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Instagram Removing Likes and What it Means for Brands

Back in July, Instagram announced that they were testing the removal of visible ‘like’ counts in six countries. This change will likely be coming to the United States soon. Let us explain why this change will transform Instagram into a more brand-friendly storytelling platform.

  • Shift away from ‘vanity’ metrics. Instagram ‘likes’ are a form of vanity metrics – while they may make your brand look good they don’t always help you reach your true business objectives. In a similar fashion, Facebook ‘likes’ used to be an important metric that was highly visible until Facebook changed the News Feed to prioritize posts that spark meaningful conversations and interactions. The shift away from vanity metrics will encourage brands to focus more on worthwhile connections with followers and monetize their follower base.
  • Diversification of content. Many brands post content they know will receive lots of likes which results in similar or repetitive content. While the current algorithm may reward these well-liked posts with more reach, they don’t always serve the purpose of building the brand. In some cases, we have seen that brands who have a story to tell receive more likes on a product post than a story-driven post about the brand’s history. While a story-driven post may receive fewer likes, those likes are more relevant and the people behind them have a genuine interest in the brand.

Furthermore, this Instagram change will push users to reflect on why they truly ‘like’ a piece of content instead of just jumping on the bandwagon and liking posts that already have lots of likes.

  • Emphasis on quality over quantity. In addition to brands being able to diversify their content, the removal of likes will reinforce creativity and encourage brands to publish more meaningful story-driven content to differentiate themselves. In other words, brands will have to be more focused on originality to build an engaged community.
  • Better influencer partnerships. Similar to brands, influencers will also be encouraged to create content that’s true to themselves without being caught up in vanity metrics. This will help brands seek more purposeful relationships with creative influencers who aren’t trying to maximize likes but rather tell a story. As a result, we can expect more long term partnerships between brands and influencers.