It’s important to understand that likes are not being removed entirely. Users can still like other pieces of content, and they can still see how many likes their content received. However, it will no longer be possible to see how many people liked a piece of content posted by someone else, nor will it be possible to see how many views another user’s videos have received.
There are of course legitimate reasons Instagram made this decision. Although social media offers many benefits, it can also result in users often comparing their lives and popularity to others. When they see other people’s content receiving significantly more likes than their own, mental health issues can arise.
However, from a marketing perspective, this shift may make it necessary for influencers and marketers to adjust their strategies.
This is partially because the ability to see how popular a piece of content has long been core to social media influencer strategies. This may be due to social proof. According to the idea of social proof, people are more likely to take a certain action if they know that others have done so before them. For instance, if an Instagram user sees that a piece of content has received numerous likes, they will feel more inclined to like it as well.
After all, Instagram has already tested removing likes in this capacity in several markets throughout the globe. Influencers in those markets have reported seeing their content receiving fewer likes and video views after the shift. While the impact on their brand hasn’t been particularly substantial just yet, receiving fewer likes will affect the degree to which Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes pieces of content. This could potentially have long term effects on the popularity of various social media influencers. Additionally, monitoring engagement with posts helps marketers determine what types of content their audience responds to, and what types they do not. This is hard to achieve when content is naturally getting fewer likes.
That said, some marketers and influencers remain optimistic. They believe they will simply need to use another metric to judge their success in the future. Many already have. Several marketers report feeling that likes were always a relatively minor metric. They believe general engagement and click-throughs have always been more important. Thus, while some marketers and influencers might have to change the way they track their own progress, this might actually help them plan stronger campaigns in the future.