Instagram has decided to hide like counts from user’s feeds. The company has explained this choice came from an effort to remove any pressure or insecurities users might feel about posting to Instagram. It’s true, getting likes on social media can be addictive, and many users will go to extreme lengths to pull big numbers. When it comes to social media marketing, Instagram can be a powerful tool. Many businesses are left wondering what will happen once public likes are removed.
Business Value of Likes
There is a significant correlation between the number of likes a post receives and the success of that product. It is one of the quickest ways to get feedback on how the market is responding to your product. In business, the numbers mean everything. Social media provides direct access to the consumer in ways that other systems do not. Access to this information has been the key to success for many businesses and influencers growing their product through social media.
The second point of value comes from the viral nature of social media. We live in a world where over 90% of consumers will consult online reviews before making a purchase. Positive feedback can have a lot of influence on the buyer, and large numbers of likes indicate to buyers a worthwhile product. It provides a sense of credibility to your business in the public eye. In some cases, it indicates to a buyer what is popular and helps push revenue as users just want to stay on top of the latest trends.
One of the issues with the Instagram market is that many users exploit what they think are popular trends. If something gets a large number of likes, it tends to spawn a host of copycats trying to appeal to the market. Some believe that by keeping likes private, this will help encourage more creativity and ultimately improve the whole market.
Traditionally, if businesses saw that a post, let’s say about white chairs, got a lot of likes it would lead to a flood of similar products all trying to pander to an audience they thought wanted white chairs. In some cases, this was probably true, and it helped businesses provide products that people wanted. Yet it is also very likely that we will start to see a better selection of content available, which will be healthy for the consumer and business relationship in the long run.
In most cases if you are running a business account on Instagram you can still see the number of likes you get privately. This can still help you get good feedback on how your audience responds to your content in real time. However, it is unclear yet how users will respond if they don’t see the number of likes. Will they feel less inclined to engage with posts? Instagram doesn’t think so, but time will tell.
Also worth noting, is that users can actually see a list of who else likes a post. You won’t see the number of people (unless you count), but at the very least you’ll be able to see who in your social circle is liking what content. This could help businesses continue marketing product through social networks while also helping remove the controversy of likes as Instagram has intended.
We don’t see the changes to likes affecting large businesses who already maintain a steady following. As it stands, we don’t expect companies with large follower counts to start losing their audience as public likes are removed. If you have already established credibility on Instagram, rest easy knowing growth will continue. Now it may happen just a little slower than before.
However, it could be difficult for new businesses to get off the ground. Without social validation, users may not be drawn to content as easily. It adds an extra layer of required research for the potential buyer who can’t get immediate feedback on the popularity of a product. Instagram has claimed that the hidden likes will still accurately promote content for trending, but we still see this creating issues that businesses will need to start adapting to.