Instagram: It’s Not About the Likes

by | Nov 14, 2019 | Instagram, Social Media

By now you’ve probably heard the news that Instagram is hiding the number of likes a post has received. They’ve already done this in several countries and now it’s being beta tested in the USA. 

At the moment it’s not happening to everyone, just a randomly selected few. However, I don’t believe it will be long before it’s rolled out to everyone. After only 3 months of testing in Canada, they expanded it to everyone. Unless there is a ton of backlash I expect it will happen the same way here. 

Hidden, Not Removed

To be clear, they aren’t actually getting rid of the likes. They are simply removing the ability to see how many likes a post from another account has. Each user can still see how many likes their own posts have, but those numbers are hidden from everyone else.

Why Hide Likes?

Why hide likes? That is a great question. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri says, “It’s about the young people. The idea is to 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.” 

That’s what it comes down to. They are trying to create a safe space for young people whose self-worth and mental health are wrapped up in how many likes they are getting. 

Recently, on an episode of CBS’s The Unicorn, a young girl got in big trouble for lying to her dad and going in a place she said she wouldn’t. When he asked her why she did it, she said it was so she could get a good background for her Instagram pictures because she was getting fewer likes than her friends. This is the world we live in.

It’s not that young people are trying to be a Kardashian and get a million likes. Most just want to be normal and fit in. They wonder why their friend got 10 likes and they didn’t get any. They question whether that means something is wrong with them. Removing the feature makes Instagram a safer environment by getting rid of those comparisons. Once you see their reasoning, it’s hard to push back against the decision.

What Does This Mean For You

Because you can still see your own likes, you will still have those analytics. You can tell what’s working and what’s not. You will need to be more focused than ever on your content and determine what is driving your business. Ask yourself what’s the message you’re trying to put forward and what kind of content do you want to put out? Remember, content is king. Branded, solid content will take your business to the next level.

Brands Will Be Truer to Themselves

Hiding likes will allow brands to be truer to themselves and post things that likely wouldn’t have before. For example, you may have been unwilling to post about a charitable event in the past because it would only get a couple of likes. You are now free to post that content because no one will see how many likes it getting anyway.

Adopt a Story Mentality

When you think about it, Instagram stories have always been like this. You can see who views them even though there are no public numbers on them. This hasn’t affected your willingness to post stories because you know they get the most engagement on Instagram. We have to adopt the story mentality for posts.

It’s a Safeguard

This is a mental health safeguard, not just for young people but for all people. This will help stop the whole comparison trap. This hasn’t been so much of a problem on Facebook because no one wants to take the time to scroll through someone’s entire Facebook feed. However, it’s so easy on Instagram to roll over that grid and see it on every post, back to back.

It’s Really Not All About the Likes

Hiding likes will force brands to really analyze what’s working for them. They will have to look at those stats and figure out which content is moving them forward and which content is stagnant. Bear in mind, it’s really not all about the likes. It’s about the community. It’s better to have 100 brand warriors than 1,000 followers that don’t know who you are. In the end, it’s your message, branded content, and community that matter most. 


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