Big changes are about to cross the road of social media giants, separating marketers into two different camps. This time the debate is directed to the plan of hiding like counts on Instagram. Having the pilot trial that was launched in early April, the train of trials raised its acceleration. Moreover, a few weeks ago, a spokesperson of Facebook confirmed considering this option as well. So, let’s take a closer look what are the expectations from this process and feedbacks from the affected users.
The spokesperson of Instagram highlights that the platform is constantly looking for ways to reduce pressure between users and content creators. The latter comes in different forms; worrying about not being validated, destructively comparing oneself to the others, seeking the higher number of followers and likes in order to be noticed by businesses. However, hiding like counts leads to the transformation of this game. The platforms are trying to apply all-profiting solution seeking to protect their users mentally and to purify qualitative engagement. The metrics should be relying on the content and overall impressions, rather than quantitative setting of the fake influencers account with purchased followers. Regarding Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of social measurement platform Socialbakers, a fair environment will increase the trust and spend by brands, which is a win-win situation for both sides of the market.
Developer and blogger Jane Manchun Wong expressed her thought why this intention is positive for the marketers. The post on Twitter states: “We want your followers to focus on what you share; not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.” Reacting to the test done in Canada, a Creator Media Platform#paid decided to dig a bit deeper into the outcomes of the experiment.The primary goal to reduce the pressure seems to be getting further from reality. According to the survey, 45% of the respondents from the test group denied feeling less pressure comparing with 33% of those with like counts still being displayed. How is so?
The participants of the trial expressed their fear of posts being less liked because people would find it less important when it is hidden. Due to the algorithm, this kind of posts are recognized as less popular and decrease in visibility at all the followers’ feeds. Moreover, one-third of the respondents were complaining about receiving fewer comments and nearly half of them stated that the growth of their followers had slowed down. Lower engagement rates are throwing users to the disappointed and they lose interest in posting more content. The change has seeded doubts in the heads of sceptics; is it really for our own good or it is just a marketing trick?
However, flipside of the coin reveals positive attitude. Some respondents were relieved to not be able to see like counts of other people anymore, claiming that it helps to concentrate on their own content and constantly look for more creative solutions to interact with the audience. Furthermore, Joline McGoldrick, senior vice president of data and insights at Facebook Marketing Partner reminds us to think on a wider scale. For younger generations it is a formation of social comprehension and consciousness. “Removing the like button is an adaptation to the changes in how audiences are using and see the role of social. It’s no longer just about validation: It’s about content discovery, commerce and socializing with like-minded groups.”
All in all, the process has just started. Let’s not be rushed into emotionally justified conclusions before we can try it on ourselves. We want to believe that Facebook and Instagram will find a way to make it fair for all of us.