Instagram is hiding “likes” in the US – here’s what your business needs to know.

Note: This blog will be updated as changes continue to happen to US-based Instagram accounts. We are closely following all updates coming from Instagram for our clients.

Like it or hate it, Instagram has become part of our daily life. Whether it became a habit to take a picture of an “Insta-worthy” sunset or you now have a full Instagram marketing team at your company, Instagram has weaved itself into all aspects of business and personal validation.

And now it is all changing.

Last May, Instagram took away Like count in Canada and then expanded to several more countries including Japan, Brazil, India, and Australia as part of a global test. Note: this is all still a “test,” Instagram has not disclosed how they chose the experimental accounts, and the chosen accounts do not have an option to “opt-out.” It is part of Instagram’s quest to be the “safest place on the internet” states CEO Adam Mosseri.

The point of taking away Likes is to take away the pressure of crafting “Insta-worthy” by making it a safe space focused on connections, conversations, and community. This new emphasis to “de-pressurize Instagram” is also a reflection of the “meaningful connections” movement from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. You can learn more about Facebook’s biggest facelift in its 15 year history, that happened earlier this year, here.

At the F8 conference in May, Mark Zuckerberg explained that “As you scroll through your feed, there are no like counts…you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself.” If your Instagram page already looks like this, then you have been one of the 110 million chosen profiles to be part of the test:

What does this mean for your company, especially your marketing team’s strategy?

In a short 3 months after likes were hidden to the test group in Canada, likes were hidden for nearly everyone in the country. Since the test began just last week in the US, now is the time to start identifying what your new metrics will be. Meaning, businesses will now need to be creative in analyzing data and be more specific about what type of content is actually driving connections with their audience and sales. If you need advice on all of this, we’d love to chat.

With any big change, it is always the innovative companies that come out on top, and this is no different. If your company is savvy, this can be a really positive change. Instagram Stories don’t have public metrics and that hasn’t stopped companies and influencers from capitalizing on their popularity to drive business growth. Additionally, there are plenty of influencer and Instagram 3rd party platforms that provide analytics and insights that can be used to provide a new strategic game plan.

At the Wired25 conference, held on November 8th-9th, Mosseri said, “We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health.” This could lead to companies doing more creative marketing on Instagram to get the engagement they used to get with sponsored posts. For example, companies can begin to focus mainly on stories and working with influencers to see their posts get the reach they used to get with ad spend.

What could this change mean from a health and wellness lens?

Since the majority of our clients are in the healthcare space, mental health initiatives, like this one, are always at the top of our minds.

Dr. Dragonette, PsyD, says, “There is much evidence to prove that social media does negatively impact a user’s mental health and can often lead to anxiety, depression, bullying, poor sleep, negative body image, and more.” Instagram encourages comparison — not only with how many likes your friends are getting, but how great their lives look. Receiving a like “produces a physiological high by triggering our ‘reward cycle.’ This ‘rush’ or good feeling is due to dopamine.” But now, if you are the only one can who see the amount, getting those 100 likes may not trigger that high.

Kim Kardashian, who has over 152 million followers and is one of the top ten most followed celebrities, is all for hiding likes. “I find myself to be extremely mentally strong and I have people who are obsessed with likes and comments, and I find that to be really unhealthy.”

What happens next and if this change will work, only time will tell. However, since Instagram is owned by Facebook, keep a close eye on both channels as Facebook could soon follow suit.

If you are curious about how to take your company’s social media marketing to the next level in this ever-changing era, then let’s chat!