The Death of the Instagram "Like"

By Lauren Kenney

 

The use of social media has always been intertwined with the value of follower and like counts. Instagram specifically is a platform that gains organic engagement with more ease than its competitors. It was announced in April, at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference, that they were going to be testing the effects of hiding the number of “Likes” each photo gets on your page with a trial starting in Canada. Only the user will be able to see the number of likes a post has, but visitors to the page won’t. Instead of showing exact numbers, there will be a few usernames and profile pictures of those who have liked the post called out.

Jane Manchun Wong, technology blogger and app researcher and the first person to see Instagram’s new designs, noted that the intention behind the shift is that, “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” Studies have been conducted around the impacts of social media on our culture and have shown that social media has contributed to positives including the opportunity for self-expression, feeling of community, and the dissemination of health information, but it has had a negative impact on the rising rates of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep quality, and body image. The hope is the removing visible likes from Instagram posts will help to eliminate those negative impacts.

Instagram Likes

Image courtesy of Giphy

So what will this mean for your business?

We are totally on board with trying to reduce the negative cultural impacts that social media can have, but what are the other implications of this change for a growing business? One aspect that I will be interested to see is if the rate of engagement goes down because as people, we are are subconsciously prone to click like on posts that that already have a large number of likes. Otherwise, the impact on most businesses will be negligible. And for now, this is just a trial. We will have to wait and see if the changes will stick around or be released to the rest of the world.  
Have you noticed any changes in your Instagram engagement reports since the change came into effect this month?  Have you caught yourself looking for how popular a post is before hitting that like button? I would love to know!