After Instagram announced their decision earlier this year to trial the removal of likes from posts, Facebook are now following suit.
Head of Instagram Adam Moserri sparked the initial discussion, after announcing at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that the image-led platform would be trialing removing the number of likes on posts in certain countries. The move has been hailed by some as a step in the right direction for mental health, in that it could help users stop attributing such significance to likes and viewing them as an indication of social acceptance.
With the trial now live on Facebook across user accounts in Australia, the social media platform has begun hiding the number of likes from posts including ads, with the latter being particularly controversial amongst social marketers. While the account owner will be able to view the number of likes on each of their posts, this won’t be visible to other users.
While it’s easy to jump to some pretty negative conclusions about this potential shift in the platform and question where it will leave you and your brand—particularly when the success of your campaigns is often measured and monetised by engagement—there are lots of arguments to position the move as a positive one.
The Definition of Success
A major pro for the removal of likes is that could help you to re-focus on creating high quality content that best represents your brand. If your content is resonating with your audience and, as a result, generating likes, it’s likely your content is conveying the message you want it to communicate.
While you, as the brand, will still be able to monitor likes to inform your content strategy, the likes won’t be visible to others as a measure of your success. Instead, a ‘successful’ post would be one with a well-crafted message, strong visuals and thoughtful comments from people who are demonstrably interested in the post and what you have to say.
Comments being the only visible form of engagement could also be beneficial to your social media strategy’s payoff and the quality of the engagements you receive. In order to show their approval, your followers would have to take the time to craft and post a comment instead of simply hitting ‘Like’, thus encouraging more meaningful interactions.
Showing Off Your Excellent Results
This said, there are a lot of considerations that you’d have to make when communicating with clients, partners and influencers. Third-party metric platforms would be a must—whether you’re reporting your page’s performance to clients and partners, or requesting metrics from influencers you think would be a perfect fit for your campaign, transparency would be key to ensure your budget is well-placed and not wasted. With some influencers demanding fees that you and me could only dream of charging, the removal of likes could *in a perfect world* help to cap influencer fees, allowing you to refocus your budget elsewhere.
Learning From Your Competitors
One of the main downsides, in our opinion, is the impact that the removal of likes from social platforms in general could have on competitor research. When comparing your content to that of your peers, it would be harder to learn from what does and doesn’t engage with their audiences on a quantitative level. Analysis would likely be much more timely, as you would need to read through comments in order to get a gauge for how their audience (which, naturally, you want to become your audience) is responding to the content they share.
Is This The End Of The *Social Media* World As We Know It?
While it’s natural to assume that such a drastic change on any platform integral to your marketing strategy could be damaging to your brand, it’s how you respond to change that can determine whether its impact is detrimental or lucrative. With the digital landscape being one that’s ever-evolving (thank god for the constant supply of new memes to feed my habit), it’s important that social media strategies allow room for flexibility and development, while enabling you to plan for the future.