Facebook is testing hidden “Like” counts on posts in Australia. The author of a post will still be able to view the success of the content by tapping the liker list — the statistics are only hidden from the view of the public or friends.
In the new design, the number of likes is no longer shown. But with a simple click you can see who liked the post and even count them.
“We are running a limited test where like, reaction and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Facebook’s goal is reportedly to make people comfortable expressing themselves and to increase the quality of the content they share.
Instagram began testing a similar removal of likes in Canada earlier this year.
But what does Facebook and Instagram hiding likes mean for your business?
Some people worry it’ll lead to a drop in user engagement, making it harder for them to promote products they market on social media. But we say don’t worry about this change too much. Why?
For the regular, non-influencer Instagram or Facebook user hiding the number of likes actually probably doesn’t make too much of an impact on your use of the social media platform. It’s still a place to post your personal or business content and spread a word across the world.
The number of likes a post on Facebook and Instagram can be seen by everyone — and that matters, especially to businesses and professionals tracking them for data and to make money off their reach.
This change could only pose a challenge for influencer marketers. Likes are commonly used as a popularity gauge for those of us who want to dig a little deeper than just follower numbers; average likes per post, along with comments, give an idea of how much actual visibility and influence the Instagrammer has with their social followers.
As a relative newcomer to the digital industry with limited tracking capabilities, influencer marketing has mostly existed in the same realm as TV and OOH platforms, where objectives focus more on brand exposure and authority building than direct traffic and sales.
As focus on likes decreases, the natural progression of influencer marketing as it grows is to become more focused on actual sales. Reach, comments and likes will still have their place as valuable in-app metrics, but influencers are likely going to be called upon to live up to their name and prove they can actually influence consumer behaviour.
Click-throughs to website will become more important, but the next big thing is undoubtedly going to be Instagram’s new shopping tool for creators. For those with big following, the ability to sell directly to their followers within the app will give influencers a huge bargaining chip with brands, and provide marketing teams with a powerful ROI to prove the power of influencer marketing once and for all.
What can brands and influencers do to stay ahead on a like-free Instagram?
It’s more important to give customers a good experience and then maybe convert them. It doesn’t matter how many likes a photo has – authentic influence can only effectively be done through genuinely useful content. Influencers in a sans-’like’ world will have more creative freedom to post natural content, rather than worrying about what performs well in numbers.
It means that there will be a heavier focus on content rather than metrics, which is in line with a push from Instagram to create an algorithm based discovery. As a user you will be served the most relevant content rather than the content with the biggest engagement, which is a key strategy of Instagram.
For influencers, there’s never been a better time to pull together a good influencer media kit that shows your metrics in full – especially statistics such as click-throughs to websites. Influencers with higher engagement on Instagram are becoming more desirable than those with large follower counts. It’s all about content and value as opposed to likes and vanity metrics.
For brands, it’s time to get more creative with marketing data analysis. Get specific: which posts are actually driving engagement and sales? Likes can be empty currency – an easy number to show how content is performing. But your actual ROI is what matters.
For everyone, it’s still unclear whether or not the like-free feature will go ahead – and it’s likely to be months before we hear more.
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