It’s really happening. After whispers that began earlier this year and out-and-out tests in non-U.S. markets, Instagram has revealed that it will begin testing hiding ‘likes’ count on Instagram posts on a global scale.
Some influencers are concerned about a permanent move to hide ‘likes’ will affect their, well, influence, but Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, says the move is about helping its users, specifically teens who research shows suffer mental health consequences from having their confidence measured by how many reactions each of their Instagram posts get.
Should you share influencers’ concern? In an Instagram world without ‘likes,’ will you know how you’re performing?
First: Users Would Still Be Able to ‘Like’ Your Posts…
…and you’ll still see how often they do it.
It’s just that no one else will be able to see how many reactions your posts garnered (sort of, see next point). What’s really happening with this change is that ‘likes’ are going away as an outward-facing vanity metric. But as the account owner, you’ll still be able to use them as one barometer of engagement with your content.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to look out for the ‘like’s’ quiet cousin, the ‘save.’ While it’s not possible to precisely attribute intent to one versus the other, the ‘save’ is especially handy for enabling a user to return to a piece of content. Are some of your posts attracting this signal that your followers want easy access to the information?
Are you getting impressions on your posts?
The one other party that will also be able to see how many ‘likes’ your posts are getting is, of course, Instagram. And they will continue to take that engagement metric into account when determining whether to show your post to followers (and on Instagram Explorer).
So in addition to the ‘likes’ you can see, impressions will also continue to be a measure of how engaging your content is to Instagram users. It might help to think of the ‘like’ as a voting mechanism—something that allows your users to say, “Yes, I like this content, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more like this.” Because that’s similar to how Instagram will continue to interpret them on your posts.
Are Instagram Users Taking Actions That Matter?
Again, while ‘likes’ can be an important signal—an indication of how well your content is resonating with followers—they don’t necessarily put patients in your office. So consider whether your followers are taking actions that bring them closer to your office, like direct messaging you or clicking the link in your bio.
Pro tip: Make that bio link count. Send followers to a contact page, your RealSelf profile, or another destination that promotes a meaningful next action.
Public Likes Are Dead. Long Live the Comments.
Likes might will potentially be hidden; comments will not be. And Instagram will also rate comments as it determines how often to show your post content.
Try to create content that elicits commentary by posting content that inspires your followers to talk back. Ask a question—especially one that encourages your followers to convey their experiences. Or post content that inspires followers to ask their own questions: think counterintuitive facts, video explainers, and thought-provoking quotes.
You Complete Me?
If you’re posting videos or using Instagram Stories, one great way to measure engagement is to measure completion. Unlike static content types, videos and Instagram Stories help you understand how effectively you’re sustaining attention.
But be prepared: a lot of viewers won’t watch past the first few seconds. You’ll want to insert the most important information right up front.