Disappearing Likes and the Importance of Engagement

November 27th, 2019 in Social Media 2 minute read

Instagram announced back in May that they were going to start testing hiding ‘likes’ on the platform.

According to Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, the decision is part of Facebook’s goal of making social media a less “pressurized environment.”

Hands up who has posted an image on Instagram and been disappointed when the likes don’t start pouring in? We’ve all been there. Some users even admit to deleting posts which don’t reach a certain number of likes. That’s a lot of pressure!

Man using laptop

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they get on Instagram, and a bit more time connecting with people they really care about,” Mosseri said.

Zuckerberg said as much during his keynote, stating “We want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”

Like it or leave it

The update, if rolled out, will mean that the number of likes a post receives will no longer be displayed using numbers. Images will only show a few select usernames who have liked the post and list the rest as ‘others’.

Hiding the number of likes is a huge update for the platform, with the number of likes a post gets something that has long been used as a metric of success, whether rightly or wrongly.

Many influencers and celebrities have come out in support of the decision, citing the potential mental health benefits and focus back on authentic content as a positive move.

Kim Kardashian-West said: “As far as mental health, I think taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from [Instagram] would be really beneficial for people.”

Instagram is currently testing the update worldwide with no date yet on when and if all accounts will be updated.

Our own Zeal Instagram is one of those accounts chosen to take part in the testing. The image below shows how the number of total likes on a post is no longer displayed in a total numerical form. 

Image post with likes hidden

However, the number of likes won’t be disappearing altogether. You can still see the total number of likes a post receives, it just won’t be visible to your followers.

To view likes you simply tap ‘others’ under your post to go through to the total number of likes, as shown below.

List of people who have liked a post

So, what does it mean for influencers and content creators?

Hiding likes puts the importance back on reach and engagement levels rather than the number of likes as a metric of success. The focus moves towards authenticity and a creator’s relationship with their followers. Creators with an engaged audience and high engagement rate will no doubt prosper. Accounts with fake or bought followers will fair less well, which can only be a good thing!

The success of Instagram Stories for both brands and influencers as a platform that doesn’t have any public metrics demonstrates that numbers aren’t everything.

I predict that (if the update rolls out to all accounts) then we will see an increase in long-term brand partnerships and brand ambassador campaigns.

The power and true value of influencer marketing lie in connecting the right engaged audiences with the right brands and products that are of interest to that audience. Here at Zeal, we use engagement rates and audience interactions as a key metric when working on influencer collaborations.

Get in touch to find out more about our influencer marketing services and how we can connect you with engaged and relevant influencers.

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