Instagram has long recognised that businesses use the platform in a different way than personal users do. Why else would they give businesses a different type of account to personal users?
So, when Instagram made the decision to hide likes on posts (for all account holders) I was, like many business users, interested to see what effect the change would have on both our reach and our engagement.
Let’s start with reach.
Overall, our reach is down since the change came into effect, and when it comes to our ability to engage with our community, we care about anything that impacts that in a negative way. The number of followers we have matters far less to us than our ability to engage with them, and we can’t engage with them if we are not reaching them.
Let’s be honest, Instagram users like to like, and they like to like what other people like.
By hiding the likes, people are not drawn to come and look at what everyone else is, well, liking. Yes, they can comment, but any Instagram user will tell you, it is much easier to like a post, and so this is what more people do.
We value these likes and we want others to see them.
The ability for people to see the number of likes on a post helped our customers feel confident about the quality and value of our products which, in turn, helped us get even more likes. And I think people liked joining in on something they saw was popular — at least, this is what I found in our community.
I fear that now that people won’t see the point in leaving a like, and will develop the habit of simply scrolling through posts without ever really taking the time to stop and consider if they would like to engage.
This simple change, that was perhaps done with good intentions, has had the effect of diminishing reach for business users.
The team at Snuggle Hunny has worked incredibly hard for our authentic, real engagement, and in doing so, have used the platform in the way that Instagram encourages us to. The work we have put into building a large community of followers was rewarded when Instagram scrollers could see the number of likes on our posts.
But now, a business with a similar following may appear equally as popular as my business, despite not having the same level of reach or engagement within their community, simply because users can’t readily see how many likes a post has.
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Another concern for me, as a creative business owner, is the very real risk this change poses to the way business owners use the platform.
I can see this change leading to a less creative community of business users, simply because you can hide behind the number of followers you have, rather than working as we do, to engage with our community in positive ways that benefit us and them.
I also believe it will be much more difficult to work with the influencers Instagram is famous for, because it is more difficult to see who really does have the ability to influence others without likes clearly visible.
The end result?
A far less interactive platform, and one that is dominated by those who have dollars and deep pockets for paid advertising.
I say, bring back the likes just for business users.