Back in 2019, Instagram began performing tests on a small subset of users to determine the experience of hiding likes on the platform, with the intention of possibly expanding the practice to Facebook. Although nothing significant has changed since the testing began two years ago, what would happen if this practice of hiding likes becomes prevalent on Instagram and Facebook? For personal users, who may just be using these platforms as a way to show off cute pictures of their kids, pets, or vacations, it may be helpful to them to have the option to remove likes. Not all users want that extra unspoken level of competition, such as, Why did my picture receive fewer likes than the post my best friend made a few days ago? But for businesses, Instagram and Facebook have become an essential tool for brand growth and customer interaction. What would the implications be to businesses if the option to remove or hide likes becomes more mainstream?
Do Likes Really Tell The Whole Story?
Just because there are thousands of likes on a given post, it doesn’t mean they are quality likes. Confusing, right? There are companies out there who have capitalized on the craze behind likes by offering likes for purchase. But some of these purchased likes may come from bots or fake accounts, offering no real tangible benefits, and in fact it may even backfire. And although this isn’t technically against legal terms, it can potentially cause the opposite effect of what you intend to do. How can this be? Well, even if a business or influencer account has only a few thousand followers, but many comments or other personalized activity each day, that is often viewed more favorably than if an account has hundreds of thousands of page likes, but only a fractional amount of daily engagement or interaction. So, although likes can be helpful if they are from truly engaged followers, they don’t always paint an accurate picture of success.
Quality Influencers And Social Media Partners Are More Than Just Likes
So, how do you know if an influencer you want to partner with has actual, measurable successful interaction with human followers, or if that influencer has purchased likes to attract lucrative business partnerships? Building a following through organic methods is challenging, and frustrating at times, but committing to providing quality content, engaging images, and on-brand marketing to boost visibility is worth it. And when deciding to partner with an influencer, you need to ensure you are aligning your brand with an ethical influencer with quality measurable statistics who will not only give you likes, but quality interaction and conversions as well.
Don’t Lose Sight Of The Importance Of Comments And Shares
Regardless of what happens with likes in 2021 and beyond, businesses who are trying to grow their brand need to remember that comments on posts are just as important, if not more so, than likes. Often users will mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook, liking images or posts, but not truly absorbing the content of what the post is trying to accomplish. And that really doesn’t set any business up for a successful future. What does work is encouraging your followers, customers, and target audience to personally interact with your post by providing feedback, a thoughtful comment, or an answer to a question posed within your post. Give them an extra incentive to comment on a post by offering a special giveaway to followers who share your post, or run a contest to drum up attention. This is one of the best ways to get the right kind of attention, especially for small local businesses, rather than simply relying on likes. And by encouraging sharing of your posts, you will passively expand your reach among a diverse demographic of new potential customers or clients.
In The End, The Impact Remains To Be Seen
Overall, social media is designed to be a very personal experience. Giving users a choice of hiding likes won’t likely have a long-term impact on the use of social media as the high-visibility business tool it has become. However, it is highly unlikely that platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, built to foster personal and business interactions, would turn their back on their core audience by removing likes on all accounts. But in the meantime, it is always a good idea to focus on comments and shares to build a solid business strategy both now and into the future.