What Instagram’s hidden likes means for your brand

Visibly going viral may be a thing of the past, and other revelations.

In July, Instagram tested the removal of likes in several countries. This of course, was not announced by Instagram itself, but rather by a reverse engineer named Jane Munchon Wong, known for finding unreleased features hidden in the code of major social apps. Technology has a way of becoming its own monster, and the Facebook-owned app is now finding ways to get us to stop chasing likes instead of chasing great content. Should the trial be successful, it may be rolled out worldwide. There are murmurs that Facebook is doing the same trial, which indicates that the test is not a failure.

How it will work
The like count will not completely be eliminated, but will only be visible to the person posting the content. Followers will only be able to see the comments beneath the images. A major reason why this is being done is to reduce the amount of pressure on users to up their like count, which has wrecked havoc on the mental wellbeing of impressionable teens and millennials, many of whom measure their self-worth by the number of likes their images receive (it must be said though, that keeping likes visible to the poster won’t necessarily solve this problem). The new feature has become an issue for influencers who depend on the number of likes to get paid. According to Business Insider, affected influencers have already noticed their posts getting fewer likes and less engagament, pushing their posts further down in Instagram’s algorithmic feed. Should it be rolled out worldwide, how will your brand be affected?

Going viral won’t matter
Part of what makes going viral exciting and impactful for a brand, is the knowledge that everyone knows and can see that a post has gone viral. This alone tends to spur a post on even further as those who hear about it actively seek it out in their feeds. Without the likes feature, users won’t necessarily know that a post has gone viral, which will remove the hype.

Content that inspires engagement becomes even more important
Posts that spark debate and banter among your followers will become the new success metric as users look to the number of comments in the absence of likes.

Campaigns will need to encourage comment to succeed
Your users will now need to comment and follow to enter your brand’s competitions or engage with campaigns.

There will be a separation of real vs fake
Engaging with your brand is going to take more effort than liking and scrolling on, meaning that users who comment and click through to URLs and shopping links included in the post say more about the relationship the user has with your brand, and they are more likely to be a quality customer than a trigger happy Insta follower.

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