Once the change was made (it first rolled out in Canada and Australia), users could no longer see the number of likes a post received, unless it was one of their own.
Instead of showing the like count, posts simply displayed “and others” as an indication that there was some number of likes — it could be 20, or it could be 20,000.
At first, some brands were concerned:
Overall, though, most people are in favor of hiding likes on social media:
As with any big changes on social platforms, there can be drawbacks as well as benefits, mostly depending on why you’re using them in the first place.
Here are some of the pros and cons of hiding likes on Instagram, Facebook, and similar networks.
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Removing the number of likes a post receives can be a positive move. Many see it as a step in the right direction as far as mental health is concerned.
Specifically, here are the bright spots when it comes to no more like counts:
- More authentic content – Users can feel free to post what they genuinely want to post, not just content that gets the most likes. The removal of like counts encourages users to publish the images and ideas that are truly reflective of and important to them
- Improve online interaction with others – With like counts out of the picture; users may be more likely to interact with the post through comments and actual discussion
- Less anxiety over likes – Since other users won’t be able to see their like counts, publishers can finally let go of the need to compete over the number of likes — and, instead, focus on putting out genuine and exciting content. The stress and pressure of always performing is reduced, making people feel better
- Reduce incentives for grandstanding – Without like counts, users may be less likely to broadcast beliefs — and cut down those of others — on social media. The Atlantic wrote a great piece on the effects of moral grandstanding on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Of course, hiding likes on social media also has a few downsides, mostly for those users who benefit monetarily from social marketing.
Here are a few of the negatives of removing like counts:
- Fewer metrics – By removing like counts on posts, Instagram and Facebook take away one of the main indicators of engagement. Brands and marketers may lose out because users could be less motivated to like a post just because everyone else is doing it. It also makes it more difficult to determine how well a post or a page is performing – especially if you’re trying to measure against your competitors
- Reduce value potential – When Instagram strips away like counts, it removes “the tangible element of the service’s economy” as CNET Editor-at-Large, Jeff Bakalar, reports. The value of using Instagram has the potential to decrease with the elimination of likes
- Less revenue for influencers – It’s no surprise influencers thrive on like counts; it’s how brands gauge their effectiveness, and it makes them more money
Overall, most users seem perfectly content with the decision to hide likes on social media — the majority of them don’t even care at all.
The users who do seem to care the most are those who depend on engagement metrics for revenue. However, as the founder and CEO of CreativeIQ attests, brands don’t need likes anyway since they can “tie sales performance to other, sharper performance indicators to evaluate brand awareness, customer engagement, and ambassador effectiveness.” It looks like the pros outweigh the cons for almost everyone in this scenario.
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