Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have long been breeding grounds for popularity contests and self-judgment. “How do I get as many likes as that influencer?” “What is she doing that I’m not?” In an effort to reduce this competitive user behavior, Instagram has made the decision to start hiding like counts and video views on posts from US users as early as this week. Now, this isn’t Instagram’s first move. This change comes after having conducted similar testing in other countries.
You may be thinking, “Well how will I have any idea what content is working and what content isn’t?” It’s important to know that like counts won’t be disappearing altogether; users will continue to be able to see how many likes and views their own posts have received. What is changing is that like counts and video views will no longer appear in public feeds, and will no longer be visible to followers.
So, what does that really mean exactly? All Instagram users will still be able to measure engagement (interactions compared to followers) and reach (the number of people who see our posts) of our content. The analytics aren’t going anywhere. This means that you can continue to track your content performance and make strategic decisions based on results. It will remain clear which of your posts were successful, and which weren’t quite as successful. (Live and learn, right?)
There is, however, one way in which the change affects users moving forward that we do feel is worth noting. From a brand perspective, the lack of public like counts and video views on posts means that all Instagram users won’t be able to easily compare their metrics to those of competitors. Clicking on a competitor’s Super Bowl post, for example, won’t clearly indicate how their post’s performance compared to yours, and really, that was the whole point of this change. Instagram wants to reduce the degree to which users are comparing themselves to others. That being said, comments and overall follower count—both of which aren’t going anywhere—will continue to be strong indicators of performance. If users took the time to post comments, they were clearly engaged with the content, and a high total number of followers means an account is doing something right.
Feeling concerned about how this platform change will affect your goals of promoting yourself or getting your brand name out? Don’t. Sure, this is a major update, but it remains to be seen if it will have any kind of effect on user behavior. The way we see it, Instagram users will continue to like content that speaks to them, and individuals and brands will continue to be able to see that information on the backend, allowing for strategic decision-making. Individuals and brands that continue to produce strong content will continue to see strong results, resulting in highly engaged followers and optimal brand awareness. As this platform change plays out, we will continue to monitor it closely, and will, as always, report back with updates.