the live people post on Instagram have been heavily staged, it doesn’t change the impact this can have on our sense of identity.
Younger users, especially, don’t have the tools to navigate the fact that these photos they see every day, even of their best friends, have been staged, filtered, and edited beyond belief. So, when they see that a selfie their friend posted got more likes than theirs, they take it as an attack on their looks, not their editing, lighting, and staging ability.
Instagram likes are gone now from the view of young teens who would compare themselves with their peers by that metric, and that can only help their mental health.
Potential to Cut Down on Spammers
As long as Instagram likes have existed, there have also existed methods for purchasing a following that you couldn’t grow organically. By removing likes as an easily seen and bought metric, Instagram may well be able to cut down on the number of spammers and bot accounts that flood the site.
Might Extend Usage
Some more cynical viewers have argued that with Instagram likes gone, you’re going to comment, share, or otherwise engage with the post, extending your time in the app. This may well prove true, but it will require both users and influencers to focus on engagement rather than simple “like” farming.
Can You Still See Your Likes?
Within the app itself, Instagram likes are gone. However, if you need to verify like counts for some reason, you can find third-party tools that can give you those metrics. We must caution against the use of such tools, as their information may not be accurate, and it defeats the purpose of what the platform is attempting to accomplish.
What Do You See With Likes Hidden?
So, if you live in an area with the number of likes gone from Instagram, what do you see instead?
For posts with less than a hundred likes, you’ll see the latest liker “and others”. If the post has over a hundred but less than a thousand likes, you’ll see the latest liker “and hundreds of others”. Over a thousand but below a hundred thousand will show “thousands of others”. Over a hundred thousand but less than a million will display “hundreds of thousands of others”.
And, naturally, if your post hits over the vaunted million likes, you’ll see “millions of others” like your post. So, you can still vaguely track likes, even if the gritty numbers no longer exist.
How Hidden Likes Help Your Business
Now that you understand the what, the why, and the how of this drastic change, let’s get down to business. How can these new hidden likes affect your bottom line in a positive way? Some ways that this adjustment can benefit your business include:
Smaller Businesses Can Compete
When Instagram showed your like counts for all to see, it was borderline impossible for new or small businesses and influencers to get a leg up unless they caught the eye of a much larger account. Now that the counts are hidden, smaller or newer operations can blend in and gain credibility where they would have languished in the shadows of giants.
You Can Shift Your Focus to Meaningful Metrics
Likes, as a metric for engagement, are honestly garbage. They are the epitome of a vanity metric because it takes negative effort to double-tap a post on Instagram or hit that little heart button. You can have tons and tons of likes and still languish as a brand if you neglect other, more important metrics like customer satisfaction and hard sales numbers.
With likes now hidden, you can focus more on metrics that actually matter for your bottom line and not those that make your brand look better off than it is.
Greater Focus on Community Engagement
While the number of likes will be hidden, the number of comments a post receives will not. If you post something that only gets likes and no comments, chances are, you’ve failed to engage your audience. Now, your business and brand will have no choice but to craft engaging content that brings in your audience and invites them to discuss and comment.
Instagram Becomes Less “Pay to Win”
As long as Instagram has been around, there have been methods for buying instagram likes. If that’s how you want to get your business to the next level, then so be it. However, the viewable likes led to this environment where you almost had to buy likes or followers for your account to get seen.
The removal of this feature means that marketing can occur on a more even footing. You no longer have to pay to win, or even play.
How Hidden Likes May Harm Your Business
The backlash to this massive change to the platform is not without reason. There are many ways that Instagram hiding like counts can harm your business. These potential harmful consequences can include:
Harder to Gauge Influencer Success
Likes were a common way to gauge the success of an influencer partnering with them. If businesses can no longer see the number of likes and follows that an influencer has, it can make it even harder to discern who might be worth the investment or the partnership.
Punishes Businesses That Relied on Vanity Metrics
There’s no nice way to state this. If your business relied on massive number counts of vanity metrics like followers and likes to inflate its importance, then you’re going to struggle unless you rethink your entire marketing strategy. This adjustment forces any and all businesses who focused too hard on metrics that don’t matter to adapt or face extinction.
Which fate awaits your business depends on your leadership.
May Need Higher Budget for Content Creation
Before, brands could take a backseat and let the amplified accounts of users with a lot of likes speak for them. Now, you may need to throw more of your marketing budget behind content creation, rather than leaving it in the hands of a few well-placed influencers. Marketing will become more expensive, but more effective.
Reduced Sense of Authority and Expertise
One potential major drawback of Instagram removing like counts from public view is a reduction in the authority and expertise once afforded accounts with high likes. Without such a blatant display that many, many people agree with their ideas or posts, some users might see reduced engagement. But if said account makes a legitimate effort to engage with its followers and create interesting posts, this seeming loss in credibility should not harm it.
Instagram Likes Gone: Let’s Review How it Affects You
With Instagram likes gone, banished into the closet, many businesses and brands are reeling from the impact. There are many benefits to this drastic step, including increased engagement, improved mental health, and a reduced amount of spammers and bots. However, it could potentially damage those who came to rely on the metric as a sign of their success to investors and others.
If your company needs to adjust its marketing strategy for Instagram in the wake of this sweeping change, why not check out our blog for some ideas? We update each day with more helpful and informative tech articles like this one.