Instagram Likes Are Going Away: Everything You Need to Know

  • by John Maduforo
  • Dec 10, 2019
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Sometime this year what started as a rumour was followed by an official announcement from Instagram sharing plans to eliminate the like indicator in the app.

Oh, don’t scream yet, because you’ll still be able to double-tap on your favourite content and like them, but you will no longer be able to see how many other people have liked that particular post.

While a lot of people love the idea, many others think its a very bad move and Instagram can’t just wake up and do this. Well…

I’m sorry “dear”, but this platform is just rented land and Instagram is the Landlord who has been tweaking the algorithm without our permission for a very long time….so, yes, they can just wake up and hide likes too.

The first question here is

On the 14th of November, Instagram announced on its official channels that they were rolling out the private like update globally (they had previously tested this feature in Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and a few other select countries).

According to Instagram… “We want your followers to focus on what you share, and not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts”

A different side of this story has also been flying around — there is a rumour that Instagram may have done this to address complaints that young people’s mental health is being affected by likes (which has become a scale for validating your work on the app) or that this may be a strategic move to increase their bottom line by pushing brands to consider direct promotion since they can’t see likes on Influencer posts (although paid partnership tags allow brands to see analytics from influencers they partner with, so I’m not sure about the last story).

Another key question is…

Although the Influencer status is not determined entirely by the number of followers you have, almost anyone with a huge number of followers and likes on their posts can become an influencer.

Personally, aside from cleaning my account periodically, I have also deleted or archived posts because they didn’t get as many likes as I expected 🙈. A lot of influencers who place value on likes consider this update as a threat to their relevance on the platform, but it shouldn’t be and here’s why.

Influencer marketing has never just been about the number of likes. Working with businesses over the years has taught me that brands that know what they want, don’t care about the number of likes on your page. What they do care about is how their partnership with you affects both their overall brand equity and their bottom line. This is why they pay for your influence and ability to represent the brand instead of likes.

It’s important to note that the role of an influencer is similar to the role of a Brand Ambassador and that is why brands should not limit their focus on the number of likes an influencer gets but rather on two very critical elements.

  • Does this influencer represent the brand well publicly?
  • How does his/her audience respond to posts (quality of conversation)

Counting how many times I have double-tapped on a great picture without checking the caption goes to prove that the like count is a rather shallow engagement metric.

Comments on the other hand, regardless of the number, can tell a brand if the audience finds resonance with an influencer and responds to him/her by ultimately taking “expected” action.

While some business owners may know how important this is to their brand, others often wonder why they need to be clear about these two things before engaging an influencer.

Brands also need to pay attention beyond the number of comments on an influencer’s post — the quality often trumps the quantity of the engagement. From the quality of comments, you can tell whether followers read through the posts.

Here are a few tips on how to tell…

  • Do they ask relevant questions based on the post
  • Do they contribute to the content information
  • Do they start conversations
  • Do they share their experience using similar products or services or from similar experiences (the list goes on…)

Advice for Creators/Influencers

Comments are the new likes and the key here is to create relatable content for your audience. This is so far the easiest way to validate yourself and continue to attract collaboration even after likes are gone.

Well… I’m not necessarily worried about people leaving the platform when likes disappear… every other uninvited change users will quickly get used to it and move on fast.

We will also see more creative and relatable content from brands and influencers etc…..Overall this will make Instagram a mentally healthier place to be.

What do you think about this change and how it may affect you/your business on the platform?


John Maduforo

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