No more likes… should it matter?


No more likes… should it matter?


Friday, January 10, 2020

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Some time ago, Instagram announced it would be hiding likes for some of their accounts, so users would be able to see their likes but their followers wouldn’t. They then planned to extend this globally.

The response to this has been mixed, with some arguing that it is a good move to reduce the level of narcissism and insecurity some have associated with using the app.

Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri expressed that the goal is to reduce the pressure users, especially youth, feel online.

“The idea is to try and depressurise Instagram — make it less of a competition — [and] give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them,” he said at the Wired25 conference. “But it’s really focused on young people.”

He’s expressed that this was a test, and that they were unsure of the impact it would have.

“We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform — how they use the platform, how it affects creator ecosystem — but I’ve been spending a lot of time on this personally.”

But some influencers and celebrities are threatening to leave, as they are concerned about the impact it may have on their business model.
So, do likes matter to your business? depends on what you are measuring.

If you are going for popularity, then likes are great; likes show social proof.

Social proof is, in simple terms, the phenomena where people are influenced by the opinion of the crowd. It is, essentially, “informational social influence”.

For instance if you enter a restaurant and there is a long line of people, you are more likely to assume that the food is good, or there wouldn’t be such a long line. That restaurant would have social proof.

Therefore, for a business, the fact that you have 10,000 likes from followers could influence others to work with you because, to them, if that many people like your page, then you have got to be good.

In the beginning, likes were a big deal in the social media world. But when it comes to business, social media experts know that likes are what we term as vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics look good, but may not be a true reflection of your product, service quality or even help your business make money. The truth is, you can have 100k likes but it doesn’t mean that any of these individuals who have liked your page actually plan to purchase anything from you.

Likes and followers do suggest that someone was moved enough by your content to tap a button, but not enough to engage more deeply through a comment, to share your post, or to click the link and visit your website. The ultimate goal, my dear friends, is an actual purchase.


In addition, likes can be bought. And so can followers. Many people have bought likes, and Instagram has done more than one “like purge” before. This is where they have cleaned pages of fake likes and followers, which padded various accounts — even accounts of some big names.

Followers too, are just as flippant as likes. Again, not because someone follows your brand does it mean they are your ideal or target audience — or that they would purchase your product.


For influencers, losing likes could prove detrimental because they are paid by brands to use their perceived social proof to influence people in purchasing said brands’ products. This important source of normative pressure will no longer be available to them with their likes removed.

However, many argue that it isn’t a huge issue as “following” as a metric will still be visible, and other metrics such as comments, shares and direct messages will still be available.

Influencers will just need to become more creative in showing the brands which hire them that they are still able to influence their audience to buy their products.

As a business, the important thing then is to focus on higher-value engagement results — not just likes and followers. It’s OK to start small and grow these numbers, as they do matter and do bring social proof. But remember, they are not the be-all and end-all of your social media marketing strategy.

High-quality engagement (comments, shares) drive the Instagram and Facebook algorithms to share more of your content. These activities require that you spend more time in the applications, which is exactly what platforms such as Instagram and Facebook want. It also suggests that you have good-quality content. So the more comments and shares you get, the more people will be shown your post and hence, the more comments and shares you’ll receive. It is a not-so-vicious circle.

Finally, resist the urge to take shortcuts on your social media journey. Start slow and build your reputation. Offer quality and valuable content, and don’t try to serve everyone. Have a clear, focused strategy and disappearing likes will have no effect on you.

In conclusion, if you are an influencer, a loss of likes could matter so get creative early to find new ways to measure your value offer. For general brands and businesses, likes being gone might not affect much. Just keep sharing great content that will encourage users to be more active in other metrics that matter more.

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