Instagram began omitting Like statistics from newsfeed posts for a limited number of platform users. While some foreign markets were previously tested with the feature, this week marks the roll out of this highly anticipated test in the US. Users that are part of the test will no longer see how many Likes posts have in their mobile news feed.
Why is this necessary?
This change comes as a direct response to widespread criticism about the role social media plays in creating real relationships between people and brands. This has created a larger conversation about the responsibility of platforms like Facebook and Instagram to help quell what is considered “toxic” imagery and messages, creating a challenge to determine what more can be done to support the mental health of some users. Post Likes have long been considered a measuring stick for popularity and acceptance on social media platforms. By removing this qualifier, users can interact with online content without undue influence based purely on how many people have also engaged. Social media users must also be wary of other considerations such as conflated engagements from “fake” pages (known as Finsta or fake Instagram profiles) and bot activity.
What will this look like for users?
- No More Counting Likes: Post that selfie with no fear of rejection! Now, users’ unique content won’t be held up to what some feel are unrealistic engagement standards that may affect individual self esteem. Users will be able to see how many likes their own posts received in their own page’s post analytics, however will not be able to see this on other people’s posts. This change is primarily seen on mobile placements, with likes still visible on desktop screens.
- More Authentic Content: With this change, it can be assumed that the way publishers and influencers develop content may be affected. Many content creators use post engagements such as likes to determine what types of future content to develop based on how many positive (or negative) actions they receive. This can be an artificial response to a conflated demand that is not necessarily reflective of what users would really want to see from their favorite pages due to considerations such as virility, trending topics, and the platform algorithms which affect overall engagement on a daily basis.
- This is also likely to translate to ecommerce and retail campaign success measurement as it has become common practice to use post engagement as a guideline. According to eMarketer, brands will need to look to more low-funnel actions such as check out, in-store purchases and sales to gauge success of marketing efforts.
- More Sincere Engagements: Now when users like a post, it will more likely be because they actually like it and are not being influenced by the volume of likes that a post already has. However, this is something to be determined as post likes are still able to be counted on the back end. This was generally good news for most influencers who usually charge brands to promote their products and services by volume of engagement. We do not yet know how the hiding of likes will affect the platform algorithm and what criteria will be used to decide which posts to show users. This will be a major factor affecting the overall platform experience that will be directly influenced by the change.
What does Coegi think?
Generally, any movement towards an online experience that encourages a responsible, transparent and people-first approach is endorsed by Coegi. Not only do we appreciate the active concern for the customer’s mental well-being, the side effects of better quality content and more thoughtful strategy behind execution can only be an improvement in an environment that is learning more and more each day how to defraud and mislead its most valuable consumers.
We predict that those who adopt and adapt early will be the big winners in the transition. Influencers will be encouraged to onboard with tools that promote transparency such as Facebook and Instagrams Branded Content Partnership tool. This is just one in a series of evolutionary changes to the social media experience (we are sure there are more to come), and the best way to come out unscathed is to roll with the punches and learn as much as possible.
Smarter strategy that is fueled by integrity – count us in!