Likes on Instagram: To Hide or not to hide them… that is the question, for brands

For a couple of years, we’ve been hearing that Instagram was going to eliminate the “likes” count on posts under the premise of giving greater relevance to other metrics that actually support the generation of quality content on the platform.

Basically, it is to reward featured and consumed photos, and not the popularity of whoever posted them, in addition to ending the business of selling “fake likes”.

Additionally, the platform was feeling the heat from public responsibility attending to the social pressure that many young people around the world expressed to be suffering. According to research, young people felt that they could not be themselves on the platform and had the obligation to show images that would improve their reputation, and the perception that others could have of them, even if they were not “real”.

Discussions and controversies surrounding said practice made the popular platform decide that it was not to be implemented in a mandatory way, globally, as Instagram realized that each individual, and each brand, has different goals, needs, and opinions.

So, what this famous social network did, starting last month, was to leave the alternative to show and see the likes that they add in each publication up to the discretion of each user and/or brand. Whoever wants to show their likes, can do so and whoever wants to hide them, can do so as well. This way, everyone is independently satisfied.

But… what are the advantages and disadvantages for brands that want to activate this new option?

It is true that not showing the number of likes limits the knowledge of trends and the most popular content of the moment, but it seems that the advantages of not showing it are greater.

Hiding the number of likes will help many people, and brands, reduce the stress of making unwanted comparisons with competitors and will get rid of limits to creativity when it comes to making posts that generate a greater connection with consumers.

It is no longer obligatory to develop content that brings meaningless amounts of “likes” and does not generate greater engagement between consumers and brands. This contributes to every brand’s motivation to communicate their message, in their own way and not be measured under an inconsequential vanity metric. And everyone can do it without feeling “less” popular than another that has or has bought likes to try and make a better impression.

No one can deny vanity metrics make you appear superior to others and buying fake likes is something that still happens daily, and contributes to distorting the way messages are perceived on social networks. It has also allowed the growth of phony influencers who trade their posts while maintaining a false sense of popularity and no real ROI.  But these practices only get brands farther from understanding their true performance and truly providing insights that help inform and improve future business strategies.

It’s about time something was done. There is no doubt that this is a positive change as brands who focus on vanity metrics may ride the “likes” waves for some ego rushes, but ultimately, will end up paying the price for the lack of conversions.  

How about your brand? Do you prefer likes, comments, or shares?