Instagram is removing likes from instagram. For over a month now, rumours spread that your likes would disappear from the social platform.

Now, the next phase has begun and the social media giant is changing how people view your content engagements. Short story: Instagram is removing likes and it matters. 

When the testing phase was first showcased by users who’s likes had disappeared, the notification from instagram read:

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”

For many marketers, growing a presence on instagram is a big part of their social media marketing strategy. Instagram removing likes means a big shift in how users behave on instagram and how marketers will measure success. Here’s a few ways instagram removing likes will impact your average user and a few hypotheses on why they would remove likes in the first place.  

Photo of Instagram likes leaving

Removing the need to buy fake likes on Instagram. 

Have you heard the news? Facebook and instagram are cracking down on bots, fake followers and purchased likes. They are doing everything they can to put a stop to accounts made for unsavoury purposes.

They even launched a series of lawsuits against companies selling fake likes for instagram posts. This all in attempt to show they are serious about fighting fraud:

“By filing the lawsuit, we hope to reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated – and that we’ll act forcefully to protect the integrity of our platform.”

Removing likes from Instagram removes the desire to boost their number of likes. Artificially adding engagement on posts might help you reach larger audiences, convince marketer’s to sponsor you as an influencer or just impress your friends. Removing likes completely could create a more quality driven instagram experience.

Removing Robot likes from instagram.
Bye bye, robot engagements.

Fraud, influencer marketing and finding Instagram influencers.

While this might not have been a goal for instagram, it certainly impacts how marketers measure the ROI of influencer marketing. Unfortunately vanity metrics are still fooling marketers into sponsoring creators. While some focus on the real return on investment, many are measuring based on likes.

News flash: Likes don’t pay the bills.  

My company is helping companies find instagram influencers and Twitch influencer marketing.  My perspective is that this is a good thing for the industry. Some folks will be crushed. Their whole strategy might have been based collecting hearts. But the strong shall survive.

For marketers still relying on likes as a measurement of influencer marketing success, this will be a wakeup call.  Now, they will be relying on more financially viable metrics like user acquisition, referral traffic and the quality of the users acquired from influencer marketing. This will be a very valuable shift for their businesses.

Calculating engagement rate when finding influencers will also become more difficult. For marketers, this is one of the go-to metrics when manually finding instagram influencers. Counting post likers will hurt for companies still trying to discover influencers manually.

Removing likes, focusing on quality. 

As humans, we all have the itch to climb hierarchies. Having more likes than your friends scratches that itch. Instagram’s business model is based on how much time users spend looking at the app. When users only check  to see how many likes their photo gets, they don’t spend as much time absorbing content (and ads).

liking instagram posts

If people’s behaviour shifts to spending more time viewing other content and less viewing their own, they can sell more ads. If instagram can foster better conversions and higher quality content, they can keep users on their platform longer. Removing likes might be one small experiment on the path of instagram’s mission to retain user eyeballs. In the long term, that’s good for their bottom line.

So say goodbye to those tiny hearts.

Luckily, you can still view the likes on your own posts. Most likely you will still be able to moving forward. The dopamine rush of seeing your like count increase is something instagram won’t want to impact too heavily. It’s part of what keeps us going back for more.

The testing phase for likes being removed has initially been rolled out in Canada, but has also been reported in a few other places. It’s possible they decide to go back on this decision, but I think instagram is going to stick with its choice to remove likes permanently. For the better.

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