We’re all familiar with the benefits of social media usage: networking opportunities, increased connectivity between individuals and ease of reach from businesses to customers. However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the world of Facebook and Instagram. Indeed, many members of these platforms feel pressured to post what they think will garner the most likes from other people, as opposed to posting about the things they really enjoy.
Why hide like counts?
The realization that social media usage was linked to lower self-esteem in individuals has prompted Instagram to minimize the competitive component of its platform and start hiding the number of likes on pictures. This change, which was first launched in Canada in the month of April, was later expanded to reach six additional countries (Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand) in July. Facebook soon followed, establishing a similar test in Australia starting September 27th.
The reasoning behind hiding likes and video counts is favouring quality over quantity. The point is to avoid the feeling of inadequacy felt by many when their posts don’t get as many likes as initially anticipated. Instead, Facebook hopes that this change will prompt people to post more and to feel comfortable and confident, rather than competitive, regarding what they post. This affects only a portion of Facebook and Instagram users and it is meant as a test for now.
What does this mean for businesses?
The change applies to posts from friends and pages as well as paid ads. The number of likes received on each post will continue to be visible to you and to anyone who has admin rights on your page. Users will still be able to like, react and comment on your content. They will also still be able to view the list of people who have liked each post, the only difference is that the total number of likes will not be shown.
Even though like counts won’t be available for all to see, they will most probably continue to be used in Facebook’s algorithm. This means that as a marketer, you should still encourage people to interact with your posts by liking, reacting and commenting, as these actions signal to the algorithm that your post is interesting. However, some Canadian influencers have complained that the change has lowered their engagement rates on Instagram.
What does this mean for the future?
Facebook wants people to keep using its platforms for years to come. For that to happen, Instagram and Facebook must keep their community aspect very much alive and thriving, rather than becoming mere popularity contests. For now, the concealment of likes is still in beta mode so we can’t be sure of its consequences yet. Based on the feedback it will gather, Facebook will decide if and when it’s ready to expand this change to other countries.
What does this mean for you?
Ensuite Media wants to know your thoughts regarding the recent privatization of likes on two of the world’s most popular social networking platforms. Have your Facebook and/or Instagram profiles been affected by this alteration of like counts, whether that be personally or professionally? If so, have you noticed a decline or an increase in the number of likes your pictures get? What do you think the greater consequences of this change will be? Tell us in the comments!