The internet has been abuzz about Instagram’s announcement to hide likes on posts in the U.S. The announcement came at Wired25, a tech conference held in San Francisco, CA, from Instagram chief Adam Mosseri.

Instagram tweeted that they want users to “focus on the photos and videos that you share, not how many likes they get.”

So, when will this update happen and what do you need to know?

When Will Likes be Hidden?

Many speculate that likes could be hidden as early as this week. So, if you open the app and don’t see a like count, don’t be surprised.

Instagram has tested hiding likes in seven other countries already. They say that they’re willing to make changes that could hurt the business if it positively impacts peoples’ well-being and health.

Here’s an example Business Insider shared of what the app looks like in Australia with likes hidden. Instead of a number, it simply says “others” have liked the image.

Screenshot of Australian Instagram account view with likes hidden in the app - photo from Business Insider.

Why is Instagram Making this Change?

Wired reported that social media researchers (yes, that’s a thing) proposed that an online platform driven by likes and engagement results in an “environment that makes healthy, happy conversations almost impossible.”

Social media users, especially on Instagram, will tailor their posts to whatever is getting them the most likes ““ not focusing on building organic communities, which is what Instagram is trying to get back to.

And, researchers have warned against the harmful effects Instagram likes may have on teens, especially teen girls. Chasing validation through social media, particularly Instagram, can be damaging to their self-esteem. And many teens are very interested in the number of likes they’re getting. So much so that they’re converting their personal pages to business accounts in order to get access to deeper analytics. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing until you remember that in order to convert your account to a business page, you have to publicly list your phone number and email address.

These aren’t necessarily new problems, but now Instagram is trying to do something about it. By taking the emphasis away from the number of likes, Instagram is hoping to steer the conversation toward community and engagement.

What Does Change this Mean?

The change is simply hiding the number of likes shown on a post externally, but you’ll still be able to see how many likes your posts get in the backend. So, if you’re used to seeing your favorite celebrity’s hundreds of thousands of likes, that’s likely going to be gone.

It’s also not going to impact all users. Just some. So, if you have a business page on Instagram, you may or may not notice this change roll out for your account.

What does our Director of Social Media, Dennis Wilson, have to say about this update? “As a marketer, the insights needed to inform strategy and tactics are still available. And as a father of teenagers, I applaud the change. I “Like” this move by Instagram.”

Engaging on Instagram

Whether you’re impacted by this change or not, you can (and should!) continue using Instagram to engage with your audience and build an organic community. You can also still target Instagram users with ads, you may just not see the likes those ads get on the frontend. And, that’s okay.

Instagram is about engaging and creating a conversation. Here are some best practices to consider for your business:

  1. Post authentic content. Users know when you’re being authentic or not, and they appreciate getting an inside peek behind the curtain when it comes to your business. Candid photos or videos, first looks at new products, and relatable content (think workplace woes or wins) helps build your audience and your brand on Instagram.
  2. Use hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to get discovered by new users on Instagram. Look for hashtags that are trending and see how you can get in on the action, and follow hashtags that make sense for your business so you can engage with them.
  3. Don’t forget Stories. Instagram Stories are great for a few reasons. One is that it puts your post at the top of the Instagram feed. The second is that it’s an ideal way to get even more real with your audience. A quick video entry about what’s going on at your business that day, a short post with a willing customer, or a quick snap of your vantage point right then all help to remind your audience that your business is made of real people.

Instagram, like other social media platforms, is always looking for ways to create a positive experience for users. By taking a step forward for the potential to ease away from harmful competition around Instagram likes, they’re hoping to create a safer and better space for users to engage.

If you’re looking for the best ways to use Instagram for your business, LOCALiQ can help. Our social media experts partner with you to create a winning strategy across relevant social platforms. Contact us to learn more.

And, speaking of Instagram. Are you following us yet? Connect with us here!

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