How Instagram removing ‘like’ visibility impacts brands

Everyone wants to be liked. It’s what social media is for, right? It’s proof that we’re interesting, engaging, popular and, well, liked. You may have seen recent news about Instagram expanding its test of a new strategy to not show the number of likes for a given post in the public feed. It is meant to create a more positive experience within the platform by making the environment feel less competitive to its audience. That all seems positive, but what does this mean for brands? And how should brands adapt to maintain and grow communities and engagement?

The good news is that brands will still be able to see and measure how many likes or overall engagements their own content receives. So, while the public will not see likes, brands will crucially still be able to see them for reporting purposes, as these data are used to create and optimize content.

The bad news is that this new system completely changes the advertising climate on the platform and the methods used to reach people. While influencers will certainly still play a role, brands will now have to be more discerning when partnering with them. Before, some influencers could really move the needle for brands through organic posts if they had a large, highly engaged audience, because the more people who liked an influencer’s content, the more likes that content would get, i.e., likes begot likes. Now, people will not see all those likes, this phenomenon won’t occur and brands will need a paid strategy (which they admittedly should already have) to amplify that content. Brands will also want a paid strategy for their own content not associated with influencers since the same, soon to be outdated likes beget likes principle applied to brand content as well. Without the ability to rely on paid influencers to disseminate brand messages organically to their audience, brands will be forced advertise their own content and influencer content.

Additionally, as a brand steward, you will no longer be able to go onto Instagram and verify how many likes a given influencer’s content has, so you should review your partnership criteria to reflect this change. The upside to this is that brands will now have greater control and visibility into the effectiveness of their influencer partnerships when utilizing paid ads to promote.

So, you may not have automatic bragging rights if something “goes viral,” as they say, but you thankfully still have the ability to shine on Instagram when utilizing interesting, engaging content. And truly, that’s always been the way to shine.