If you are a regular user of Instagram or pay attention to the latest trends in social media, you’ve probably heard that Instagram recently rolled out a feature to hide the amount of ‘likes’ a post receives. The early feedback on Instagram hiding likes has been mixed with many lauding the increased focus on the content you produce, rather than feeling pressured to only post photos/videos that are expected to perform well. Hiding likes also strives to limit the reliance of valuing your self worth on the amount of likes you receive. For this reason, many parents have jumped on board with Instagram’s decision.
Inversely, the primary push-back to date has come from social media influencers. Because their income structure is sometimes tied to the number of likes/engagement a post receives, this new change can muddy the waters. Additionally, it may be more difficult for brands to find Instagram influencers to work with without requesting a media kit from each individual.
While most of the early discussion has been centered on how this change will impact influencers and personal accounts, we at Hiilite have been observing how these early changes might impact small business accounts. Have these changes effected how these businesses customers interact with their profile?
In this post, we’ll be comparing high-level metrics for 15+ business accounts from the first two weeks since Instagram began hiding likes, versus the two week period prior. We’ll conclude with what this might mean for business owners in a similar situation, considerations for the future, and how to combat any changes.
|Difference In The Average Amount Of Comments||Difference In The Average Amount Of Likes||Difference In The Amount Of Total Average Followers Gained||Difference In The Amount Of Average Followers Per Day|
The metrics that most accounts are concerned with saw a slight decline (on average). The most eye-catching figure noticed is that the average number of ‘likes’ on posts dropped by 43. It should be noted that the average number of ‘likes’ on the accounts that we examined was 171 – meaning these accounts have seen a 25% reduction in the amount of ‘likes’ they’ve received on average. Assuming that these numbers aren’t due to lack of quality content, does this mean Instagram users might be more selective with their ‘likes’? Maybe they ‘like’ posts less due to not feeling the need to conform (i.e. ‘like’) posts that have already received a significant amount of ‘likes’ from other users.
This would be in-line with Instagram’s initial announcement when the feature was released.
We want your followers to focus on what you share, 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.”
Comments also dipped by three on average after Instagram began hiding ‘likes’. Perhaps this is in line with the correlation between those who ‘like’ a post, may also be more inclined to comment?
Like any good blog disclaimer, we need to establish that these results are based on a very small sample size. Also, this case study doesn’t account for variable factors that come in to play with respect to Instagram posts’ performance. For example, a particular post during the pre-Instagram hiding ‘likes’ period may have been posted at a sub-optimal time and/or the subject matter greatly differed from previous posts.
Because there is a small sample size, an account that deviates quite significantly from others can skew the results. However, average numbers were used in effort to reduce the amount of ‘noise’ in the data.
What Instagram Hiding Likes Means For You
These results seem to indicate that the desired effect is in place. ‘Likes’ always seemed to be a vanity metric, too often inflated by purchasing and/or other workarounds aimed at gaming Instagram’s algorithm. Here are some more thoughts on how this case study’s findings may impact your account:
Place increased emphasis on your accounts analytics. Our case study noted that our accounts received less ‘likes’ overall. However, the jury is still out on whether this is specific to our accounts or whether it may be a platform-wide consequence as a result of the feature. Because of this, it will be crucial to monitor your Instagram Insights to determine if your deep level analytics are being impacted (such as: impressions, profile visits, demographics, etc.). If these are seeing decreases, it may be that your content no longer resonates with your target audience and you need to re-evaluate your social media strategy.
If you’re a Instagram business account, more of an emphasis will need to be placed on the market research ahead of launching a campaign. If you aren’t sure what type of influencers, enagement, content actually drives sales and impacts your bottom line, losing the ability to rely on ‘likes’ as a metric is only going to exacerbate these issues.
Due diligence when working with an Instagram influencer will need to be more thorough. Tools on the marketplace today will scrape an Instagram profile’s engagement metrics in a matter of seconds. What happens when these tools are unable to do this anymore? A more thorough combing through the comment sections of potential influencers is likely to result. Be sure to look for disingenuous comments aimed at inflating the overall comment number or the number of replies to comments by the account holder.
If you’re an Instagram influencer without a media kit, get on it. Make life easy on your potential partner by proactively compiling the key metrics for them. As has been discussed in this article, this change is making life more difficult on them, anything you can do to streamline the process is sure to pay dividends for both parties.
Enjoy the freedom of testing out new forms of content. Plenty of influencers have already voiced their pleasure at getting to increase the velocity in which they post content they actually enjoy. The easiest way to come across as authentic in your post is to actually be authentic. By posting authentic content, you’re more likely to create authentic engagement in your comment section.
There may be more pressure for businesses to shift to a paid rather than organic strategy. This is speculative, but without ‘likes’ as a metric, companies may feel that investing in ads on Instagram as a better solution to properly evaluate return on investment. Imagine Instagram was able to incur more revenue from a feature change that was so universally praised from a user experience perspective?
Are Instagram Hiding Likes Staying?
If we had to guess, this feature is coming to Instagram for good. The early returns to be in-line with the direction that Instagram (and society) wants. By reducing the vanity metric of ‘likes’, Instagram users and brands alike, are experiencing less mental stress and opportunities to experiment with more creative content.
What do you think? Are these features here to stay?