Instagram is Hiding Likes – Should You Care?

Instagram doesn’t regularly publish statistics about how many businesses use their platform, but it’s over 25 million. How will these businesses be affected if Likes are hidden? This is currently being tested in Australia, Canada, Japan and a handful of other countries.

The view from right now

If you were to ask your peers about the best social media platforms for business, where would Instagram rank? Certainly not top of the pile.

However, the stats show that businesses should take Instagram seriously. In 2019, 80% of Instagram users follow one or more businesses. Furthermore, the proportion which take an action after viewing the post (I.e. clicking a link) is a whopping 75%! That’s a decent engaged audience in anyone’s book.

From the other side, 71% of businesses are active on Instagram, a trend that is not slowing down (unlike Twitter). This means there is still plenty of space for your brand to get noticed.

30% of the most-viewed Instagram Stories (the short-lived posts that appear at the top of the app) were created by businesses. 50% of businesses on the platform create at least one Story a month.

Isn’t this change bad for brands?

Not at all.

Pointing to the number of Likes that a post gets is pretty much the textbook definition of a vanity metric. If you aren’t getting clicks on the actual links, then the most that you can say is that your posts are briefly eye-catching.

Not being able to see the Likes that someone else’s post has accrued will prevent you from comparing this metric to your competitors. Instead, you can stay focused on metrics which really matter.

This isn’t even Instagram’s first time without a Like count. Instagram Stories have never had a like counter, and they are used by 200 million people per day. They’ve only been around since 2016, so that’s quite a growth rate.

What comes next?

When you’re thinking about what this means for your social media strategy, you need to remember that Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Only Mark Zuckerberg really knows what the results of this experiment will mean in the long term. However, it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that the test results will impact how Facebook itself displays likes, shares and other engagement. The results of this international test will very likely spread to more areas of social media. So, start thinking now about exactly what that would mean for your overall strategy.

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