Instagram accounts around the world have been losing their Likes — not the Likes, themselves, but the count of likes, as seen in the screenshot below. Instagram Likes continue to be visible to account owners and they are used for analytics, but you can no longer see that a post has had a specific number of Likes, though you can still see the people who have liked it.
The change has rolled out to a number of countries, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The even-tempered English-speaking world, in other words, as well as Japan, Brazil, and various non-English-speaking countries. It’s a test, but we figure the U.S. will be included at some point.
One of our favorite Australian Instagram accounts is still showing Like counts, at least to us here in the U.S. So this change is being rolled out slowly and you have time to think about how to react.
Will the end of Instagram Likes affect your marketing?
For some people definitely.
Having lots of likes makes you look popular, at the very least. It might make you look legit. It might encourage people to Like your post, too, or to follow you.
Does it encourage people to come to your website and convert? Not in our experience. Likes are a vanity metric for most businesses. Posting things that get the most Likes is not the same as posting the things that get the most engagement and conversions, let alone the best contributions to the Instagram conversations you care about. Changing the metrics you pay attention to could make Instagram more valuable to you.
For Instagram influencers, however, this could be an issue. Likes are Instagram currency. That’s what gets you hired. And, like any other currency, you can buy them. Without Likes, Instagram influencers will no longer have a quick, readily verifiable metric to show their influence.
Or, as the New York Post put it, “Instagram is crippling young entrepreneurs.”
Why the change?
Instagram says they want you to quit worrying about Likes and start connecting with people in a more authentic way.
On their side are plenty of mental health professionals. Pew Research found that teens feel pressured to post things that will get Likes — true or not. Ad Age revealed that most of the buyers of Likes are not businesses, but individuals in their 20s. Not only can Likes push people into faking their lives for Likes, but it can also cause them to compare their own real lives with other Instagrammers’ fake lives.
Not good for mental health.
Not everyone believes that Instagram is being altruistic. They’d like to sell ads, too, and some have pointed out that people don’t Like ads much. As long as the Instagram algorithm (and people) rely on Likes as a sign of worth, ads have less value than a good influencer.
The Wall Street Journal reports an official “no” on that claim.
Mark Zuckerberg pointed out that you can still see the list of people who Liked a post. He even pointed out that you could count the number of Likes up yourself “if you have the time.”
If Likes won’t be your top metric — if only because you don’t have the time to count them up — how can you tell whether Instagram is doing you any good?
- Does Instagram send traffic to your website? We rarely see a website with more traffic from Instagram than from Facebook. However, if your Instagram referrals are increasing steadily or if they convert more than other sources, it’s probably worth your while.
- Does your Instagram account add value? If you’re in the health and wellness space, your Instagram account can do more than just marketing. It can be a valuable part of your patient education strategy. Strong engagement, increasing followers, and good feedback can show the value.
- Do tests show movement on your business goals? If you post about a product at Instagram and see an uptick in sales of that product, you have evidence of the value of your Instagram account. Share a discount code and see how many people use the code. Change up the link to your website, and track how many people come to that page… even if they don’t immediately click through. Testing response can answer your questions.
Are you concerned about the loss of Instagram Like counts, or are you in favor of the change? Share your opinion in the comments!